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At first appearance, the lush lawn surrounding a suburban home would seem like a simple decorative affectation. However, the practice of keeping the perfect lawn as low-cut vegetation around a dwelling has a very practical origin.
If you built your castle in the middle of a woodland which was relatively common in medieval Europe, trees and bushes close to the walls of the castle provided a lot of places to hide. But if you cut down the trees and planted grass, enemy soldiers and other undesirable elements would have a harder time sneaking up on you. Practical right?
The Modern Lawn
Hopefully, you do not have to worry about enemy forces laying siege to your suburban bungalow, but there are still some very good reasons to maintain a healthy lawn around the house.
Not only does it drive up the curb appeal of your property, but a lush, cool and perfect lawn can also help keep the house cooler during the hot summer months, it gives the kids a safe place to play outside of the house, and can provide the homeowner a refreshing extra room. What could be nicer after a busy day than relaxing outside on a cool lawn?
Many neighborhoods and homeowners’ associations require residents to maintain an attractive lawn so as to protect everyone’s property values. These requirements are more often relaxed during times of drought and water rationing. However, a healthy and well-watered lawn has the added benefit of contributing to fire safety.
Lawns are more likely to thrive in the wet conditions which are common in the Old World, but keeping a perfect lawn in North America usually requires some additional irrigation. For decades, this has meant simply turning on the sprinkler and hoping that you remember to turn it off after an hour or so. In fact, it is not uncommon to see sprinkler systems running in the middle of a rain storm!
Grass is a remarkably resilient plant, which means that your lawn will likely survive if conditions are less than perfect. You don’t have to mow your lawn if you don’t water it, but if the grass is healthy, it will crowd out weeds. Kidding aside, mowing the grass can be a healthy and relaxing activity.
Your Lawn and the Weather
Over-irrigation can be as stressful for your lawn as not watering enough. Experts generally agree that the grass varieties which make up most lawns in North America will thrive if they are given between one and two inches of water each week.
To find out how long you should run your sprinklers, you have to know how much water the lawn is getting from natural rainfall. The best way to find your local rainfall amount is to take a reading from your personal Weather Station or if you need a simpler solution, get a rain gauge.
Weather Gadgets For The Lawn
It is one of the most popular weather stations which comes with a perfectly great HD display. It helps you to determine precise weather conditions, indoor comfort, and daily record dashboards. You can easily mount the sensor outside and plugin the display to get accurate readings and weather updates. If you are looking forward to getting periodic rainfall updates, this can be a really good option for you. Also, this comes with a sleep mode that can be turned on while you go to sleep.
Its Barometer depicts highly reliable future forecasts so that you can easily plan your tours and upcoming events. It keeps a record of outdoor temperature and humidity up to 1 year if weekly high and low records. Its digital clock automatically updates itself according to its daylight saving feature and it also includes an alarm clock. You can set customizable alarms for temperature, wind speed, humidity, rainfall, etc.
The Oregon Scientific Rain Gauge is easily our favourite rain gauge for the home gardener and lawn lover.
It’s completely weather resistant, has a quality rain gauge as well as our favourite feature – the self emptying feature. It is one of the most accurate raing guages on the market with its accuracy up to 0.4 inch increments. It also records temperature and humidity.
The transmission range of this rain guage is fantastic. It can transmit data from 300 feet away meaning you have more choices as to where you place your guage.
Think thats all the amazing features this machine has? Think again! This rain gauge has a 10 day data history record ability making it one of the longer storage systems.
Finally it can track the amount of water you use to water your lawn which gives you the edge when trying to grow the perfect lawn. When you combine the 10 day data record with your personal watering you can get the perfect lawn!
The weather and a Sprinkler System Combined
Now that you have a handle on how much water nature is providing your lawn, you can determine how much you need to add with your sprinkler system. We can find the efficiency of your sprinkler system with this simple experiment. If you are using a sprinkler attached to a garden hose, find an empty tuna can and place it on the ground, open side up, near the center of the sprinkler’s spray pattern. Turn on the sprinkler and monitor the amount of time it takes for half an inch of water to collect in the can.
You can use a similar procedure with an installed sprinkler system, but you may want to test in several places in your yard to ensure that your system is watering evenly.
Best Time To Water Your Lawn
Watering during the heat of the day leads to water loss due to evaporation, and it is also thought that sunlight shining through the lens created by a water droplet on a flower blossom can lead to sunburn damage in your flowerbeds.
Watering at night or just before or after sundown means that your lawn will be wet all night, which may encourage fungus and disease growth. Turn your sprinklers on as early in the morning as you can, it is cooler with less wind early in the morning which means less evaporation and the full day’s sunlight will discourage fungus and disease.
Turning the sprinklers on once or twice a week is thought to be more beneficial than watering daily for a short amount of time. Frequent watering, even frequent deep watering, will encourage shallow root growth.
A longer watering period allows the water to soak in more effectively, but there is a danger of watering too long in a session.
Water Your Lawn Early in the Morning
Remember when we mentioned rainfall rates during our discussion of rain gauges? A summer thundershower can dump several inches of rain in a small area in a short amount of time, but not all of that rain will soak into the soil where the roots of your lawn can use it. The same thing may occur if you run your sprinklers for too long.
If puddles begin to form, you may encounter runoff. Sprinkler water running down the street and not soaking into the soil is wasted. It may be more beneficial to turn on the sprinkler for ten or twenty minutes, turn it off for a bit to allow the water to soak into the soil, and then turn on the sprinkler again.
The “screwdriver test” is a good way to judge whether or not you are getting a sufficient soak. If you can easily push a six-inch screwdriver into the soil and there’s soil coming out with the screwdriver, your lawn is getting a good soak. If the screwdriver comes out dry, you should give your lawn more water.
Proper Way of Mowing Your Lawn
Set your mower to a higher setting. Mowing to 2 1/2 to 3 inches has several advantages. The longer grass blades will have more leaf area, so the lawn will absorb more energy from the sun. That taller grass will shade the soil, helping it to hold on to the moisture and keeping weeds from getting enough sun to become established.
Frequent mowing will keep the lawn looking great, and leave the short clippings so that they can return their nutrients to the soil. Using a hand mower also has all of the benefits of jogging while beautifying your home!
Keep these concepts in mind
- Measure how much water your sprinkler system delivers in a set period of time versus how much rain has fallen on your lawn over the past week.
- Occasional deep watering is more beneficial to your grass’s root system than frequent watering.
- Monitor the sprinkler rate to avoid a runoff. Turn off the water before puddles form and allow it to soak in.
- A healthy perfect lawn with thick, healthy grass will naturally drive out weeds.
- Grass mowed to 2 1/2” to 3” while shading the soil, helping to retain moisture and retard weed growth.
- Remember that your lawn lives outside, in the weather, and that a healthy, inviting and perfect lawn will encourage your family to spend more time out there, too. Taking care of your lawn is easy and enjoyable when you are armed with these simple tips and the rainfall and weather information gleaned from your home weather station.