Over the last two weeks, we have visited a lot of landscapes that are really needing moisture.
During a typical fall, Oklahoma City receives over 7” of rain between the beginning of September and the end of October. But this year, we are lagging way behind. Since the first of October, the metro area has received less than 1/10” and in the last 30 days just a little over 2”.
If you have already stopped watering for the season, you stopped too soon this year.
If you have already cut back on your water, you may have cut back too much. Usually, by this time of the season, we have received a few good rains allowing you to cut way back, but not this year.
True - with the cooler and shorter days of October your landscape no longer needs 1.5” of water per week. But, it does need at least 1” per week.
This is especially true if you have a fescue lawn.
Fall is a critical time for fescue lawns.
Fall is the best time to establish fescue from seed.
Fall is the best time to fertilize fescue heavily.
We have noticed many fescue lawns that are stressed at the exact time of the year they should be their strongest and looking their best. If you have fescue, please make sure it is receiving moisture. This goes for both mature fescue lawns and ones that have been seeded this fall. Healthy fescue now will make a big difference next spring.
No matter the type of turf you have or the types of trees, shrubs and flowers in your landscape, here are a few watering tips to follow during the Fall and Winter:
Water Based on Need – The perfect situation would be to inspect your lawn every few days and make watering decisions based on need. Don’t just leave the system on automatic and forget it. And, don’t just turn it off for the season. For fescue, if the grass doesn’t spring back up after walking on it, it is time to water. When shrub and flower leaves start showing signs of wilt, it is time to water. Another easy test is to take a long screwdriver, if it slides easily into the soil you don’t need to water.
Water Less Often – As the time of the year comes to water less, don’t reduce the length of time each zone runs. Instead water less often. Set your irrigation to run every 4 days instead of every other day during the fall. When we get caught up on rainfall, extend watering out to every 6 days.
Water Deep Not Shallow – Deep watering is important in every season. Shallow, frequent watering promotes shallow roots, increases weed content, promotes diseases and reduces cold hardiness. If you can get a 1” of water on your lawn in a single watering without causes excessive runoff, water just one time per week. But, for most of our soils you should plan on watering ½” twice per week. It is best to saturate the soil each time you water and then allow it time to dry before watering again.
Fescue seeded 3 weeks ago that has been correctly watered. If you seeded this fall keep newly seeded areas tacky moist until the seed fully germinates, usually 14 days. The best technique is to water short cycles 3x per day: early morning, late morning , and late afternoon.
Water Based on Weather – It’s okay to turn your irrigation all the way off when we get into winter if you keep up with the weather. December through February, water anytime we have not received a good rainfall within the last 7-14 days. Dry plant roots during the cold of winter can be very damaging. A good source for local weather data is the Mesonet: https://mesonet.org/
Add A Rain/Freeze Sensor – A sensor will interrupt a run cycle when it rains and when it is too cold. If you have a rain/freeze system, set your controller to run one time per week during the winter.
Add a Wi-Fi Link – Several of our customers have installed the Rainbird Wi-Fi Link and allow us the ability to monitor their irrigation systems. Daily we survey the Mesonet website for key weather data, make moisture need decisions and adjust systems. A rain sensor will stop a cycle, but with the Wi-Fi Link we can remotely adjust a system based on weather data.
Just because the growing season comes to an end, doesn’t mean your lawn and landscape don’t need moisture.
Protect your landscape investment…
Water based on need…
Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape