Lawn & Order

July 10, 2014

Many homeowners prefer a lawn close to the house that may provide a recreational or play area for children or pets, a relaxing place for lawn chairs and family gatherings and to create a cooling effect. Lawns can be functional and their root mass provides erosion control and helps to filter, capture and break down pollutants. In fact, a practical sized lawn can be part of a Xeriscape, as long as it’s used sparingly and properly maintained.

To keep your lawn healthy this summer, follow the guidelines below.

  • Water lawns only when they need it. If you leave footprints when walking across the grass, it may be time to water. Bermuda seldom needs water more than twice a week in summer.
  • Water deeply.  The water should soak down to at least 6 inches. Water lawns with pop up sprays once for 10 – 15 minutes, or break it into 2 or 3 short sessions spaced 30 minutes apart.
  • Use a screwdriver to see how far the water is traveling. You can only easily push where soil is moist. If it’s hard to probe at 3 inches, run your sprinklers a few minutes longer.
  • Check your irrigation system for leaks when it’s running and replace broken spray heads or risers.
  • Let your grass grow slightly longer in summer. This protects the roots from heat stress by encouraging them to grow a little deeper and reduces water loss to evaporation by shading the soil.
  • Instead of using a nitrogen based fertilizer, which increases growth, try water soluble (chelated) iron to green up the blades.
  • If you have water pressure problems that don’t allow for good coverage or if you have compacted soil or a slope so that water runs off every time you water.

Landscape Watering by the Numbers: A Guide for the Arizona Desert will help you determine how much water to apply to your lawn and how long to run your system. For additional tips on maintaining your lawn contact your water conservation office or water provider for the free lawn care guide.

Cathy Rymer is a water conservation coordinator with the City of Chandler, AZ, one of fifteen Water – Use It Wisely partners to offer water-saving advice and programs.