|Care and Maintenance
of an Established Lawn
Limited water supplies have placed a new emphasis on the responsible
use of water.
Since turf irrigation is one of the first uses to be limited
when water shortages occur, it is necessary for responsible
homeowners to know how to water their lawns effectively and
The Texas Agricultural Extension
Service provides the following guidelines for home
Homeowners should maintain a deep, infrequent watering schedule
regardless of the water status because it is better for the overall
health of the lawn. It reduces disease, helps insure good air movement
down to the root system, and conserves water.
Approximately one inch of water each week is
recommended for a well-maintained lawn; however, this can vary between
different types of turf, seasonal changes, and differences in soil
types. Deeply rooted grass draws moisture from a larger area allowing
the grass to survive drought and hot weather that rapidly dries
out the upper soil layer.
The following steps can be used to determine
how long you need to run your sprinkler or irrigation system.
- Set out a can on the lawn 6 feet from the
sprinkler (cans with short sides like tuna or cat food cans work
- Time the sprinkler or irrigation system until
the water in the can reaches 1 inch.
- Use a garden spade or a soil probe to determine
how deep the soil was wet during the time period. Push the probe
into the soil. It will push through the wet soil easily, but will
become difficult when it reaches dry soil.
- Special attention should be paid to eliminate
water waste. To prevent run-off, monitor the lawn to make sure
that water is not running onto sidewalks, streets or gutters.
If the water runs off before the lawn is sufficiently wet, turn
the sprinkler off for 30 minutes then resume watering.
The amount of water your lawn requires and
receives will determine its overall health, beauty and ability to
withstand use and drought. Too much water can ruin a lawn just as
fast as too little.
Proper mowing is important to any turfgrass maintenance program.
Mowing needs change with the season, weather,
nutrients as well as other factors. One simple rule to follow
is NEVER MOW MORE THAN 1/3 OF THE LEAF BLADE AT ANY ONE TIME.
Grass plants have a "growing point" where the leaves
originate. When grass is mowed often, that growing point is
close to the ground. If grass is allowed to grow too long,
the growing point moves up away from the ground and a close
mowing at that point will cut off the growing point with the
grass blade. Frequent mowing at the optimal mowing height
for your grass will ensure that you aren't removing too much
of the leaf blade and should result in a lush, healthy lawn.
It is essential to keep your mower blades
sharp to insure a smooth, clean cut. When your mower blade
is dull, a ragged, damaged, straw-colored top remains and
is the prime point of entry for many insects and disease pathogens.
Mower blades should be sharpened at least once a year.
Check with your local nursery to learn the recommended fertilizers
to apply in your area for your specific soil type.
Lawn grasses do best when provided with a sunny area and well
must be provided for a lawn to become established and thrive.
Compost, either homemade or purchased from reputable companies
will enhance fertility and texture. In addition, beneficial
soil biota (organisms) can be added to your soil.
Appropriate natural fertilizers can be used to boost plant
growth. The soil can be tested to determine the nutrient needs
of the lawn. Avoid fertilizer salts and pesticides.
Use a mulching mower to recycle clippings in place and return
nutrients to the soil. This will reduce water stress.
Water should be applied on a regular basis but not excessively.
Beneficial insects (ladybugs, green lacewings,
trichogramma wasps) can be released and natural predators
(praying mantids, birds, beneficial nematodes) will be encouraged
to take up residence in the lawn.
An organic lawn resists pests and diseases,
holds its greenness through periods of drought, supports biodiversity,
stores carbon and purifies water. An organic lawn is completely
safe for children and wildlife.