Your lawn was looking great just a few weeks ago, but now patches of your grass are turning brown. What's going on? Is it a fungus? Do you have insects? Did your lawn company burn your lawn? At this time of year there's a good chance you're looking at drought stress. Today Ete discusses how to determine if you have drought stress and what to do about it.
If your lawn looks similar to these images below then you likely have drought stress. Here are some ways to identify and prevent drought stress:
During the first stage of drought stress, your turf grass will take on a bluish-gray appearance. Take a walk on your lawn and look for footprints left behind, a key indicator of a dry lawn.
Hot To Fix: Make sure your regular deep root watering to help the turf grass regain its moisture and recover within a day or two.
The second stage of drought stress is considered the tipping point because it’s the last stage where regular watering can revive your lawn. It’s also the phase right before all lawn growth stops. During this stage , turf grass growth is slowed and your lawn may appear patchy. This is due to unequal moisture reserves in your soil—some parts have more reservoirs, some less. Blades of grass start to fold in an attempt to conserve moisture and areas with compacted or poor soil dry out first.
How To Fix: Regular deep root watering can revitalize the lawn over a period of three to five days.
The third stage is when your lawn shuts down all—or almost all—growth and begins to ration resources. Your lawn takes on a greenish-brown color. Any mowing during this period can damage the leaves, stems and crowns.
Your lawn will need aggressive irrigation or heavy rainfall over a period of several days.
How To Fix: When your lawn finally replenishes enough moisture to begin repairing itself, you can expect recovery to take 10 to 14 days if watering returns to normal.
This stage is pure survival mode for your turf grass. There is no effort made to retain greenness above ground—your lawn will be completely brown. Turf will start to thin, but the crown and root tissues will remain alive.
How To Fix: Recovery includes thorough, deep and repeated watering or heavy rainfall for a period of 14 to 21 days. Unfortunately, any sections of your lawn suffering from poor soil may never recover.
The summer heat is here. The sun is beating down on your lawn with brutal intensity. Your lawn needs water. And it needs the right amount of water at the right times. How should you water your lawn? How much water does your lawn need? When should you be running my irrigation? How do you make sure your sprinklers are giving adequate coverage? Get the answers to your lawn watering questions today on Eco Lawn Science.
See the video version of this podcast here.
This product claims to save you up to 50% on your water bill.
Using smart technology it utilizes the moisture around your plants and lawn and converts it to liquid H20. Much of the water we apply through our irrigation and also from natural sources is not utilized by the plants/lawn due to evaporation. This helps the water you use go further saving you money and allowing you to use less.
In this episode I share some of the results that I have seen while using it on my clients lawns and landscapes.
Hey, hey, what is up everyone? This is Ete with another episode of Eco Lawn Science. Hope you're all having a wonderful day today.
I want to talk about a product that I really get behind. It's an organic, or at least an eco friendly. I need to check. It's been a few couple of years since I've read the label, so let me check on that one. But it's a great product and it helps the environment in so many ways, and it helps your lawn, it helps your flower beds, but it's really underutilized. Not everybody needs it, but there are some many that do. And I think the concepts behind this product could be a huge part in helping us battle overusing resources for our landscape, helping us battle drought stress, just a lot of things. So, there's a lot of value to everyone for it as far as it's going to help your landscape, your lawn survive the drought, but it's also, on an environmental standpoint, you're going to use significantly less water, so you're going to save money, save resources, especially in a place like Utah, Arizona, California, all these regions where it's not like back east and we have tons of rain. It's a precious commodity. And being less wasteful is a good way to put it.
So anyway, the product today is called Hydretain. I found out about this, it's been about eight-ish years ago. They're out of Florida, Ocala area, which is a cool little area not far from Gainesville. I know it. My aunt lived there for a while. My family lives in Gainesville. It's just a cool little area. Anyway, that's where these guys are coming from, but there's distributors around the country. And what it is, it's called Hydretain. And if you actually look at the word, "hydro," right, so we're talking about moisture, and then "retain" is in the title, so retaining the moisture, right? That's what it is. They call it a moisture management tool. And I'll tell you a little bit about, I've done some testing with it, I've had some great experiences, and I would like to share some things that I have learned, because it's one thing to see the marketing materials or talk to the company and see all their proof of videos, but it's another thing to have done it for myself. And like anyone, you'll have to do it on your own if you're interested.
But yeah, I wanted to share a little bit about my experience with it. I love the product. I think it's great and yeah, I'm excited. I wish there was more of this because I feel like we could use less water, use it up on our lawns and landscapes, and this is the answer. This is going to help us, especially here. We hit a drought season every year here in Utah, in Park City, and there's restrictions that go on.
And so this product needs to be applied usually around...here, about May. So, we get hot in June, but our lawns, our landscapes are still thriving, doing well. It's not till late June or July that the drought begins, the drought stress. And so this product, you want to put it down in the bountiful time. So you put it down in... depending on where you are, that could be May, that could be late June. You still could have plenty of rainfall. If you're back east where you get tons of rain, then you might have a drought August to September, in the Jersey area, maybe you'll put it down beginning of July. But you want to put it down when things are going good and you don't want to wait until they are already stressed and starting to go.
So, a little bit about my experience with it. I'd like to share just two stories. So, I've mentioned Park City, Utah, and it's very expensive to keep things wet up there. Just the layout of it, it's complicated. There's a lot going on, but water is very expensive. I had a client come and they would spend, I think in a month it was about $3,500 was their water bill, and that was for a lot that I think it was about a third of an acre, and a lot of that was just stone. But that was for a lawn, a small lawn, and flower beds and those type of things, and that was the price. And so I really started looking at it one, just saying, "Hey, we got to find a better way to save people money," but then two was, "We've got to find a way to reduce the amount that we're using because it is a drought. I don't want to run out of water because we're all trying to keep everything green and pretty."
So, we started looking around and that's when we found Hydretain. And since then, I know there's other companies that are making generic versions of this product. I can't speak for those, I haven't used those, so I can only speak for Hydretain. But as far as I understand, they're the ones that kind of came up with this concept and technology, at least first to market, and maybe I'm wrong there, but that was the one at the time.
So, I met with Hydretain, I watched the videos, I saw the research they've, and I'll get into it a little bit later, but they've had some great research done from different universities that have a great turf program. And what they did is they found that the amount of water that you were saving really depended on a few things, but they were finding some... So, the universities' studies are run on a bunch of different properties, some saved, I think at the lower end, about 20%. So they were having the same green lawn with 20% less water, which is a big deal if you think about, especially if you're in an area like Park City where it's expensive or drought, and then the highest was somewhere around 50 to 50% savings, and that was on a lawn. So they did it on crops as well, but we're going to talk more about lawns, home landscape.
And so they were averaging 20 to 50, 55% savings, and so I thought, "Wow, I've got to do that." Because like the prices have already told you, even if I can apply this for just my customers in Park City and help them save money, and of course, not use up as much because we need it, this is a big deal. This is a big game changer, especially in these drought states. And so I brought some in and we ran a test. And I'm going to talk about just two jobs. The first one was a 20,000 square foot property on a gradual slope in Park City. That's about a half acre. That's a good size turf. And I had been managing the property for about three years prior, so I know what this lawn looks like on our current program, but I hadn't seen what it would look like if we did big changes like this, so there was a little bit of risk. So I asked the homeowner to allow me to have access to the sprinklers the day of the treatment and that I was going to come myself and do this treatment.
So, I used the Hydretain ES, it's a granular. They have a liquid now as well, but I used a granular and I applied it with your traditional landscape spreader. This was a Lesco 80 lb hopper push spreader. And so I applied that and immediately I went to the sprinklers. So, it was a heavy little, like, limestone pellet almost. As soon as that was down, went to the sprinklers and I adjusted the water. And right off the bat, I dropped it to 25%. So I said, "Please tell me what your schedule is. We'll do the math and then we're going to do a 25% decrease throughout the week. We'll spread out over the week to see the results we have, and we're going to leave it there." And so with this property, we left it there for the whole summer. I did just the one treatment and I did it in May, like I said, usually around June-ish, that's when our drought season comes. I did it very, very end of May, so the lawn was still healthy, it was green, it didn't have the drought stress spots.
So, we did that, decreased the water 25% and then I left. So, we continued on the rest of the year with our normal fertilization program, which is about monthly, and every time we come for the next three or four visits for the summer into the fall, we took pictures of the lawn and we were able to compare them to previous. And what I found was with that one treatment, we were able to reduce the water 25% usage and the lawn looked the same. It looked as good as it did the three years prior.
And so, yeah, there's a lot more research we could do into it, and I know some people could say that's not much, but from my point of view, I know how the lawns look, I know what they react to here, I was really impressed the fact that I was able to literally take a quarter of the water off and still have the same color that we had every other year. There was one difference. The previous years, not the year before, but the year before that, on some of the slopes, they started drying out and it started going like almost dormant Brown in those areas, and on the year that I put the Hydretain, we did not have that. And so that really intrigued me. I didn't want to do any other changes except for that, and I was really thrilled with that. That was my first test.
My second one was a much smaller property where I applied it to the lawn and the landscape., I think in total, it was about a 5,000 square foot long, 3000 square foot of flower beds, about 8,000 square foot worth, again, on Hydretain ES granular. This was the same summer, because I was testing before I brought it in on a bigger scale, and I did the same thing. But this time I went up to 30% because it was a lot less of property, so I wasn't as worried in case it didn't fulfill what it was supposed to. So, I went up to 30%, meaning 30% water reduction right from the treatment, left it through summer, and the same thing. The property looked great, the plants looked healthy, everything just ran great.
So, since then I've used it, not as much as I'd like, but I've used it on some big commercial jobs, and everywhere I've used it over the years, things have done well, things have thrived and they've done really well. So, my experience is I really liked this product from the quality and the health and the color of the lawn, I was impressed, but then also just that idea of, "Wow, this one treatment literally just reduced usage by, on the one property, 25, the other property 30%," and I saw that, so this is a no brainer. I think everybody should be using this in the area, especially because, like I said, we have these drought conditions. And so that's really what got me excited about Hydretain.
From an economical standpoint, it made a lot of sense because this product to apply is more expensive. At the time, it was about three times more the price of a normal bag of fertilizer for me as a contractor, and so we did have to increase the price. But we found a great way to not make it too hard for the homeowners, but if their normal lawn treatment was 100 bucks, this one was about 180, somewhere in there. But then if you do the math for 180 and then they're going to decrease their water bill for the summer, the peak months, even at the lowest, at 25%, there's no question there. That's an easy solution.
So, let's talk a little bit about how it works, because that's one of the coolest things I got excited about. What happens is basically when you're normally watering your lawn, whether it's through rainfall, irrigation, natural sources, a large percentage of that is never ever even used by the plant, by the lawn or your target. And there's all kinds of research behind that as far as what is that percentage? Some scientists say it's as low as 10. I have seen research that says 45% of the water that you're putting down. So, every time you water your lawn, 45% is gone, it doesn't even hit the target. And so I don't have the exact number there. I am going to dig more into it and see if there's a more conclusive answer there. So, where is it going? So, what happens is it's basically this force, there's this force of gravity, right, which is pulling the moisture back up, an evaporation pulling moisture back up into the atmosphere. So, I mean, literally, you're putting it down and it's just sucking it out.
And so as the soils dry down, the water is depleted, and basically it leaves this moisture vapor behind. And so the idea, how they sell it, is they say, "Just like we can't drink humidity out of the air around us, plants can't use moisture vapor, right? They need it in the form that they need it." And so this product was actually engineered to take that vapor and collect it back into microscopic liquid droplets. So basically, there's moisture vapor, just reaching out... imagine little arms from your soil grabbing those little moisture vapor barriers and converting it back into liquid and allowing your lawn to use it. So, it's a really smart, smart product. The engineering is just fascinating to me. So again, just a really clever and just really smart product.
Some of the universities that they did the study and the testing... so the universities that did their own testing are Clemson, Ohio, Illinois University, Penn State and UF down in Florida. So, it's got some good credibility to it. And those are the ones I referred to earlier that were saying some of them got up to 55% water reduction. So yeah, it's been around, they've been testing it, and I've kind of shared a little bit with you about my experience with it. And here's just a few other kind of FAQ thing about the Hydretain if you are interested. One thing that I like is they have brought it to... not only is it for professionals, but now they have hose and sprayers for homeowners. So, you can find it yourself, a homeowner can hook it onto their hose and apply it. And you know what? I've actually done that.
So, I guess when I had it years ago, they were still in the beta phase, but now anybody can have access to it, so I'm excited about that. I did look it up earlier because I wasn't sure if it was organic or eco-friendly and I found that it's not certified organic but it's basically food grade, organic based products. So, they can't classify it as organic but it's darn close. It is safe for children and pets, like anything I would recommend. You can use it for potted and hanging plants if you'd like, besides of the lawn and shrubs outside, you can use it in your home for interior plants. And each treatment will last about three months. So, there was a job we did about two years ago. It was a commercial high profile job. So, we actually put it down before summer, and then towards the end of summer coming into the fall, so you'd get about a three month period.
So anyways, so there is Hydretain. I think the thing I just love about it is what I've seen is, wow, if I can get the same green lawn I had but reduce my water by a significant amount, I didn't even test past that. They claim and the universities found up to 50%, but I mean, I found 30, no problems. So if I can reap even 30%, I mean, wow, that's a big deal. That's a good step that I can do and I make my back through the savings of water, unless you're in an area where it's just free. More and more every year, I see all these articles coming out of Salt Lake, the concerns for the drought, the future of our state, the Rocky Mountain area, and so I think this is a great tool and a great solution.
So anyway, there it is. There's Hydretain. If you have any questions on it, you can hit me up, firstname.lastname@example.org. But thanks again. Hope you have a great day. I hope this one helps. See you.