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August 2, 2013

Water: The answer to keeping a lawn green

Q: My lawn looks fine this year. I know it’s because of the rain, but what can I do to keep a lawn green through the summer?

A: The word is irrigation, i.e., water.

Most lawns require 1 to 2 inches of water per week in the summer – more in hot, dry weather. For most areas, watering twice a week is plenty. Lawns growing in sandy soil may need more frequent irrigation; those growing in clay soil, less frequent.

Water efficiently! Water is a valuable resource that should never be wasted, so it’s important to irrigate your lawn efficiently. Hose-end lawn sprinklers come in a variety of types, such as oscillating, rotary, traveling, and pulse-jet. Hose-end sprinklers are much less expensive than underground systems, but they require more time and attention because they have to be moved. Inexpensive, battery-operated controllers or mechanical timers can be attached to hose-end lawn sprinklers to regulate lawn watering.

Determine how much water your sprinklers are applying by conducting a can test: place several flat-bottomed, straight-sided containers (like tuna or cat food cans) around your lawn. Water as usual for 15 minutes using your favorite sprinkler head, then measure the water in the can.

If your sprinkler is applying more water than the lawn can absorb, and it is running off down the driveway and into the sewer, turn the sprinkler off for a half hour and let the lawn absorb the water, then resume sprinkling.

There are some low-precipitation sprinklers being introduced to the market. They use less water, just like a reduced-flow shower head in your bathroom; the water flows at a slower rate, but maintains pressure.

North Shore Gardener by Barbara Barger is a periodic feature of Friday’s Living section. Reach Barbara at nsgardener@comcast.net or write c/o Gloucester Daily Times, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester, MA 01930. Previous North Shore Gardener columns can be found at www.nsgardener.com.

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