Watering in Colorado Springs can be a challenge as we live in a high plains desert. We receive on average approximately 17” inches of precipitation per year, a far cry from the 40” to 50” necessary to grow some of the things we want to thrive, particularly grass. This means that irrigation is not just a convenient luxury, but a vital necessity. Improper watering can and will cause failure to all things living in your landscape and is usually the culprit in turf failure. Proper watering practices can mean the difference between success and a very expensive mistake.
A general rule of thumb for watering is as follows: 30 minutes per zone with heads that are stationary, at least 45 minutes with zones that oscillate. This long watering will ensure that the water travels down to the roots which are 5” to 11” into the ground. Shallow watering will not penetrate the required depth to be utilized by the grass and will be wasted, usually by evaporation on the surface. Shallow watering will also cause thatch problems. If the temperature is under 80º water twice per week. If the temperature is over 80º water three times per week. As the grass that grows here, predominately Bluegrass, is a cool season grass, the performance of the grass will be diminished at temperatures exceeding 85º. Watering at temperatures above 85º may require a fourth or even more watering just to keep the grass properly hydrated. Cool season grasses thrive in conditions of 45º to 80º. This of course will occur in the months of July and August and will likely consume about half of your irrigation requirements for the entire year. Fortunately these temperatures only last a few weeks, but they can surely put your wallet to the test. Be sure to water when the sun is not in the sky, preferably in the early morning (have the last zone shut off 45 minutes before sunrise to minimize evaporation), or in the late evening after the sun has set and the wind has dissipated.
Below is a graph representing the typical precipitation by month throughout the year. Keep in mind that your lawn will need to be watered all year long, not just when you have the irrigation system operational. To keep a lawn adequately hydrated in January and February (Our driest months of the year) we need the equivalence of ¼” of moisture per week! This equates out to approximately 4” to 5” of snow. So, if it does not snow 6” to 1’ of snow within a two week period, it would be in your best interest to water to avoid winterkill in the lawn. This prescription will get you very close to your ideal watering requirements. Individual factors such as slope, sun exposure, temperature, grass height and soil composition will change watering demands. Your water demands will not be static and should be revisited at least once every few weeks, especially during the summer months. If you are unable to tend to the changing needs of the timer clock, you may want to look into investing in an ET system, or Evapotranspiration timer, which monitors meteorological data.
Watering here as was mentioned earlier is a challenge, but following the guidelines above will usually get you where you want to be in terms of a properly hydrated lawn. To review just keep these simple rules in mind: 1.Water when there is no direct sunlight, 2.Water deep to the point of runoff. 3. Water every to two three days 4.Water during the cold months to avoid lawn damage. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or for service on your irrigation system.
Express watering guide:
- Water early in the morning or late in the evening to maximize absorption and to minimize evaporation.
- Water at least 30 to 45 minutes per zone depending on the type of head you have in each zone, stationary or oscillating.
- Water every two to three days, more often as it gets hotter.
- Water during the cold months to prevent winterkill and mite infestations.
- Manually check you sprinkler heads once or twice a month to catch any malfunctioning heads.