Drought stress can predispose our turf for other problems such as insect and disease attack as well as the encroachment of weeds. Since the weather is constantly changing, and we never know for sure if we will get adequate rainfall, we need to irrigate with a long-range purpose in mind.
We can help our lawns tremendously as the summer heat intensifies by beginning pre-stress conditioning now. Pre-stress conditioning is accomplished by watering less frequently, but very thorough when we do water. A good thorough deep watering allows the water to infiltrate down three or more inches to encourage grass roots to go deep into the soil and become more numerous. Later in the summer, as water becomes even more critical, those lawns with a deep, large mass root system will be better prepared to forage much deeper for any available moisture.
To help prevent an ideal environment for foliar diseases begin watering early enough in the day, so that watering can be completed in time for leaf blades to dry before nightfall.
Published June 16, 2008
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org