Timmy's Tool Box

Timmy's Tool Box
Timmy's Tool Box 

In this months edition of Timmy's Tool Box, Tim talks to us about how to look after our Gardens and Lawns in this ever changing weather...

Watering the Lawn in the Summer

When the weather is hot, how can you tell if your lawn and garden are getting enough water?

First, it's not necessary to water lawns and plants every day. As a general rule, more plants are killed through over-watering than under-watering.

Second, understand the properties of the soil in your area. Water penetrates and behaves differently in differing types of soil — e.g., sandy or loose soil vs. clay. Check with your local nursery for watering tips for your local area. Set up a system that allows effective watering with penetration of 6" to 8" below the ground surface.

The basic fact is that you'll need to find out how deeply the water is penetrating into the soil. To do that, all that's needed is a shovel. Pick an inconspicuous spot where you've been irrigating. About 30 minutes after watering, dig a small hole and use your hand to check how deeply the water has penetrated. In most lawn and garden situations, it's best if water is penetrating 6" to 8" beneath the surface of the soil.

Check several locations to see if irrigation is even throughout the yard. If there are dry spots, you may need to modify your irrigation techniques.

Watering systems are not always uniform in how they disperse water. Even if you water regularly, you may find that there are wet spots and dry spots around your yard. To check whether your watering system is working evenly across your yard, here's a trick you can use to test it. Take some plastic cups and place them around your yard before you water. You can place a few coins in the bottoms of the cups to prevent them from blowing over.

Once the cups are placed, turn on your sprinkler system. Water will collect in the cups as you water.

After watering for about 30 minutes, compare the level of water in each of the cups. You may discover that there is more water in some of the cups than in others. Frequently, areas within close proximity to the sprinkler receive less water than areas several yards away. You may need to check the directions that come with your sprinkler to make it apply water more uniformly.

For watering shrubs and beds, there are techniques and tools that are more effective than ordinary lawn sprinklers. Dripper systems use a hose attached to a faucet and timer. Small holes are placed at appropriate locations along the length of a polyethylene hose. Tiny adapters are inserted into the holes to allow small 1/4-inch hose branches to be installed along the length of the hose. Water emitters of various types are attached at the ends of the smaller branches.

Water emitters — such as small spray-heads — can be placed strategically beneath individual plants to deliver water exactly where it's most needed.

Another useful tool is the soaker-hose system. Like the dripper system, the soaker system uses a timer and a main hose to which smaller branches are attached. In this case, the smaller hoses are manufactured with "weeping pores" that allow water to soak out all along their length. Once the porous branches are attached to the main hose, and placed strategically at the bases and root systems of plants, the water is turned on. The soaker hose allows moisture to soak gently into the soil.

Weed & Seed...

Even in well maintained lawns, spot or general lawn seeding is sometimes needed. Lawns can thin because of weather, a result of damage caused by insects, or grass diseases. Some badly damaged lawns need to be completely “rebuilt†before regular maintenance can do much good.

There are three general categories of seeding: spot seeding, lawn renovation and overseeding a lawn, and renovation. What type is right for growing grass on your lawn depends on the condition of your turf. 

Whatever type of seeding is done, there are three important rules to follow when seeding a lawn:

  1. High quality seed should always be used
  2. The seed has to make good contact with the soil
  3. Enough water has to be supplied to assure germination and establishment.

Tip #1: Choose the lawn seeding system that's right for you and your turf.

Spot seeding is a quick and easy way to repair things like ruts along driveways, areas worn by foot traffic, and small areas that have died for any reason. When spot seeding a lawn, use a stiff rake or potato hoe to cultivate the soil and break open the surface. Apply seed to the open seedbed and gently tamp down.

Over seeding a lawn broadcasts the seed over a large area. This works well when the lawn just needs a general “thickening up.†Over seeding can be done along with lawn aeration or by itself, but doesn't work too well when there is a heavy thatch layer.

Lawn renovation is for lawns that have excessive thatch, or are so thin, that only a complete rebuild will get the lawn back on its feet. Lawn renovation can be done several ways: old sod can be removed with a sod cutter; the lawn can be de-thatched and seeded; or slice-seeding can be used. Slice-seeding (or verticut seeding) is probably the best for growing grass because it “drills†the seed into the soil without having to remove a large amount of thatch.

Tip #2: Before you begin seeding a lawn, consider the current season.

It's true that seeding can be successful any time of year, but spring and summer lawn seeding require more care and water, and weeds and crabgrass cause a lot more competition. Seeding a lawn in late summer or fall is ideal. Early fall is preferred because seeds can germinate faster in the warm soil and continue to establish itself through the cooler weather of fall and winter. There's also more natural water in the fall so less sprinkling is needed.

Tip #3: Whatever time of year you choose for seeding your lawn, remember to keep the seed moist until you have good germination.

Tip #4: Sprinkle lightly several times a day during hot weather until the grass is 1†tall.

Tip #5: Avoid any type of weed control until the new grass has been mowed 4 or 5 times.

Timmy's Tool Box will return next month with some useful hints, tips & Ideas to help make the most of your home. 

Martin & Co Stamford's Fourth Emergency Service.