For overall lawn health you will want to turn your sprinklers on by the end of April. In the Cedar City climate grass should go dormant in the fall due to cold weather, not because watering was stopped prematurely. In the spring it needs water as soon as it comes out of dormancy. Lack of water in the first few weeks will not kill your grass, but it will prevent the root growth and development that will be needed throughout the rest of the year.
In the spring, a little bit of water goes a long way. The quantity and frequency may be 10% or less of your summer watering but skip it and you will see the consequences all summer long. If your grass doesn’t have the spring preparation it needs it will be less tolerant of the summer heat, more susceptible to weeds and bugs, and show a brown/silver tint instead of a deep lush green.
Sprinkler start-up & inspection in 5 simple steps:
1- Inspection the System
Physically inspect your backflow preventor device and each of your valves. Make sure any drains on your backflow device are closed and each valve is closed. Also, make sure any non-automatic drains or faucets on the system are closed.
2- Turn on the Water
Turn your water on slowly. In Cedar City this is generally done by using your 5’ water key and opening the stop and waste valve. Make sure the valve is 100% open or it will leak. Allow things to sit for a few minutes and then re-inspect your backflow device and valve boxes to make sure there are no leaks.
3- Inspect each Zone and Head
Use your control timer to run through each zone allowing you enough time to inspect each head on each zone. Make sure no heads or nozzles are broken and that all heads are spraying in the correct direction. Make any adjustments or repairs if necessary.
4- Saturation Test
Perform a soil saturation screwdriver test. To do so use a regular flathead screwdriver. Insert the screwdriver into the ground. Very little force should be needed to get the screwdriver to penetrate 5-6”. If that is not the case your lawn needs water. Manually run the water (keeping track of time per zone) for a few minutes and then repeat the screwdriver test. When the lawn is saturated so the screwdriver easily penetrates at least 5”, note how long was needed on each zone as this will be each zone’s watering time.
Perform the screwdriver test every 2 days and water when necessary for your yard. With temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s it will most likely be every 5th or 6th day. It will be best to water in the mornings so you can keep an eye on things and to allow the sun to dry off the grass. As temperatures rise into the 70s you will want to begin increasing both the frequency and the length of watering.
Your lawn will green up, the roots will grow, and when the July heat hits your lawn will look better with less water, hence saving you money and giving a better result. Don’t hesitate to contact your landscape professionals at Everything Exterior with any questions or concerns.