For The Answer
Saturday, July 6, 2002
We have been blessed with rain ever since drought restrictions have been declared. It will dry out this summer again so here are some watering tips.
· Only apply as much water as the lawn requires to stay green and healthy. Four years of research in San Antonio revealed that, on the average, St. Augustine and zoysia grass in the sun require ¾-inch irrigation/week. Bermuda grass in the sun and zoysia and St. Augustine in the shade require ½- inch irrigation/week. Buffalo grass is our most drought tolerant grass and it will stay green with about 3/8-inch irrigation/week.
· SAWS, in partnership with Texas Cooperative Extension, offers the SIP (Seasonal Irrigation Program) lawn watering recommendations. Based on weather data, water needs of the various grasses are offered on the SAWS website (saws.org); KLUP Radio (noon and 1 p.m. on Saturday; 1 and 2 p.m. on Sunday); Express-News, SA Life section, Page 2, every Saturday; and the SIP hotline at 281-1478.
You may also sign up on the website to receive a personalized phone call or e-mail on your watering day every week.
· Bermuda, buffalo, and zoysia grass can be allowed to go dormant in the summer without permanent damage. Once the rains begin, the grass will green up quickly. Even St. Augustine has a fair tolerance for drought. One-half inch of irrigation applied every two weeks will keep the plants alive.
· Established groundcovers, trees, and shrubs do not require supplemental irrigation to survive a droughty summer. They evolved in the climate and are tolerant of drought periods.
· Irrigate summer-blooming perennials and shrubs such as old-fashioned roses, crepe myrtles, lantanas, verbenas, salvias, and plumbagos once every 23 weeks deeply at the root system to keep them blooming. Mulch over the root systems is essential for water conservation and plant performance.
· Trees injured by construction activity or existing in stressful situations, such as asphalt parking lots, benefit by a deep watering each month in the summer.
· Drip irrigation is the efficient way to water vegetables, annual flowers, and newly planted shrubs. A soaker or leaky hose is a good temporary drip system if you limit the water pressure to ¼ or ½ a turn of the spigot.
· It is not advisable to launch a major new landscape project during a drought. There are, however, special circumstances that make it necessary sometimes. A need to control erosion or contract requirements are such circumstances. A lawn can be established in three weeks if the soil is well prepared, the sod is rolled, and a careful watering program is followed. Four inches of soil is the minimum needed for a healthy lawn, six inches is better. SAWS offers a three-week variance and a recommended watering regime for new lawns.
· Hand watering is allowed at any time in Stage 1. Problem dry areas in the lawn or garden can be addressed with hand watering.
· Mulch all bare soil to minimize evaporation and maximize the depth of the soil reservoir by keeping the soil cool. Incorporate 23 inches of compost into planting areas whenever possible to encourage water conservation and plant health.