The Q&A Archives: Grass Roots

Question: What can I use to get our lawn to have deeper roots? We use the Scotts products exclusively, and have for some time. I noticed last year and this year that the root system for our grass is very shallow, so this season while raking up the dead grass from last year, I can actually pull the grass up from the soil, and the root system is very shallow. An annoying problem, to say the least.

Answer: Frequent, shallow watering generally results in shallow-rooted turfgrass. To encourage the roots to grow deeply, you'll need to apply more water, less often. Try a deep soaking once a week during the spring and early summer, and a deep soaking twice a week during the hottest summer months. Turfgrass generally requires about one inch of water per week to keep it green and healthy. To measure how much water your sprinklers put out, place a few cat food or tuna cans on your lawn and turn on the sprinkler. After about 15 minutes, go out and check the amount of water that has collected in the cans. If it's less than an inch, turn the water on again, and time how long it takes to get that water level up to one inch. Once you know how long the sprinklers must run to supply one inch of water, you'll know how long to leave the water on each time you water the lawn. If the water runs off into the street or sidewalk before you've applied one inch, you may have to interrupt the watering session for 15-30 minutes until what's been applied has a chance to percolate down rather than run off. I'm one of those people who enjoy standing out in the yard, watering by hand. It's a difficult transition to go from watering each evening by hand to using a sprinkler once or twice each week, but your lawn will be healthier for it!

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