Saturday, June 5, 2010

Watering Buffalo Grass: It's not rocket surgery!

It's tough being on the bleeding edge of lawn management. For example, how long should I run my lawn sprinklers to water my buffalo grass? How often? No one knows yet, but I think I'm on the right track.

Step 1 was to find out how much water my sprinkler system delivers. The "tuna can" method as explained by the University of Arizona's agriculture department measures your lawn sprinkler's output. UC Davis has a downloadable guide for California that explains a similar method.

Step 2 was estimated from bits of information. The original research for UC Verde buffalo grass indicated that it would survive, and maybe even stay green with half the water that Bermuda grass gets. I also know that deep, infrequent watering is better for lawns.

I had the Phoenix lawn watering guide site calculate the run times I would need for Bermuda grass with my sprinkler system. If you are in California, download the UC Davis brochure and use its watering times.

I converted the number of minutes of watering into minutes per month.

Step 3, I divided the monthly watering time in half to estimate what UC Verde buffalo grass would need. During April and May I watered twice a month, delivering half the water each time. 15 days was a bit too long between waterings; the grass was clearly water-stressed before the next watering session. So I've changed to delivering 1/3 of that amount every 10 days to see if a shorter interval will help.

Calculating your own watering times:
It's not rocket surgery!

Figure out how long warm season grasses need to be watered in your area, based on your sprinkler system's water output. Convert the daily or weekly amount into a monthly watering time.

Deliver between 1/2 and 2/3 of that water every month, split into 2 or 3 watering sessions.
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