This spring we have had an abundance of moisture and our lawns and gardens are benefiting from it. With its deep green color, Kentucky Bluegrass is in its glory…for now. Leap forward to late June/July with the watering restriction and take into consideration how to maintain your lawn. Whether your turf is a bluegrass, ryegrass, or fescue, proper watering techniques can promote a healthy lawn.
Kentucky Bluegrass or ryegrass lawns need anywhere from 1” in shady areas to 2.25” of water per week in full sun. This may be difficult to do with the restrictions but the following information may help you get the best results for your lawn.
1. Place several containers of the same size in your lawn area to be watered. Try to place them in a level area. I like using large tuna or soup cans. Proper placement is crucial to catch the water.
2. Turn on your watering system for ten minutes, then measure the moisture in the containers. If you received ½” of water in each container, you know you need to increase you time to twenty minutes to receive 1” of water for that area. Do this for all zones of your yard. Let the grass species and health, soil conditions, and weather conditions dictate irrigation practices, not the number of days or time between watering.
3. Denver water prohibits watering between the hours of 10:00am and 6:00pm to avoid water loss from evaporation. Contrary to popular belief, watering at night does not encourage disease development. The most efficient time of day to water is late evening and early morning.
4. Mowing! Make sure the cutting edge blade on your mower is sharp. A dull blade will shred and fray leaf blades instead of cutting them cleanly. The result is a brown, unattractive lawn. I sharpen mine twice a growing season. The minimum height for any lawn is two inches. The preferred height for all Colorado species is 2.5” to 3”. Mowing to less than 2” can result in decreased drought and heat tolerance and higher incidence of insects, disease and weeds. Mow your lawn the same height all year, and mow often enough so no more than 1/3 of the grass height is removed at any single mowing. So, if your mowing height is 2”, mow your lawn when it is 3 inches tall. If weather or another factor prevents mowing at the proper time, raise the height of the mower temporarily to avoid cutting too much at one time. Cut the grass again in a few days at the proper height. If you stay consistent, mulching your lawn when you mow is a great choice and will add back nitrogen and organic matter to your lawn. Mulching your grass clippings will not contribute to thatch accumulation in your lawn.
If you need more information, check out CSU Extension’s FactSheet #7.202.