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updated: 6/15/2012 11:53 PM

When to water and when not to ... and how much

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  • Bill Zars/bzars@dailyherald.com Some people, such as this Arlington Heights homeowner on Walnut Avenue, prefer to keep their lawns green by watering during dry spells.

      Bill Zars/bzars@dailyherald.com Some people, such as this Arlington Heights homeowner on Walnut Avenue, prefer to keep their lawns green by watering during dry spells.

  • Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.comLarry Doyle waters part of his lawn Friday in Glen Ellyn. He has some sod that is less than a year old. "I'm not worried about the old established lawn. It'll burn out and come back." he said.

      Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.comLarry Doyle waters part of his lawn Friday in Glen Ellyn. He has some sod that is less than a year old. "I'm not worried about the old established lawn. It'll burn out and come back." he said.

  • Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comA nice contrast of colors in two separate lawns on Lily Court in Grayslake Friday. Many lawns are beginning to brown due to a lack of rain.

      Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comA nice contrast of colors in two separate lawns on Lily Court in Grayslake Friday. Many lawns are beginning to brown due to a lack of rain.

  • Christopher Hankins/chankins@dailyherald.comJohann Clemens of Cary puts up a sprinkler on the corner of his lot Friday afternoon in the midday heat. Most of his yard is in shade and is growing quite well, but the exposed portions are turning brown. "I try to do it as little as possible, but when it gets hot like that, I like to do it at least every other day where it is really dry. I just let it run for 45 minutes, I just want to keep it alive basically," Clemens said.

      Christopher Hankins/chankins@dailyherald.comJohann Clemens of Cary puts up a sprinkler on the corner of his lot Friday afternoon in the midday heat. Most of his yard is in shade and is growing quite well, but the exposed portions are turning brown. "I try to do it as little as possible, but when it gets hot like that, I like to do it at least every other day where it is really dry. I just let it run for 45 minutes, I just want to keep it alive basically," Clemens said.

 
By Hannah Meisel
hmeisel@dailyherald.com

The official start of summer may still be four days away, but the forecast doesn't seem to know that, and as a result, neither does the grass.

Hot rays of sunlight may be making grass brown, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, said William Shoemaker, senior research specialist at the University of Illinois extension in St. Charles.

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"If you allow the grass to turn brown, it's simply turning dormant," he said. "At some point when we have consistent rain it'll turn green, but it won't hurt the lawn to let it go brown for a little while."

But if a brown lawn just isn't acceptable, Shoemaker warns to water wisely -- a thorough watering upward of three hours is much more beneficial than watering in short bursts like an hour, he explained.

"If you water for less than an hour or so, it's effectively useless," he said. "The water will evaporate and leave grass dry."

Shoemaker said watering thoroughly every three to four days will make grass roots grow deeper into the soil, seeking more moisture, whereas watering sparingly everyday will cause short roots. The same principle can be applied to vegetable and flower gardens, he said.

As for the best time of day to water, Shoemaker said morning is preferred over midday and even the evening, since water on leaves plants more susceptible to disease and if plants are wet in the evening they tend to stay wet overnight.

Though Saturday and Sunday hold the possibility of scattered thundershowers, the coming week promises temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s, with sunny skies with little to no cloud cover, according to AccuWeather.

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