This article is geared towards our Central Texas dwelling fans – but there is a lot of useful information here for those of you living elsewhere!
After surviving a historic drought from 2010-2014, and water restrictions across the metro area for the last four years, Pflugerville residents are dealing with the deluge of rain from recent hurricanes like Michael and Willa. Determining how much and how long to water your lawn to keep up with the ever-changing weather conditions can be challenging. A rain gauge is the simplest, best tool you can use to determine how much water you need to maintain a healthy lawn.
One inch per week on average
The rule of thumb used by professionals in lawn care is to water one-inch per week for turfgrass, but this only serves as an average. The mild winters and brutally hot Texas summers require a bit of adjustment.
The key is to frequently adjust the amount you water the yard as the weather and growing season change. Watering your lawn can use as much as 30-50% of your total household water use, so it’s important to know if the water is soaking into the soil, or running off into the storm drain.
Run sprinklers twice a week in the morning
Pflugerville yards can’t absorb all of the water delivered by irrigation systems and rain. If it’s applied too rapidly or too often, it simply runs off, likely carrying pollutants like fertilizers and pesticides into the Edwards Aquifer. It can easily evaporate if applied to bare soil with no mulch, or in the hot afternoon.
Water your lawn deeply twice a week. St. Augustine and Bermuda use the water in the soil most efficiently this way, and it also strengthens the root system.
Measure your sprinkler output
Measure your sprinkler coverage with water gauges. Sophisticated sprinkler systems have built-in gauges that make it easy for you to water just the right amount. You can make your own using an empty can and a ruler, or purchase inexpensive models online.
Measure your watering by turning on your sprinkler system for 30 minutes. Check your gauge and see how much water is in it. Calculate how long the sprinklers must run to fill the gauge ¾ of an inch. That is the amount of time you should water your lawn every three to five days. Remember to account for rainfall and observe your grass for signs of wilting or discoloration which would indicate you need to water more.
Consider using rainwater
Like everything in the Lone Star State, our rain comes in big drops. The Austin area gets 32-26 inches per year, but one big storm in April or September can bring 10-inches in a single day. Not only is rainwater free and easy to collect, but our big Texas thunderstorms cause a lot of runoff.
Rainfall runoff pollutes our aquifers by carrying soil, fertilizers, and pesticides. A healthy lawn helps reduce runoff pollution by preventing erosion and reducing the need for fertilizers.
The experts at Texas A&M estimate that by collecting rainwater from just 10 percent of the residential roof area in Texas, we could conserve over 30 billion gallons of water annually.
Gauge your water use
Sprinklers are the most efficient way to water St. Augustine and Bermuda grass. Use a simple water gauge to measure how many inches of water you’re using, and observe the condition of your grass. Calculate how long you should run the sprinklers to water ¾ of an inch, and schedule it twice a week. If your grass shows signs of distress, increase the amount of water delivered per application, but don’t water it more often.