Tips & Techniques
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Water Right for Fall

Lawn & Yard Care

By Marty Ross

There’s an art to lawn watering, and there’s more to it than just keeping the grass going through the heat of summer. Watering in the fall, which people often neglect, helps maintain healthy, vigorous grass plants, so your lawn goes into the trials of winter in great shape. All you need are some smart lawn watering tips, a good sprinkler and a trusty watering nozzle.

Watch the Weather
Sprinklers are used to supplement natural rain, which falls irregularly in most places. It is important to watch the weather, not the calendar, and water only when your lawn needs it. If you walk across the lawn and the grass plants do not spring back in your footsteps, it’s probably time to water. You can also check the moisture in the soil by poking a screwdriver into the ground and making a hole big enough to get your finger into. If the soil feels moist, wait a day or two to water.

Water and Feed Growing Grass
Cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass, fescue and rye, are actively growing in the fall, recovering from their summer dormancy. Cool fall temperatures keep evaporation rates low, but these grasses still need an inch to an inch and a half of water every week until frost ends the growing season. Cool-season grasses are also typically fertilized in the fall, and watering after fertilizing is important to wash the fertilizer off the blades of grass and down into the soil.

Warm-season grasses such as zoysia and bermuda grass grow best when the air temperature is above 80 degrees. They slow down when daytime temperatures start to drop, but they still need moisture to remain healthy. Continue to water them as long as the grass is growing and you are mowing the lawn. Fall is not the time to fertilize warm-season lawns. Wait until spring, when their active growing season begins.

The Right Sprinkler for Fall
Gilmour’s Wind-resistant Rectangular Sprinkler is a great lawn care tool for fall watering. The oscillating sprinkler is heavy enough to sit level on top of grass plants, and the sprinkler’s 20 jets reach a rectangle 65 feet long and 55 feet wide—almost 4,000 square feet.

2-dial

If your garden is not a perfect rectangle, a dial on the sprinkler allows you to customize the sprinkler pattern to fit your lawn and avoiding watering the patio and the sidewalk.

The sprinkler’s jets are designed to provide even coverage with a lower spray height than most oscillating sprinklers, which is good for your lawn and your water bill. The slightly lower spray height helps limit water lost to evaporation and also keeps the spray down out of the wind, so the water doesn’t evaporate or drift away in a breeze before it reaches your lawn. This feature is especially useful for windy fall days.

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Tools for Targeted Watering
A sprinkler is great for watering large areas, but there’s no need to water the entire lawn if only one area needs attention. When you’re targeting a small area, use a nozzle instead. With Gilmour’s Thumb Control Watering Nozzle, you can water grass gently (choose the Garden setting) in a dry spot under trees, or in an area next to a patio that you might have missed with the sprinkler. The nozzle’s eight settings also allow you to switch easily to water shrubs or trees (use the Shrub setting), clean off flower pots (choose Soft Wash) or rinse off the lawn mower after you’re finished mowing (with the Clean or Rinse setting).

The nozzle’s well-designed, low-tech simplicity needs no instructions: You turn the spray off and on and control the volume of water with a flip of your thumb.

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Don’t Forget Drainage
To make sure your lawn care tools go into the winter season in great shape, drain the water from sprinklers and nozzles after you are finished with them. Disconnect your hose from the spigot, drain it, coil it up and hang it in the garage. Take care of your watering tools—they’re helping to make your world a greener place.

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