When the fall season starts to arrive, most people start thinking about ordering a sprinkler system blowout and preparing for winter. But it’s not that simple. There are a lot of variables at play:
- Seasonal precipitation
- Ambient temperatures
- The health and age of your lawn
- When grass really puts down roots
If you’ve written yourself a sticky note that says, “When to stop watering lawn in Texas,” this article should help you solve that puzzle. In the end, we want to find a happy medium between a healthy lawn and good environmental stewardship.
A Few Lawn Facts
It’s important to know that people waste water — lawns don’t. In fact, watering your lawn is far from a bad thing. A well-maintained lawn actually reduces urban heat loads, traps pollutants, enriches local oxygen levels, helps recharge the aquifer, and provides a fire barrier. Keeping it in good health is good for the central Texas ecosystem.
But it’s also important to know how best to care for it — neither over- nor under-watering — so it can stay as healthy as it can be. So if you’re trying to figure out when to stop watering your lawn in Texas, here are the facts.
Growing Season Variables
Some seasonal variables will actually help make the decision for you. Around here, where the weather is sure to change if you just wait five minutes, that can be tricky.
One of the biggest seasonal variables is ambient temperatures. Generally speaking, once the ground is frozen, you don’t need to water your lawn anymore because it has gone dormant for the season. The rule of thumb about frozen ground is that, after about three nights in a row below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the ground is frozen.
Fortunately, we have lots of modern tools to help us know about this condition in advance, so you can plan for the all-important seasonal sprinkler blowout and keep all of your underground piping and sprinkler heads from bursting in the freeze.
Healthy grass grows the most in the autumn, so it’s critical to not only water but also fertilize your lawn all through the beginning of fall. This is actually its most important feeding of the year, so if you only feed it once, do so in the fall.
Grass really puts down roots at the end of its growing season, and these deeper roots are the reason why a more established lawn needs less water on the hottest day of summer, which is a good thing.
Soil Quality Variables
Sandy soil types don’t retain much water and drain quickly. Loamy soil with more clay tends to hold moisture much better, but it does not drain as well, so overwatering is a real risk. This will all make a difference in when you shut off the water.
You can topdress your lawn with about half an inch of compost every fall after it’s aerated. This will help fortify the soil, nourish your lawn, and aid in moisture retention.
Grass Varieties and More
Here in Central Texas, we have a lot of options for turf. A lot of the most popular sod is a blend of grasses, including Kentucky blue, rye, and fescue. But there are other options too, including Zoysia and Bermuda, which don’t need much water. Varieties including fescue and Kentucky blue need a lot more water.
It makes a lot of sense to educate yourself on the particular varieties that constitute your lawn so you can make an educated decision on when it’s time to stop the sprinklers for the year.
The age of your lawn is also going to make a difference. If it’s well-established, it needs less water because its roots are deeper. A lawn that has just been seeded or sodded will need lots of water.
When to Stop Watering Your Lawn
Knowing when to stop watering your lawn in Texas mostly just comes down to being observant about temperatures, rainfall, the first freeze, and the condition of your lawn. It’s best to keep it watered right through October sometimes, but it all depends on your individual lawn and its individual needs. Keep it healthy for all of central Texas.
Grass Works has been providing Expert Local Lawn Care Services in Central Texas: Austin, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Avery Ranch, Bee Cave, Lakeway, Steiner Ranch & West Austin since 2007! Need help with your landscaping? Get a free estimate today!