It’s the time of year when gardeners get a bit of reprieve from landscape chores. There may be another mowing on the horizon, but many other gardening duties are on hiatus until spring. Well, except for watering the lawn. Although it’ll need to be done much less frequently than in the heat of the summer, the grass will still need a good drink periodically. Fall watering helps your lawn recover from summer stress and gain strength for the winter ahead.
In addition, if you fertilize in the fall, watering is necessary for the fertilizer to dissolve and soak into the ground where it’s needed. So, while the lawn mower and the hedge clippers can safely be tucked away for the winter, don’t put away your hoses or sprinklers until the ground starts to freeze.
Mother Nature’s precipitation can be hit or miss in the fall and winter months, which can be hard on your lawn. Inadequate rainfall or irrigation during this time of year can contribute to turfgrass winter kill. Fall watering can help combat that issue.
Warm season turfgrasses, such as bermudagrass, will go dormant over the winter months, but will still need adequate moisture to maintain plant health. Cool season grasses, such as tall fescue, also need adequate moisture during the winter months to sustain life. In order to maintain good lawn health, you may need to adequately irrigate your lawn every 10 to14 days during dry periods.
This can sometimes be difficult due to freezing temperatures during the days or nights. Ideally, irrigate your lawn in the morning on a relatively warm day when temperatures are expected to stay above freezing. In addition, remember to remove, drain and store your water hoses and sprinklers between fall and winter irrigation events. This will help prevent them from freezing and cracking.
As the weather cools down and the fall lawn decorations start going up, keep in mind the importance of watering the yard. You want it to be nice and healthy when mowing season starts again in the spring.
David Hillock is a consumer horticulturist with OSU cooperative extension.