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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Watering Lawn 3 Times a Day@3 Minutes Each

Q. I laid tall fescue sod earlier this year in my backyard. It has been great until about a week ago when half the yard turned yellow! I use an inground sprinkler system and water 7 days a week for 3 minutes at 7 AM, 11 AM and 3 PM. The soil is moist about 4 inches down.

A. Why are you still watering 3 times a day for 3 minutes each time? This might be okay for the first couple of weeks after laying the sod but those times should change.
            Your irrigation schedule during the heat of the summer should be once a day for a total of about 12 to 15 minutes if you are using pop-up sprinklers. The actual number of minutes depends on the precipitation rate and spacing of the sprinklers.
            These are determined by the type of nozzle, pressure used and irrigation design. Poorly designed irrigation systems require more minutes than well-designed systems.

With head to head coverage the water from a sprinkler is thrown far enough to reach the neighboring sprinklers

            The best time to water a lawn are the hours just before sunrise when the wind is calm. If you can't water for 12 to 15 minutes all at once because of puddling or water runoff, break your irrigation times into smaller increments, each about one hour apart.
Aerifiers punch holes in a lawn for better water and air movement to grass roots.
            Get all of the water the lawn needs for that day into the soil during the early morning hours. The lawn can "drink" from this reservoir of soil water until the next irrigation.
Lawn grass root development after aerifying

            Aerify the lawn with a core aerator 2 or 3 times a year until you can water the lawn for longer and longer periods of time without puddling or runoff. After aerating a few times, you should be able to easily wet the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches each time you irrigate.

Readers picture of the remaining grass in his long

Follow-up question:

Q. laid the sod in April and was worried that it was a bit too hot but it took root and was flourishing.  The sod is a raised bed on 4 inches of topsoil from Star nursery over the local clay which I tilled.  I dug a "core" of grass that recently died and had some living grass as well.  The living grass is still rooted strong but the dead grass pulls out very easily.  I don't see any bugs.  I was unaware of the proper watering and will adjust accordingly.  Do you think there's any saving this lawn or do I need to re-sod? If so, I'm assuming mid-October is preferred for Tall Fescue.  Also, for the first few months I was getting a lot of mushrooms.  I no longer get them.  Could this be indicative of fungus or disease?  Again, thank you so much for your help.
Mushrooms appearing in a lawn is a signal that something in the lawn has not finished decomposing. Mushrooms are decomposers.

A. The mushrooms are from decomposing woodchips, probably in the soil mix. It's not a huge problem and it doesn't mean there is a disease going on. When the wood chips are exhausted, the mushrooms will stop.

I would suggest about October 1 to rake or lightly vertically mow, also called a dethatcher, and rough up the surface of the soil. Seed a blend of tall fescue varieties at a rate of about 8 to 10 pounds per thousand square feet. Fertilize it and water it in. Then cover the seed with a top dressing about one quarter of an inch deep using a manure spreader. If it's cool enough, you could use steer manure and a spreader.
Dethatchers are sometimes called vertical mowers because the small blades that rotate on the shaft are spun vertically rather than horizontally as in a rotary mower.You can adjust the depth of the vertical cut so the soil is disturbed as much or as little as you want.These are vertically spun blades can cut grooves for better soil and seed contact.
I think you're going to have to reseed or re-sod the area and I think seeding is a better option for you. Your irrigation times after the seed germinates I don't think you'll have a problem.

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