The month of December is a time of slow growth for your winter ryegrass.  We won’t start to see the resurgence of growth until early February when the temperatures start to warm back up.  Since we typically receive the majority of our harder frosts during December-February it is a great time to get outside and adjust your clock for the winter season.  If you are still running a summer watering schedule on your lawn, or if you haven’t adjusted your clock since you overseeded now is the time to make some changes. 

Many people have the same feeling about watering as they do regarding fertilizer and that is if a little is good then a lot is better.  WRONG!!!! Too much water is just as detrimental to your lawn as under watering your lawn.  At this time of the year your lawn uses very little water compared to the rest of the year and watering deep and infrequently every 4-10 days is plenty.  Obviously if you get some rain during that stretch you can extend the amount of days in between but this is a general guideline.  I am going to give you some water saving tips today for your lawn and show you how to reduce that monthly bill.  For many of you if you follow the instructions I set out today you could save as much as 50-60 percent on your next water bill.  The following tips I am providing are good for after your lawn has been fully established for at least a month.

  1. The first step is to check that your clock is functioning properly, and has a backup battery.
  2. The key is to water no more than is absolutely necessary and to water deep and infrequent.  A good deep watering will help promote root growth and also helps leach excess salt build up in the soil.  If you water daily your roots will never go down into the ground to get water because the soil is always saturated.
  3. Each sprinkler zone has a different watering need and this is dependent upon the type of soil you have and the area.  For example if you are watering on a slope, you cannot water for the same amount of time you would water the bottom of a basin.
  4. It is okay to let the soil dry out a little between watering.  Your grass is not under stress until it starts to show signs of wilt.  Symptoms of wilt will include a bluish tinge or noticeable footprints that don’t recover quickly when you walk over the lawn.
  5. This may seem like an odd suggestion but mow your lawn only when it is needed.  If you keep a sharp blade on your mower, and only cut one-third of the leaf blade you will allow your grass to use the water in the ground more efficiently.  The shorter you keep your lawn, the more water it is going to take.
  6. Make sure that your sprinklers are never blocked by excessively high grass around them and also make sure you are only watering the grass, not the driveway.
  7. Run through all of your sprinklers and check for broken heads, clogged nozzles, or leaks because you can lose as much as 15 gallons per minute.
  8. If you have a hill or knoll in your lawn that requires a significantly different watering cycle than the rest of the sprinklers in the zone, just hand water that area as need for supplemental irrigation.  This will prevent flooding and overwatering the rest of your lawn.
  9. If you have an excess amount of thatch or a compacted soil that will not allow you to water 8-10 inches deep then it is time to aerify.  During the growing season (summer) you can verticut or dethatch to also help this.  You don’t not want to do either of these during the winter or you will cause injury to your turf.
  10. If you have a shaded lawn area, plan on using about 30 percent less water than an area in the full sun.
  11. Avoid excess nitrogen applications that will cause a lot of growth.
  12. Always water first thing in the morning to reduce environmental impacts such as wind.  The best time is about 1-2 hours before sunrise.

Now everyone always wants to know in minutes how much they should be watering, but that answer is completely dependent upon your sprinkler system, water pressure, nozzle and sprinkler type, and your soil.  To determine when you have watered 8-10 inches deep just simply use the tuna can test.  Place several cans of the same size throughout your lawn and turn on your sprinkler system.  Measure the depth of the water collected in the cans.  You will then compare the depth of the water to the amount of time your sprinklers were on to determine how much water was used.  One inch of water will penetrate 5 inches in a clay soil, 7 inches in a loam soil, and 12 inches in a sandy soil.  Your areas are going to be different by soil types, profile, and lawn configuration so if watering for 20-25 minutes makes the water runoff your lawn, use the cycle soak method.  Program your clock to run for as much time as you can before runoff, then let it sit for an hour before coming back and cycling through again for the rest of the time.

Use these tips and get out there and adjust your clocks to the appropriate settings.  These tests don’t take very long to perform and you will see some nice changes in your next water bill.  Let me know if you have an idea for a blog or a topic that you think should be discussed.

College Football

Well let me start with the weekend and the conclusion of another disappointing football season for my maize and blue.  I would love to say that I saw some improvement over the last three years under Rich Rod, but without any defensive talent or coaching what so ever on that side of the ball I would have to conclude that the season was another failure and it is time to call Harbaugh or Les Miles.   I hate to say that Harbaugh is the answer after his tirade a few years ago about Michigan athletics, but I think everything was said out of spite in not being interviewed last time the job was open.  It does appear that I will at least get to see them play here in Tempe, but who knows what team will actually show up.  It is tough to go through a season where you know the other team is going to score every possession, and if you miss one on offense then the game is over.  Well I guess there was a little improvement but I don’t see Rich Rod making it past December 29th.

If you are an Auburn fan then it was a glorious weekend because again you learned that you can be down and come back and beat anybody in college football.  I thought for sure this was going to be the week end they stumbled and watched the BCS game get away from them.  It is probably a tough week to be the Boise State kicker knowing you just cost the university a BCS game and possibly the championship game berth.  The school is going to lose out on 12 million in BCS funds and after the loss it cost them the conference championship.  It appears that they may be looking at a home bowl game on the smurf turf and that is not where anyone thought they would end up.

How about the fighting Irish taking out the Trojans as I predicted last week?  With nothing to play for and several injuries USC found another way to cough up the game.  They will bounce back this weekend to beat their rival UCLA, but I think with the way things have gone for them this year we will start to see some recruits change their mind about attending there next year.  Another year of probation and loss of scholarships the Trojans have now put themselves in the rebuilding era.  It was hardly coincidental that Pete Carroll left before the Reggie Bush scandal and lack of talent started to show themselves.  I guess you can’t blame him because every program goes through the ups and downs, but surely they are a program that will recover.  Here are my picks for this week and after a 3-2 week; I have improved my standing to 23-13 on the season.

Arizona State -5 @ Arizona – This is a game that has one of those odd points spreads put out there by Vegas and they are enticing you to jump on the UA bandwagon.  That is just not the play this week in a rivalry game.  We all know who is better and that UA should run them off the field, but this is going to be a close game with UA winning 27-24.  Take ASU and the points.

USC -7 @ UCLA – USC is not a very good team this year and isn’t playing for anything except bragging rights to their close rival.  UCLA is a horrible team that cannot move the ball or play any defense.  Even if Barkley doesn’t play this is a blow out and the Trojans end the season on a positive.  Take USC to win 31-20.

Auburn -7 vs. South Carolina – The SEC Championship is an interesting game on paper but is not a good matchup on the field.  The Gamecocks have played well this year lead by the Old Ball Coach but they just don’t have the skill set or defense to stop Cam Newton and the Tigers.  The Tigers roll their way into the BCS title game with a lopsided victory 31-14 over South Carolina.

Oregon -16 @ Oregon St – The civil war is not going to be very civil this weekend.  Oregon is not happy with the latest BCS poll and they are looking to put a hurting on OSU.  Look for the quack attack to run like crazy and throw out all kinds of trick plays in this route of their rival.  The Ducks win in Corvallis 53-20.

Ultra Running Training

Since I started this small section on my blog I have attracted a whole new audience and I did hear from a couple people last week when I didn’t post anything new on the topic.  I am currently training for the Tucson Marathon on December 12thbut that has not stopped me from my real goal and that is to compete in the 100 mile Javelina Jundred next year.  I have several races between now and then and spend the wee hours of every morning training and getting ready for my next race.  While there isn’t another Ultra Run till early January I am still trying to get between 70-80 miles in every week on the trails.  Now that the cooler temperatures have set in, it does make it tough to get out of bed at 3:30am and head to the mountains, but that is what is necessary to stay up with the training.  Last week I spent a few days in Ann Arbor, Michigan and got my training in 20 degree temperatures with wind in my face training in, and needless to say I remember why we moved away 9 years ago.  While the cold temperature made me a faster runner so I could be done quicker, I would rather avoid anything less than 40 degrees at all costs.  Some of the upcoming races for next year are the 50K Coldwater Run in Goodyear, 50K San Tan Scramble, 50 Mile Old Pueblo run in Sonoita, 50K Trail Championships in March, and the 50 mile Zane Grey Crossing in Christopher Creek.  I have also signed up to do the Rim to Rim to Rim crossing in May and now I am just waiting on word for availability.  I am glad that so many people have showed interest in the running and I will let you know when anything significant comes up.  In the meantime I will keep trail running, mix in the Tucson Marathon, and try to improve my speed.

I hope you all enjoyed your long holiday weekend!