It's Never Too Early To Begin Monitoring Soil Moisture April 5, 2019 By Zach Nicoludis, agronomist, Central Region

Monitoring soil moisture levels and hand watering to correct deficits early in the spring will set turf up for success later in the year.

Managing soil moisture levels is one of the most important responsibilities of turf managers. The need for judicious water management during hot, dry weather is obvious; but under certain circumstances, timely irrigation is equally important when winter transitions to spring.

Many golf courses have experienced harsh conditions this winter and turf injury is on many turf managers’ minds. While the jury is still out on the impact from this past winter, now is not the time to expose turf to additional stress from a lack of water when there is a simple solution.

Filling the irrigation system sooner rather than later makes it possible to water if dry conditions are experienced or if help stimulating recovery is needed. Even if turf is not actively growing, soil moisture content should be monitored frequently to ensure levels do not drop too low. It can be quite difficult to distinguish drought stress in semi-dormant turf, so rely upon moisture meters to help identify moisture concerns.

Pay special attention to recently renovated areas because fresh sod lacks a deep root system and will be more prone to drought stress. A more liberal irrigation approach may be necessary to ensure the shallow root system has adequate moisture as it breaks dormancy this spring. This isn’t a recommendation to overwater, but simply a reminder to maintain a healthy amount of soil moisture as turf breaks dormancy.


Central Region Agronomists:

Bob Vavrek, regional director –

John Daniels, agronomist –

Zach Nicoludis, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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