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Oklahoma State University

Watering tips to keep turfgrass healthy during the fall

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Proper irrigation is essential through the fall months to help ensure a healthy lawn next spring.

With any luck, Oklahoma homeowners have only one or two lawn mowings left in the season. Although the days are numbered for mowing chores, irrigation is a must throughout the fall in order to maintain a healthy lawn.

Many other gardening chores are on hiatus until spring, but keeping your lawn watered is a key component of healthy turf, said David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Extension consumer horticulturist.

“Fall watering helps your lawn recover from summer stress, as well as gain strength for the winter season,” Hillock said. “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. Granted, there typically is more rain and dew, along with less evaporation at this time of year, but that’s not enough to keep the grass roots well hydrated and healthy going into winter.”

For homeowners who fertilize in the fall, watering is necessary for that fertilizer to dissolve and soak into the ground where it’s needed, he said.

Hillock said warm season turfgrasses, such as bermudagrass, will go dormant over winter months, but still will need adequate moisture to maintain their health. Cool season grasses, including tall fescue, also need moisture or may die. In order to maintain good lawn health, homeowners may need to adequately irrigate turfgrass every 10 to14 days during dry periods.

“This can be difficult at times 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,” he said.

As the temperature gets colder, drain and store water hoses and sprinklers after fall and winter irrigation events. This will help prevent them from freezing and cracking.

“While enjoying the cooler temperatures, some of your gardening equipment can safely be tucked away for the winter, but don’t put away your hoses or sprinklers until the ground starts to freeze,” Hillock said.

OSU Extension offers more information on lawn maintenance and other gardening and landscape concerns.

MEDIA CONTACT: Trisha Gedon | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-3625 | trisha.gedon@okstate.edu

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