Where did the Rain go?? Summer Watering Tips for Lawns & Trees
July 25, 2019
Summers in Texas are HOT. And dry. And as is the case this year, we can go from extra spring rainfall to sudden hot dry days mid-summer. The quick onset of hot dry conditions can take a toll on your normally lush trees and lawns. While we aren’t under severe drought conditions as in previous years, it’s still important to provide supplemental water when rainfall is sparse.
You may think that your lawn and trees have very deep roots & they will be fine in the summer without additional water. But, in actuality, most of the tree roots that take up water and nutrients – called feeder roots – are found in the top 18”. Many lawngrasses root systems may only reach 6-inches or so deep. Shallow tree feeder roots and surrounding lawns will also compete for water.
Summer Watering Tips for Trees and Shrubs
When it’s hot and not raining, or we are in official drought conditions, newly planted and established trees will need more regular deep watering. Newly planted trees should be watered two to three times per week, deeply. Established trees will need a deep watering once per week – either by hand from a hose, through a soaker hose, or drip irrigation.
Before applying any extra water, check the soil for moisture. If it is wet, or you received a good rain lately, do not add extra. Overwatering has adverse effects also.
Lawn Watering Tips
Because the dry heat snuck up on us this year, many lawns are now showing water stress. The rule of thumb is for your lawn and landscape to receive the equivalent 1” of rainfall of irrigation water per week. When it’s not raining - and you forget to water - soils can dry quickly and become hard and cracked. Water may not absorb easily and run off your lawn just when it’s needed most.
CYCLE & SOAK: To allow more irrigation water to absorb into your lawn successfully, we suggest using the cycle & soak method of watering. When you cycle soak, you break up the run times of your irrigation for each zone into shorter, multiple waterings. This allows water to soak in better over a longer period of time, as well as absorb deeper.
EXAMPLE: Instead of running your irrigation system for 30 minutes straight on your lawn zones, run the system for 10 minutes, with 3 separate start times. You can use your A, B, C program settings on your controller to create a cycle and soak watering regimen.
As a rule, less frequent, deeper (longer) watering grows stronger & healthier root systems for both lawns and trees. Shallow (short) frequent waterings can encourage weak shallow root systems.
TIP: Mulching is a summer soil saver. Mulch not only slows the evaporation of water from the plant root zone, but it also cools the soil which in turn reduces stress on your trees and landscape plants. Of course, mulching needs to be done the correct way to benefit trees.
Soil Types Impact Watering
The type of soil you have can affect how well your trees and lawn take up water. Hard clay and compacted soils won’t absorb water as quickly or efficiently as necessary, and you will lose precious water to run off. Having the lawn areas aerated in summer can allow your soil to absorb water better.
Drought Stress has Lasting Effects
The effects of drought can impact your trees and lawn for years to come. In trees, the important feeder roots may die, your trees will become more susceptible to insect and disease pressures, and branches become brittle & break easily in storms.
The same root loss can occur in lawns, which also makes them less able to fend off insects and diseases, and outcompete weeds.
While you might be tempted to run your irrigation daily in the summer, it’s not necessary for established lawns and trees, and it wastes water. Plus, you may be violating your local watering restrictions. Water restrictions help conserve water in our reservoirs and also are set to avoid watering during the middle of the day – when lots of irrigation water is lost due to evaporation.
Most cities allow hand watering and drip irrigation as needed. But, it’s still best to water in the early morning. Evening watering is acceptable in summer months when night temperatures are warm.
Water restrictions for your city are linked below: