I was going to use this month to tell you about another group of our staff members, but I have come up with a more timely topic. How should I be watering my home lawn? I choose to discuss this topic for two reasons, 1) I had a friend call me to ask how he could best utilize his home irrigation system, 2) I wish my neighbor would ask me how he should use his home irrigation system. My suggestions are a way to reduce the cost of lawn irrigation, as well as helping to maintain a healthier yard all summer long.
A "set it and forget it" approach to lawn irrigation is not the way to do it. You must constantly monitor each zone for excessive wetness, as well as dryness. Over watering is expensive, leads to a shallow root system, and creates a good environment for disease. If you do not take an active role in the watering of your lawn, you are likely to be watering too much.
Watch the weather forecast, and turn off the system if precipitation is in the forecast. Watering grass is best when done deep and infrequently. This means that you should water heavy and then wait until the turf shows the first signs of stress from being dry. If a heavy rainfall occurs, this is the perfect time for a reset on the system. Shut it off for a few days and see what areas stress first. When turf begins to stress from drought, it will take on a bluish/purple hue. When a zone starts to stress, turn that zone back on but you shouldn't need to turn them all on. Watch to see the progression of your yard, areas that stress faster, should be watered more frequently. Some zones may need many more minutes of water per event than other zones. If all of your zones are getting the same water cycle on a set schedule, you are most likely watering too much.
Finding a balance between too much and too little water will take a little effort, it can lead to savings on water cost, and a healthier lawn that is better suited to handle the summer stress of Kansas. Taking the time to learn how your own yard receives and releases water is the first step. Just because your grass looks lush and green from a distance, does not mean that it is healthy.