Winter Lawn Care
Around half of all water used in Phoenix is used for watering domestic and commercial landscaping. By caring for your lawn areas properly by watering wisely, you will not only have a great looking landscape but will save money and help to conserve a precious resource.
Watering lawn during the cooler hours is a good idea in both summer and winter since it reduces evaporation losses and generally winds are light which makes for more thorough irrigation, since sprinkler patterns do not get distorted.
In cold climates it is generally recommended that irrigation take place at temperatures above 40 degrees. However Phoenix rarely sees snow and sustained freezing conditions so irrigating lawn early in the day during winter here gives the water the most time possible to soak in before nighttime temperatures drop down and the possibility of freezing arises.
As a rule, watering less often promotes deeper lawn root growth which makes the grass more durable and therefore lawn care easier. Bermuda grass goes dormant in the winter which is why Rye Grass is commonly used for winter lawns in Phoenix. Rye Grass thrives in the cooler weather and crates the intended accent year round. Established Rye Grass lawns need little care and watering (3 to 7 days).
Depending on the soil type and aeration; it is easy to over-water grass in the winter making lawn care messy and difficult. Doing so often produces muddy or soggy patches that are more susceptible to disease, root-rot, and fungus and can create breeding areas for mosquitoes.
Since water does not evaporate readily in the Phoenix winter, it can easily collect in low spots of lawn like areas that are bounded by paving and have no drainage. Adding soil to these areas will provide a longer term fix and make the lawn easier to care for in summer.
How much water is needed depends on a number of factors and the best way to figure this out is to test the ground by probing it with a 6” screwdriver. If the ground is too dry, you will struggle to push it all the way in. If it goes in too easily dial back on the watering.
Regular inspection will tell you a lot about how your irrigation system is working and how to adjust your routine and the system to give you an optimal result. Shaded areas will require less water and remember that it is a waste to water if you have had rain.
You may need to increase times or volumes for areas that are dry or browning. Or look to see if that area is raised and compacted causing irrigation water to run off before it can soak in. If the problem looks difficult to solve without major work, consider splitting the watering cycle into segments that will allow water to soak in rather than running off.
Fertilizer may be used in your winter lawn care regimen, but will need to be of a different composition than would be used in summer. Higher nitrogen will compensate for irrigation water rather than rain and Iron will help to green up the grass. As always if it is used, it should be used sparingly and care must be taken not to burn the grass. Watering well after fertilizer application will ensure that it is dissolved into the soil. This will cause the grass to grow more strongly, which will require mowing. Be sure to sharpen the mower blade so that it cuts the grass rather than smashing it.
Probably the single thing you can do to help care for your lawn properly is to ensure that the lawn and the sprinkler systems are regularly maintained. This will ensure that lawn or shrubs do not interfere with the sprinkler heads and that the heads are properly adjusted to give the garden an even watering. Your garden will look its best and you will be saving money.