We know we talk a lot on the topic of proper irrigation and mowing practices to encourage deep root growth. However, we thought it would be beneficial for homeowners if we explained this important aspect of lawn health a bit more in-depth. Our technicians visit a lot of lawns in the valley and they see those homeowners who are properly irrigating and mowing, and those who are not.

Get the most out of our services and achieve optimal lawn health

Deep Lawn Roots Matter

A deep and healthy root zone will enable a lawn to tolerate summer heat and those times when your lawn needs to wait for water due to an irrigation repair. If you are one who has your irrigation system running every day for short periods you are encouraging your lawn to grow dependent on that watering cycle. Your lawn has no need to grow deep roots. Your lawn roots will just stay nice, comfortable, and lazy there in the top couple of inches of soil.

We like to compare this to raising kids . . . If you always give them everything they need all the time, they won’t learn how to get it themselves. They come to expect that their parents will provide. We all know the importance of encouraging our children to work things out for themselves, find solutions, and appreciate what we provide for them. We look for opportunities for them to stretch, work, and get out of their comfort zone a bit.

Now back to lawn roots, if you water less frequently and more deeply, the roots will get the water that they need. Then, when they run out of this resource they will go “searching” for deeper water, thus developing deeper roots. When those hot temperatures and moments of drought come they know how to survive and where to get moisture until they get water again. Just like what we hope our children will do.

Watering Recommendations

How much water a lawn needs depends largely on the air temperature, amount of sun exposure, and the number of mature trees and shrubs competing for water and nutrients. A good rule of thumb to follow is to water longer and less frequently as light and daily waterings cause shallow root systems. If you water 8-10? deep and let the top inch or two of soil dry out in between waterings your lawn will send its roots deeper. You can use a soil probe, or a long screwdriver to test the moisture level in your soil. About one hour after you have watered, push the soil probe as far as it will go easily. Did it go in 8-10?? If not, you’ll need to water longer until it does.

If your lawn puddles or has excessive runoff during a longer watering cycle you can use a cycle and soak method. Instead of setting your sprinklers to run for 20 minutes every day on your lawn, have them run for 20 minutes, soak and finish the other cycles, and then repeat the process two more times to equal one hour of total watering time on the lawn. Water only 2-3 times per week.

Cycle & Soak Method

  • Water your lawn for 20 minutes
  • Let it soak in for 30 minutes while it finishes the other cycles
  • Repeat two more times for a total of 1 hour of watering time
  • Water 2-3 times per week

Exposed Roots Can Get Scorched

We know that our homeowners love a well-manicured property with nice and tidy lawns. We love this and appreciate their efforts to beautify their surroundings and be good stewards in their neighborhoods. However, when lawns are mowed too short this can have devastating effects on lawns.

Lawns with shallow root zones (roots are lazy and hanging out at the top couple of inches of soil) will have their roots scorched by the sun, especially when it is mowed too short. The sun will heat those top couple of inches of soil and will cause lawn stress and dieback. If homeowners can learn how to grow deeper lawn roots and keep their lawn slightly taller, especially during the hottest months of the summer, those roots will not be as exposed to the harsh effects of the sun.

We recommend a 3" lawn height to help shade lawn roots and achieve optimum lawn health. Be sure to mow regularly to avoid removing more than 1/3 of the blade off at once. Dull mower blades will tear leaf blades which can cause injury and disease so be sure your mower blades are sharp.

Lawn Health Care

Here are two helpful informational pdf’s from Colorado State University that are worth reading on proper lawn health practices:

Here at Zing Services, we can provide you with solutions to getting your lawn strong and healthy. You can read more about our lawn care services and how consistent and regular lawn care can help you get the most from your fertilizing and weed control program.