Remember as a child putting on your swimsuit and running through the sprinklers on hot summer days? I remember attaching a circular sprinkler made of copper to the end of a hose that blasted thin streams of water about 20’ into the air. Occasionally, my father would tell us to move the sprinkler to another area of the lawn when it became soggy. We had so much fun staying cool jumping through the water only to warm up again by lying down on the hot sidewalk.
With the record high temperatures currently heating up Colorado, dry spots are more apparent on many yards and kids playing in the sprinklers are harder to find.
Dry spots occur for several reasons. Obviously, dry spots may not be receiving as much water as the greener areas. To start with, put on your swimsuit and manually start your sprinkler system. You’re going to get wet. Check that the spray from each head is aimed correctly, not blocked by overgrown plants, and sprays the distance it was intended to cover. Adjusting or replacing the nozzle with one that throws the water farther might reach those dry spots.
Second, unscrew the spray nozzles on pop-ups and clean or replace the plastic screen just beneath it. These sometimes become clogged and restrict water flow. If your landscaping has been changed since your original layout, there might be sprinklers that are no longer needed. Capping unwanted sprinklers boosts the water pressure for the rest of the zone, reaching the dry spots.
Dry spots might also indicate extremely compacted soil. Aerate the dry spots with one of those foot stomping manual aerating tools and top dress the holes with a thin layer of fertile soil rich in water absorbing organics. Once the holes are filled, hydrate with a garden hose periodically until the grass grows in thicker and does better with the sprinklers. Worms will discover these organics and start working the soil for you.
With even more effort, cut out the dry spot and dig up some of the soil beneath removing rocks, concrete, and other junk left behind during the construction of your home. Add several inches of rich organic soil and mix it with the existing soil. Water thoroughly and replace the sod. Hand water regularly until the roots have a chance to go deeper into the fertile soil.
Dry spots may need a good soaking once in awhile. Instead of adding more time to the entire zone for a single dry spot, save water by getting a spray nozzle for your hose and manually launch a 30’ stream of water to the dry areas. This method delivers more water in the exact areas that need it, and usually invites kids to run around the yard, giving you something to aim at.