Factors to consider for proper water management of lawns

By Tom Dominguez, Quay County Extension

Are you having problems determining when and how much to water each time you irrigate your lawn? Well, you need to understand that several
factors need to be considered to accomplish this task properly.

• First, determine the type and depth of your soil. Clay soil will certainly be different than sandy soil because of the clay’s ability to hold water and
its inability to allow water into the soil (reduced infiltration rate).

• Furthermore, having a soil depth greater than 6 inches allows for deep and infrequent irrigation (recommended) and the ability to maintain a
reservoir of water for roots to tap into. Research has shown that turfgrasses are able to extract water deep into the soil profile if you
maintain an adequate root system.

• Shallow soils lack this attribute; thus, light and frequent applications will be needed which results in a shallow root system and reduced drought resistance.

Other factors that affect water management in turf include: proper turfgrass selection, proper fertilization, proper mowing, thatch management, aerification practices, pest management, water quality, and many environmental conditions (wind, sun, shade, relative humidity, air temperature, etc.).

Keep in mind that we want to maintain a healthy, well-rooted lawn grass. Do not over-saturate your site for long periods of time — roots need oxygen to survive — saturated soils lack oxygen. So, if possible, water deeply and infrequently.

Also, water in the early morning hours. You will be much happier with your lawn and your lawn will be much happier with you.

Tom Dominguez is an agent with the Quay County Extension, NMSU Extension Service. He can be reached by emailing tdomingu@nmsu.edu or calling 461-0562.