When is the Best Time to Water Your Lawn?

Understanding some of the foundational strategies for watering your lawn is crucial for maintaining a healthy and beautiful turf. The following guidelines serve as a starting point for understanding when the best time to water your lawn is, including frequency, timing, duration, weather considerations and water retention. While the following information is a helpful guideline, all lawns are unique and have different influences that will affect our recommendations. If you need help with your watering practices, start with what we have outlined here and then adjust accordingly. By implementing these strategies thoughtfully, homeowners can nurture their lawns effectively while contributing to sustainable water usage practices.

Frequency:
We advocate for the practice of deep watering. Deep watering allows your soil to dry out between watering cycles, prompting your lawn’s roots to delve deeper in search of nutrients and moisture. This process fosters a robust root system and promotes the overall health and strength of your turf. Deep watering happens when you water every other day, which if you follow the City of Bozeman’s watering guidelines you would already have this practice put in place. 

Timing:
The best time to water your lawn is in the morning, ideally between 5 am and 8 am. During this period, the temperature is still cool enough to minimize water loss through evaporation. Additionally, the weather is typically calm, reducing the risk of water being carried away by wind. Morning watering allows the lawn to dry as the day warms up, mitigating the risk of fungal diseases like leaf spot or mushrooms. Starting your sprinklers around May 1st, even with expected rainfall, can help protect your lawn against diseases and drought during the summer months.

Duration:
Your lawn requires approximately 1½” of water per week, typically beginning around May 1st. A general guideline is to run each zone for 30 minutes. This should equate to .5” of water every other day when doing deep watering. If you’re unsure whether that is happening or not, ask your Yard Guard technician or send a note to our office that you would like a Yard Guard measuring cup. Placing this cup in various lawn zones can verify water distribution. Alternatively, a small tuna can may serve as a makeshift measuring device. Adjusting sprinkler times based on individual needs can optimize water distribution and avoid  overwatering or underwatering certain areas.

Weather Considerations:
When considering weather conditions, the primary focus should be on ensuring your lawn receives the required 1½” of water per week. Coordinating watering schedules with rainfall can be beneficial, provided the lawn receives the right amount of moisture.

Water Retention:
Given escalating concerns about water retention, it’s crucial to water your lawn as efficiently as possible. Beginning early in the season is advisable to avoid trying to compensate for water deficits once temperatures rise. One trick we recommend is turning your sprinklers on early in the year and monitoring the rain. When it rains the equivalent of ½”, you can skip the next watering! Maintaining a consistent supply of organic material is essential for soil health, as organic-rich soil can retain more water and reduce compaction, facilitating proper water absorption. This is one of the main tactics in our Blended Organic Program.

In response to water retention efforts, we had planned to test a water-saving product this year on our test plots in Beall Park. However, due to the anticipated high drought conditions, we will be offering this service to our clients starting in 2024. Although the products claim you can reduce watering up to 50%, industry standards fall more in the 20-25% range. Many of our industry friends have reported positive results with this product, and ongoing tests will provide more precise retention data. For more information about this product, click this link.

We hope this information provides a helpful jumping off point for nurturing your lawn. If any of these points brings more questions to the forefront, give us a call and we’d be happy to talk through this with you. Remember that it’s not a one size fits all plan. It’s important to start somewhere and adjust accordingly to your properties preferences! Your lawn is a living, breathing thing and will have its own particular desires!

Is it Better to Power Rake or Aerate Your Lawn?

Picture this, it’s spring and you’re excited to have a nice green lawn, but you still have stubborn brown and yellow grass that seems to take forever to disappear so you start asking yourself: should I power rake, dethatch or aerate, or do all three???

All good questions to ask when you’re trying to take care of your lawn. Unfortunately, if you turn to the internet, you’ll probably get several different responses so I’m hoping to shed a little light on what we recommend for Southwest Montana.

Let’s address a few things: 

  1. Should you dethatch your lawn?
  2. Is it better to power rake your lawn?
  3. Should you aerate your lawn? 

We’ll step back and address the grasses that grow in and around Park County and Gallatin Valley, define what dethatching, power raking and aeration are and then answer the questions with our recommendations. 

First, what types of grasses grow here? We have cool season grasses, typically a mix of Kentucky Blue Grass and Fescue. Cool season grasses love the temperatures in May and June and Late September and October, but you won’t catch these grasses in the warm climate of the South. Our grass has a very short growing season, usually mid-April to mid-October. 

So why is that important? Since we don’t have a very long growing season, our grasses don’t have the chance to build up a thatch layer which brings us to answer the question: is dethatching recommended for my lawn?

Dethatching Recommended?

I’m going to start by saying that each lawn is unique and will need different things based on your mowing practices, soil structure and biology, fertilization practices, etc. so this answer will attempt to address the average lawns that we see. 

Dethatching is the practice of removing excess dead grass, debris and whatever else may be between your soil and grass layer (aka thatch), preventing the soil from receiving adequate sun, air and water. This is done via your standard handheld metal rake or something you can tow behind your mower.

At Yard Guard, we find dethatching unnecessary as this practice won’t get rid of all the brown and yellow grass that you’re seeing. Instead, we would prefer that you mow your lawn short in the early spring, think late March/early April, (before it comes out of dormancy) and bagging those clippings. This should give you pretty much the same results in half the time. The other option is to simply do nothing and wait 2-3 weeks until your lawn starts growing evenly.

Is it better to power rake your lawn?

Power Raking is a very aggressive and unnecessary approach. This uses a machine that’s about the same size as a push mower with tines that turn and rip the thatch up from the ground. While this might sound great, our season doesn’t create enough thatch to need this. Also, this approach will not only rip up thatch, but also a large amount of healthy, established roots. While you’ll receive instant gratification by removing some of the brown grass, it actually sets your turf back about a month in terms of its growing season, which is only a couple of months long anyway. 

Just like with dethatching, we don’t recommend power raking your lawn. If the brown grass bother you, we recommend one of these two alternatives:

  1. Do nothing and wait 2-3 weeks for your turf to have even, green growth
  2. It might seem odd, but get out in late March or early April and mow your lawn on a short setting before it comes out of dormancy and bag the clippings. This will remove the brown grass you see and show more of the new green grass coming through.*

*You can only mow your lawn short while it is still in dormancy. If you are too late and do this once it starts to green up you will stunt its growth.

Should you aerate your lawn?

Compaction is the number one limiting factor in soil. Why? Because compaction restricts air (the main limiting factor in growth), and water (which runs off rather than being absorbed on compact soil), then sunlight (obvious), then nutrients. 

With that, let’s talk about aeration. Aeration, whether done mechanically or with a liquid product, is the process of aerifying the soil, allowing more room for oxygen, water, and nutrients to take its place. Compaction is created from the use of the lawn (walking on it, pets, etc), poor soil structure (biology and organic material) and originally from home construction in the first place

If there is one thing we could recommend all of our customers to do every year (outside of being on our Blended Organic Lawn Program) it would be aeration. Whether it be mechanical, liquid or both.  

We are now offering a liquid aeration product that we love. It took a while to find one that wasn’t just going to be a temporary solution, aka didn’t use organic material or biology to change the soil structure. So now, our customers are going to receive a better product, not have to mark their sprinkler heads and they don’t have to deal with those plugs everywhere! We’ll be doing this application in the summer so give us a call if you’d like to add it to your lawn care program. 

I have always appreciated these questions from customers because they are essentially asking “what is the best thing I can do for my lawn to make it thrive?” I hope that with this blog, it’s more clear about what we recommend for our area. At the end of the day, I don’t want you to waste your time and money on unnecessary services that could have the reverse outcome that you were looking for. 

Our Favorite Winter Activities

Happy New Year! Hopefully, you’re reading this after doing a little bit of celebrating for the year to come, even if it was just a quick raise of the champagne flute!

We write a lot of blogs that are focused on helping your property be the best it can be, but for this one, we want to help you get to know some of our staff more so that the next time they come out to visit your property you can strike up a conversation on a mutual interest! Our customers and our staff are the heart of our business!

So we went around the room and asked our staff that are on for the winter season:

What are your favorite winter activities?

Keri (Customer Service Representative):
Keri is the happy and bubbly voice that helps you figure out all of your lawn, tree and holiday lights needs!

Keri’s Favorite Winter Activities:

      • Staying Inside – she’s not a huge fan of the cold.
      • Selling stuff from her phone on her couch – If you didn’t know, Keri also runs her own online boutique called Just Rad Market and it is truly RAD! Check it out if you’re also hanging out on your couch shopping. 
      • Hanging out with her family of 6 + 2 Great Danes – (hopefully you’ve seen Gus on our Instagram, if you’re not following us yet, start now!)
      • Snowshoeing – She braved her fear of the cold and rocked some snowshoeing! 
      • Potentially Pow Surfing – she said that she was getting a Pow Surfer for her husband, Ricky and that she would maybe be giving it a shot. Of course let’s all encourage her to do so! 

Tate (Field Manager) –
Tate gets to do a little bit of everything at Yard Guard, but his main focus is helping out current staff with questions and maintaining quality control, but you’ll also see him training new staff, spraying lawns and trees here and there and helping customers when they have questions about their property. 

His favorite things: 

      • Skiing – if you didn’t know, it’s said that Yard Guard has created a bit of a ski cult, eh hem, I mean club and Tate is a full contributing member of the club!
      • He loves Mexico, so he can’t wait for the next time to go surfing and buy the amazing street tacos!
      • In his spare time, he’s also growing out his mullet and may take up bobsledding. We wish him good luck in his endeavours 😂. 

Cisco (Customer Services Representative):
Cisco’s voice rivals Morgan Freeman and if you’ve ever called and spoke with him, you probably get the overwhelming sense that everything will be all right.

Cisco’s Winter Favorites: 

      • Hopefully skiing – We’re also trying to induct Cisco into our club, we’ve found him some boots and it’s only a matter of days before he’s ripping down Bridger Bowl!
      • Watching Football and cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs!
      • Spending time with family – his girlfriend Victoria and their two dogs!
      • Smoking Things – as a Georgia native and an expert in BBQ, we get pretty excited when Cisco offers to cook something for the team on the Traeger! Check out our Facebook post for our End of Year party when he whipped us up a crawfish boil!

Colin (Owner):
The man who makes it all happen! Colin makes sure all of us are well taken care of and that Yard Guard is running efficiently! Most days he spends his time in the office, but he loves to get out and meet our customers and vendors when he has the chance.

Colin’s Winter Activities: 

      • Skiing – Colin is the leader of this infamous Yard Guard ski club. If you joined Yard Guard and didn’t ski before, you certainly do now. 
      • Snowmobiling – rivaling his love for skiing, you’ll also see him zipping around and enjoying the “sweet” smell of two-stroke.
      • Working – if you know Colin, you know he loves what society would consider “working.” For him, finding a better way to do lawn & tree care or reward his employees brings him a ton of joy and in the winter he gets to focus on Finding A Better Way to do these things.
      • Going to Mexico – Colin & I (Sidne) love going to Mexico and enjoying the sun and reading a book on the beach. Usually we’ll try and make a couple of trips down in the winter. 
      • Traveling – because winter is our down time, now is when we get to take the time to travel. Beside Mexico, Colin loves doing ski trips or loading up the camper or sled and heading to different places to explore. This year we’re (Colin and I) headed to Japan to ski some POW!

Sam (Lawn Technician) –
Sam is one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet! He’s always willing to lend a hand and is well known for helping our customers as much as he possibly can so they’re excited about the health of their property. 

Sam’s favorite activities: 

      • Skiing – Sam’s been skiing forever and has now become part of our club! He’s one of the bada** skiers ripping down Bridger! 
      • Pow Surfing – he’s also a big fan of Pow Surfing so hopefully he’ll be teaching Keri a thing or two!
      • Hanging out with family – if you know Sam, you know that hanging out with his wife, Madi and their black lab, Lida brings Sam so much joy!

Reilly (Lawn Technician) –
Reilly has been with Yard Guard for two seasons now and is always eager to help and learn! When he’s not hiking around Three Forks, he loves making sure the shop is clean and that everything is running smoothly for his teammates!

Reilly’s Winter Activities: 

      • Snowboarding – (maybe one day we’ll get him to ski ;)) but this year, Reilly is learning how to snowboard!
      • Leaving – when he’s not learning how to snowboard this year, he’s excited to travel South to the warmer weather!
      • Going to the Hot Springs – While he didn’t have a favorite, it was very clear that he was excited to hang out in the hot springs and relax with a beer!

Sidne (Office Manager + the person writing this blog)
It’s always hard to write a description for yourself, but my main focus at YG is making sure the customer service team has the support they need and then helping Colin with whatever needs to get done. I love working on growing the business and helping with marketing when time allows!

My Favorite Things: 

      • Skiing – I was also not a skier when I first started at YG, but you should see me now! This winter, I’m just praying for snow….
      • XC Skiing – I love a good workout, so cross country skiing is a good alternative and something I can do quickly after work to burn some calories.
      • Traveling – I love planning fun trips in the winter, whether that be our quick getaway trips to Mexico or something larger like Japan! 
      • Reading – because we’re not as busy in the winter, I’m able to take the time to learn from different books that will help during our busy season! 

I would assume that if you are living in Bozeman or Livingston during the winter, you can relate to many of these! Hopefully we see you the next time we’re on the mountain (please pray for snow)! 

Happy New Year to you! Cheers to 2024. 

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