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Wetting Agents… The New Tool?

The summer of 2016 was rough, no question. It was hot AND it was dry. Only lawns with strong irrigation systems actually did well. Without sufficient water, does the lawn have any hope?

Yes and no.

No, the grass won’t survive without adequate water. However, there is actually a new way to improve the situation tremendously. In the heat of the summer, soil often behaves a bit like a dry sponge. It actually rejects water at first, and is very slow to absorb it over time until it gets fully saturated. At that point, it behaves more like a wet sponge, letting water flow more freely. During lighter rains, water will sit on the surface at first, then very slowly start penetrating into the soil, just a tiny bit at a time. When the rain stops and the sun comes out, it then dries up again very quickly since the water never got very deep into the soil . The roots of the grass then remain in dry, lifeless soil even after adequate water was put down. It was enough water, but it didn’t get where it was needed.

Wetting agents can help remedy this problem. These products are applied in granular form and last about 45 days. They break down the natural surface tension of the water, so it soaks into the soil much more easily, thereby wetting the entire root zone. Once the rains stop and the sun comes out, much of the water is already several inches deep where it will be taken up by the roots of the grass instead of evaporating into the air.

Below is an image of a lawn where a wetting agent was applied in July 2016. The grass nearest to the camera was left untreated while the grass in the distance was treated with a wetting agent. The difference is pretty drastic.

For now, wetting agents will be an “additional service” in our repertoire. They are more expensive than fertilizers and pest products and applications need to be done at very specific times. Before planning anything, it would be critical to discuss them in more detail and how they may or may not be ideal for your lawn program. Just give us a call anytime for a free quote on adding a wetting agent to your lawn program.

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