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1. Check for leaks, breaks, tilted and clogged sprinkler heads.
When you see a brown spot in your lawn, the first thing to do is turn on your system and make sure that spot is being adequately covered. Much of the time, as we inspect home irrigation systems, we find that dry spots are the result of sprinkler heads that are tilted, clogged, broken, or turned. Making simple repairs can be all that is needed to eliminate dry spots.
2. Hand water dry spots.
Most of our irrigation systems don’t apply water evenly. They often over water one area and under water another. If you have a dry spot in your lawn and have already determined that all of the sprinklers are functioning properly, compensate for the inefficiencies in your system by hand watering dry spots separately instead of increasing the run time or frequency of your entire sprinkler system.
3. Make sure it’s drought, not bugs that are causing the browning.
There are several factors that can cause our lawns to brown, many of which look very similar to the lack of water. Insect damage is typically more spotty than drought damage (yellow grass intermitted with healthy, green grass). It will often lift easily when tugged on as most turf-insects consume the roots of the grass. To make sure the damage is occurring from insects, cut the grass and gently pull it away from the soil, exposing the insects. If you do have insect damage in your grass, adding more water will augment the problem. Consult your local nursery or lawn expert for an effective treatment.
4. Water deeply.
We sometimes think that we are conserving water by watering only a few minutes every day. This can be harmful to the grass which can lead to over watering. If grass is watered every day, the roots are likely shallow and will dry out quickly in hot weather, causing us to think that we need to water more. The proper thing to do is to apply about a half inch of water every watering and wait as long as possible between irrigation events. This will force turf roots to grow deep into the ground. If you have been watering every day, try backing off to every other day or maybe even every third day. Your grass may experience some initial stress, but don’t you stress — it’ll recover and look great.
5. Let your grass grow a little longer.
While many homeowners like the clean-cut look of short grass, keeping it a little longer will help keep it green in the heat. Between two and a half to three inches is ideal. It’s long enough to shade the ground to minimize evaporation and sustain a deep, healthy root system without looking too unruly.
Keep an eye on your lawn and check it often to make sure to fix issues before it starts looking really bad. If you need specific help coming up with an individualized irrigation schedule or want an assessment on your system, sign up for a free water check at slowtheflow.org. If you live in Weber, Davis, Morgan, or Summit counties call 801-771-1677 to schedule a free water check.