Landscaping During a Drought

Prepare your landscape for the dry summer

Turf can significantly cool down your house but many people are looking to get rid of all their grass altogether.

KOLOlogoIf you plan on living on your property for another five or ten years, you can take it out and create a beautiful landscape with a third of the turf and probably using 1/10th of the water you’re using now.

But before you fork out thousands of dollars, there are cheaper alternatives, like changing your sprinkler nozzles. You’ll save 20-30% on your water bill right off the bat.

Click to view the full KOLO 8 News Now story from Catherine Van.

 

KOLO TV provides some smart tips on what homeowners can do in the area to prepare for drought.

  • Aerate your turf in Spring as well as in the Fall
  • Walk your irrigation system and check for leaks
  • Swap out older inefficient nozzles for water-smart nozzles (for your turf irrigation)
  • Whenever possible, move to DRIP irrigation to water trees and shrubs
  • Program your clock for the seasons – spring, summer, HOT summer, fall then winterize properly
  • Have a licensed Irrigation Technician set up your system each spring

If you have thoughts or concerns on how best to prepare a watering program for your landscape this spring, call Tim at Signature to receive a free consultation on steps to take.

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Turf & trees have different water needs

Trees and turf often share space in home landscapes, but they have different water needs. Understanding this can help conserve water and save money.

A tree is a thirty-year investment that can easily add up to $5,000 to a property’s value!


Tree suffering from overwatering

Tree suffering from overwatering

Bluegrass turf requires about 1inch of moisture per week during the spring and fall and about 1 1/2 inches in summer, depending on temperatures and winds.

Water should be applied once or twice a week on heavier soils in spring and fall, and potentially two to three times during the heat of the summer. For lighter, sandy soils watering may be needed more often.

This frequent irrigation is good for the turf, but not so for the trees that live within the turf.

This frequent, shallow watering encourages trees living within the turfgrass to develop shallow roots. When periods of drought occur, these trees do not have a deep root system that would allow them to pull water from deeper in the soil profile and that’s when we see them become drought stressed.

One other problem that trees encounter while living in the over-irrigated turfgrass environment is that daily watering of turf also prevents the soil from drying out, this also is harmful to trees.

Tree roots need oxygen to develop correctly. Soil that is constantly saturated with water will prevent oxygen from being present in the soil. This will prevent proper root growth and this will lead to drought like symptoms.

Furthermore, trees planted in irrigated turf must try to compete with turf to capture moisture and nutrients within that top 12 inches of soil. Inevitably the turf will win every time.

Homeowners will find it more practical to meet the differing needs of trees and turf if they group trees within large mulched beds. Trees would prefer to be watered deeply and less frequently than lawns. They should be given 1 to 2 inches per application.

Healthy grouping of trees on a separate drip line

Healthy grouping of trees on a separate drip line

We encourage watering trees deeply and infrequently to encourage them to develop a deeper rooting system, which makes them structurally stronger and more resilient to years of drought because they can capture water deeper in the soil profile.

A typical tree has most of its water-absorbing roots in the top 12 to 24 inches of soil. Those roots also expand out more than one and a half times further than the drip line of the tree. These massive root systems allow trees to draw moisture from a larger area.

The objective to watering trees should be to irrigate to the depth of the root zone and provide adequate water to the area under the drip line and beyond.

Trees would prefer to receive moisture every seven to 10 days, possibly even 14 days, depending on species. The best way to know if a tree needs to be watered is to insert a soil probe or a 12-inch-long flat-head screwdriver into the ground. If it goes in easily there is no need to water; if it is difficult to insert into the ground, it is time to apply some moisture.

It’s also important not to apply too much water or fertilizer around the trees near the end of the growing season, prior to first frost. That would stimulate tender new growth that could be damaged by the freeze. However, after the leaves have dropped, if winter is dry, water should be added once a month.

Other factors to consider when trying to figure out a watering routine and amount to apply are:

  • Soil: Heavy soils require more water less often. Sandy soils require more applications, but in smaller amounts
  • Location in the landscape: Trees placed on south and west sides of buildings and homes require more frequent watering than trees on the north and east
  • Time of year: Trees need to be irrigated less often in the spring and fall, because temperatures are lower and less evaporation is occurring
  • Species of tree: Some trees species require more water than others

Knowing trees’ water requirements is more than a good way to conserve water; during a drought, it might be the key to saving valuable trees. If water restrictions are enacted, homeowners should give trees higher priority than turf.

 

Special thanks to Amy Seiler and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for information on this article.

Pre-season garden work that pays off

‘Dirt’ ~ ‘Soil’ ~ ‘Mother Earth’ ~ Whatever you call it, some of us like to dig in with our own hands and others would rather have someone else do the digging. Either way, if you want a great garden this year, it’s best to get the soil in order before someone starts digging.

February is an ideal time to apply compost, regardless of the weather. That means you can even toss it on top of the snow!

  • Need help getting compost into your garden? Signature Landscapes’ lawn and garden pros can can help you identify the right mix of compost and soil to help your garden grow.

Why compost?
Compost on its own is low in nutrient value. It’s not valuable for what it is, so much as what it does – and the doing takes time. Even if you are not able to till compost into the soil when you apply it, an early application gives the compost adequate time to do its work.

Why winter composting is good
Compost needs time to mellow or break down and that’s why a winter-time application is beneficial, even if it is not tilled into the soil. Compost creates a homogeneous soil mixture ripe with microbial activity. This process does not add many nutrients to the soil, but improves the soil’s capacity to hold onto both nutrients and water. It improves the root zone. That is why compost is so good for the garden and of course, the plants grown there.

How to shop for compost
Shop for compost that is well-aged and low in salt. Also, look for varieties that have little or no fillers. Compost by nature is all organic, so composts that are labeled “mixes” that contain sand or other inorganic fillers are generally less than optimal.

How much should I buy?
Applying 1 cubic yard of compost per 100 square feet of garden is the rule of thumb. However, if your soil has been well amended in the past, you can use less. The best value is in bulk purchases, so if you have 100 square feet of garden or more, a pick-up load might be the most cost effective. Most pick-ups hold 1 ½ to 2 cubic yards. If you order bulk delivery from a supplier, the minimum order is usually 5 or more cubic yards.

Reminder: Compost is about more than growing good veggies. It’s a key ingredient when establishing a healthy, low-water lawn and for all the other plants in your landscape.

 

$20 Lawn Care for Hot August Nights Fans!

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That’s a Big Deal!

Attention Hot August Nights Fans!

You see our trucks caring for your neighborhood every day. Let our professionals take care of you too – with a $20 deal for all new Signature Landscapes customers!

  • Professional Mow
  • Detailed Edging
  • Finishing Trim
  • Clean-up Blow

Call Julie or Kirsten at (775) 827-5296 and start your Guaranteed Green™ program today!

Service includes complete mow, detailed trimming, precise edging and a clean-up blow to ensure you’re satisfied every week! Lawns up to 2,000 square feet. New Signature Landscapes customers only.  

20discount-iconSign up this month and receive $20 OFF our Spring & Winter Irrigation System Turn-On and Winterization Program! Start the season with a smart irrigation program, and end with the secure knowledge your irrigation system is winterized properly and safe over the winter!


$20 MOW SERVICE REQUEST →

Watering Variations & Sun Exposure

Over- or under-watering often results because not every part of your yard and garden requires the same amount of moisture due to exposure to the sun.
SIGNATURE LANDSCAPES SOLUTIONS
Easy-to-set controllers with multiple, independent programs, like the ESP-Modular, allow additional watering times to be programmed for areas with more sun exposure. Low-volume drip allows the customization of precise water delivery to individual plants or groups of plants, based on specific watering needs and exposure to the sun.

Call (775) 827-LAWN (5296) for a quick and helpful phone quote. Or visit SigLands.com and schedule a free consultation. Our team will help you get the most out of your current irrigation system today. We’re proud to use Rain Bird products for a green, healthy lawn!

Heat stress on your lawn

Just like any other living creature in Northern Nevada, your lawn can suffer serious heat stress symptoms. Caused by high heat and lack of rainfall, dry summers and lack of humidity, we’re seeing heat stress is really take a toll on our local lawns.

Consistent watering is one of the most important practices in taking care of your lawn right now. 

 But be alert – temperatures over ninety degrees day after day can cause a slowdown in grass growth. With our low humidity, the blades of grass can experience a daytime wilt which can cause a loss of color normally associated with a healthy lawn. But don’t stress yourself…this does not necessarily mean the lawn is dying or in serious trouble.

Your grass is comprised of 80% water. High heat and low humidity takes some of this away, even with good watering practices – hence the wilting. But properly watered lawns will recover much more quickly than a drought stressed yard when the longer nights and cooler days return.

Water at least 2 to 2 1/2 inches per week. One inch of water should re-wet the soil about 6 inches deep. To determine how much water has been applied, set a straight-sided can under the sprinkler.

And remember, without adequate water, your heat stressed lawn will quickly turn into drought stressed lawn.

In a drought stressed lawn, grass soon turns brown and becomes dormant. An early clue to drought stress is when grassy areas show a dark bluish-green cast. Begin applying water when the soil starts to dry out and before the grass wilts and has a chance to become brown.

A word of caution about limited watering: A single watering during a high heat and/or drought period is likely to do more harm than good. If the grass cannot be kept actively growing with sufficient water, it is best to let the grass go dormant. Inconsistent or “light” watering during extended dry periods will slow the rate of recovery when adequate rainfall does occur. Bluegrass is very resilient and will come out of the heat and drought quickly as long as it is properly cared for and steps are taken to keep insects and weeds out of the stressed or dormant areas of the lawn.

Some things you can do when water restrictions prevent you from watering as much as the lawn really needs:

  1. Make sure your irrigation timer/clock is set to provide all the water your grass needs this month.
  2. Water only that part of the lawn where improvement is most important.
  3. Use a sharp mower blade; the cleaner the cut the less water the grass blades will lose out of the injury done by the cutting.
  4. Mow regularly until growth slows, but at a higher (rather than lower) cutting height.
  5. Make each watering consistent and make sure enough water is being applied to moisten soil to a good depth.
  6. Remember, with our losw humidity, a ten minute watering of most sprinkler systems will not likely get enough water into the soil. This will force the roots to go shallow and weaken the lawn’s resistance to heat stress and drought stress/damage.

If you have questions about your irrigation timer, how to propertly adjust for this high heat, don’t hesitate to call us. Our PLANET Certified Irrigation Technicians can quickly help get your lawn’s watering needs on track.

Call Signature Landscapes at 827-5296 and we’ll come out immediately!

Organic Lawn Care now available in the Truckee Meadows

Organic Lawn Care now available in the Truckee Meadows

We believe there’s good news ahead for your lawn’s natural health and well-being. You can always improve the structure of your soil by amending it with the appropriate materials to achieve the desired structure for the turf you are growing. And our organic program leads the charge for a fresh start.

Changing to organic lawn care practices often requires the application of products which are not used in chemically dependent lawn and garden care. Reno Lawn & Landscape will manage this process in order to help your turf reach it’s peak of health.

You see, our organic strategy makes life favorable for the grass and unfavorable for the weeds – so the grass chokes out the weeds. Naturally!

Under our organic lawn care program, the presence of pests in large enough numbers to cause damage or a nuisance is recognized as a symptom of an underlying problem or imbalance in the ecosystem which must be corrected. The techniques and materials used present very low risks or no risks at all to human health and the environment.

Reno Lawn & Landscape’s creative combination of professional care and organic fertilization will provide rich beautiful beds and lush thick turf. Organic soils have better physical structure, preventing erosion; are more permeable, which increases healthier microorganism growth; and provide more availability of nutrients which are necessary for crop productivity.

Reno Lawn & Landscape’s Organic Lawn Care is:

  • People and pet safe
  • 100% natural and organic
  • Eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers when scheduled properly
  • Adds life to lawns providing beneficial soil microbes
  • Promotes hardy root system
  • Fast effective natural results
  • Continuous feeding for up to three months

Call our professionals today and learn how we can help you create a productive, organic, healthy soil which assures essential nutrients are continuously available to your lawn. (775) 827-5296