September 4,
  With the Maryland SoccerPlex 
A weekly newsletter to keep you informed about EVERYTHING Turf at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
This week in our Turf Talk we will discuss irrigation; the proper amount, the proper way, and the proper frequency!
Watering - it's a science!
While watering might seem like a completely obvious practice to maintaining a field it is extremely important to sustaining the life of a field. Fields that are not watered are subject to weakened or dead plant tissue and the root itself can dry out and die. That's why knowing when to water, how much to water, and how frequently you should water are extremely important to having a high quality, healthy field.
When should we water?
We know what you're thinking, doesn't mother nature handle the watering? Well, for the most part yes, however, irrigation is a way to supplement the rain we receive and keep the turfgrass healthy. For example, in July we received a whopping 7.33 inches of rain. As a result in July we very rarely had to water our fields because they were plenty saturated! Last week, when we were experiencing heat indices of over 100 degrees, we had to irrigate quite frequently to make-up for the extreme heat and lack of rain.

So, there is no exact algorithm that tells us when exactly we should water because it is largely based on weather (and we all know how unpredictable that is!) With that being said knowing your soil-type and keeping an eye of the turfgrass plant itself is a good indicator of when you'll need to irrigate. Native-soil fields contain natural soil and clay which can hold water better then a sand-based field with coarse sand, so a sand-based field is watered more frequently than a native soil field. Keeping an eye on the turfgrass plant will also let you know whether or not you should water. One known characteristic of a turf plant starving for water is "
foot printing," which is exactly what it sounds like, after walking on a grass field that is starting to wilt, the footprints will not spring back up, like that of a healthy grass. Another indicator of a need of water is you will see the plant leaf begin to turn purplish-brown.
How much is enough?
The key to properly watering an established field is deep and infrequent. By this we mean, no more than once or twice a week and about 1-2 inches of water for the week. It is better to water fewer times per week than more frequently because it allows the opportunity for the turfgrass to soak in the water, and dry off, which help the longevity of the turfgrass plant.

It is important not to over-water  your turf, the goal is to replace only the water that has been lost from both the plant (transpiration) and the soil (evaporation). The technical term for water loss from both is Evapotranspiration (ET), and this varies greatly depending on weather conditions. For example, when we have a very hot day with low humidity the soil dries out faster and the plant uses more water to stay alive, causing ET rates to be very high, potentially losing 2-3 inches of water. When you run irrigation that night, the goal should be to replace as close to the amount lost as possible. An over-watered turf can become unstable and is not safe to play on. In addition, you can run the risk of completely drowning the roots with will leave hem without the proper oxygen causing them to die.  If you stick to the mantra deep and infrequent you should be well on your way to a healthy, properly irrigated, field!
Next Week
Tune in next week for some more Turf Talk!
Ask Us Your Questions
Do you have a burning turfgrass related question? Ask us! We will be happy to answer it in future iterations of Turf Talk - just email us at, subject line Turf Talk Question.
Many Thanks to Fine Earth Landscape, Inc. for 
Their Continued Support of the Maryland SoccerPlex.

Learn more about Fine Earth here.