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NH is Abnormally Dry – Importance of Watering Your Lawn

This beautiful weather is wonderful, but the ‘abnormal dry or drought conditions’ * in most of New Hampshire have put many lawns into Stage 1-3 drought stress. The green lawns that homeowners naturally expect to see in mid-June are instead very dry. Most of the drought stress is in what we call ‘hot spots’, localized areas of dry soil where the turf turns straw-colored. In the absence of rain, these hot spots need to be watered and if the dry weather continues and the temperatures rise, more of your lawn will need irrigation.

Here are some excerpts from Chippers Turf Tips on Lawn Watering. For the full version, visit our website at
http://www.chippersinc.com/files/8615/2630/4903/Watering.pdf

Watering Needs
As a general rule, lawns need an inch of water per week for optimum growth, health and performance. Since the leaf blade of the grass plant is mostly water, as the lawn grows it requires water as a basic ingredient for health.

Three Stages of Drought Stress
When suffering from a lack of water, a lawn goes through three stages. Stage 1 is initial stress that can be seen as a pale to dull green color, even purple in tint. ‘Hot spots’ often show up in the most exposed sunny areas of your lawn, on a slope, an area of high traffic or over buried object like a ledge, a stump or a septic tank cover. In Stage 2, the grass begins to turn a light tan, wilt and fail to bounce upright after being walked on. At Stage 3 a lawn is dormant having turned tan to brown, even straw-colored.

Watering Frequency & Amount
In the absence of rain, watering in Stage 1 (and Stage 2) can restore health and color often within a week or so if done correctly. Watering time varies but a general rule of thumb is infrequent (every other day) with a deep soaking (30 minutes to 1 hour) to help saturate the soil. This create a reserve for moisture and a healthier, deeper, more aggressive root system better able to withstand future dry periods. Lawns that have areas in complete dormancy (Stage 3) will require 2-4 weeks of consistent rain and/or irrigation to restart plant growth.

Time of Day
As a general rule, watering should be done in the early–to-late morning to help minimize the occurrence of summer turf diseases.

Enjoy the sunny weather, but let’s hope we get some rain…preferably not on a weekend!

*As of June 5, 2018, National Integrated Drought Information System, (NIDIS), the US drought portal.  https://www.drought.gov/drought/states/new-hampshire

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