By Bob Dailey
It’s hot and your lawn might be looking a little peaked. The first response is to turn on the irrigation system and soak that turf with water.
Remember though, good soil can only hold so much water (about three quarts per cubic yard). Once the soil is saturated, any excess runs off into the street, then the storm drain, out into Lake Woodlands, Spring Creek, the San Jacinto River and finally to the Gulf of Mexico.
If the soil under the grass is compacted and devoid of organic material, then any water is just going to run off into the street and go the way of all excess water in The Woodlands – that is, the Gulf. You’ve just spent a whole lot of dollars adding fresh water to Galveston Bay.
Of course, there is always the option not to water at all. The lawn in front of the Water Resources building (2455 Lake Robbins Drive) has not been irrigated with anything but rainwater for the last two years, and it’s lush and thriving. The reason is the soil underneath the grass is rich in organic matter, added there once or twice a year, which allows the soil to soak up excess water and store it within the top 12 inches. That helps the grass to develop deep root systems.
Here’s another way to help your lawn look great and save you money at the same time. To visualize this, find an area with dry, hard, compacted soil. Pour a glass of water onto it. What happens? The water rolls off the soil and away from the dry spot. Now, very slowly pour the water in droplets onto the soil? See what happens? The water begins to soak into the soil. The water is soaking into the soil by capillary action. If you’re running your sprinkler system for 10 minutes each zone, drop it down to five minutes each zone, run the entire cycle, and then run it again for another five minutes. You’ll be surprised at how well this works.
Finally, remember that the Defined Irrigation Schedule, begun in June 2013, is still in effect. Lawns irrigated by sprinkler systems can be watered no more than two nights per week – never during the day without a variance. Addresses ending in even numbers can only water on Wednesday and Saturday nights, and odd numbers can only water on Tuesday and Friday nights, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. the following morning. There are no plans to halt the Defined Irrigation Schedule. Hand-held hoses or hose-end sprinklers and drip irrigation are allowed anytime.