Root Depth Setting? - Flex schedule

Weather is getting hot in Salt Lake City, noticed the lawn is not looking as healthy as it did in early spring (imagine that). In an attempt to get the green back I started looking into the advanced zone settings. I wanted to get the most accurate data put into the app to see what it could do.

First was a soil test to determine soil type; perfect - Sandy Loam.

Next was nozzle type, rotor head default was perfect. On to the next

Area, used the online tool to set up my sqft. Next.

Root depth… hmmmmmmmmm. Well, I took a core sample in the front yard, found out my roots went down 3.5". Took a sample in my backyard (new sod) and found the root depth very shallow (figured) at 2". This was a big difference from the 6" default.

My question is should the root depth be set to the actual root depth, slightly longer to encourage the roots to grow deeper, or left at default (6") which sort of seems like a waste of water to me?

I also dropped the MAD down to 40% based on some other posts I read on here to increase frequency.

I am in year 2 of reviving this lawn after the previous homeowners, I can only guess, had the lawn care prowess of a newborn child. I want the roots to grow deeper so I can maintain a beautiful looking lawn through these summer months without watering everyday but I feel like the deep watering that is occurring now is not benefiting me.

I am conditioned the soil with Humate (IFA) twice a year and also use IFA’s 4-step program after its fantastic results on my last home so feeding is not a problem.

Any advice would be appreciated, thank you!

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@uteadddy, great question!

First off, nice job collecting the data needed to fine tune your Flex Daily schedules. Good data = good schedules. If you know the root zone depth is less than the default depth, it would be in your best interest to set it at/slightly deeper than the existing roots. This will help you in a few ways:

  1. Save water (and money) only watering the root zone area that actually has roots.
  2. Flex Daily schedules will better reflect the actual moisture balance in each zone as it currently is calculating your roots are making use of water deeper in the soil

I would recommend training the lawn over time by decreasing the root zone depth by small increments on a seasonal basis until it eventually reaches the default depth to encourage your roots to grow deeper and become more drought resistant.

I hope this helps. Let us know if you have any other questions we can help answer.

Best, Emil


Just to check if my understanding is correct, but if one changed their root zone depth from 6" to 4", would that result in the schedule running more frequently (because it will take less time for the yard to dry out to the 4" level vs the 6" level), but it will take less water per scheduled run (because you’re not watering as deep)?

@uteadddy, thanks for this post. My entire lawn is 11-month old sod, and I had the same question. Haven’t done a core sample yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s nowhere near the 6" root zone depth that I have it as in the Iro. :slight_smile:

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@aristobrat That seems about right. I highly recommend reading this article if you haven’t already. The ‘zone attribute’ table has most of the Flex Daily trade-offs that are a part of setting changes.

  1. What is the best way to test the root depth without having to buy any specialized equipment? Just dig up the grass in one spot, hold it up and measure the furthest down a root is visualized?

  2. For both grass and shrubs: If I have my root depth setting too deep (i.e. default settings), is it safe to assume that my more shallower roots (i.e. newly planted shrubs, or short grass roots) will experience some drought/stress waiting for the next watering? I know MAD plays a part in how frequent it will water, but overall, the plant will not thrive as well if I am watering to a depth deeper than the roots currently reach, correct?

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That’s what I did, but I felt lame when doing it. :wink:

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When I dug up small parts of my grass before when doing the soil test and checking for bugs, I never saw any roots really down below 3 inches or so. My lawn has never been super healthy and I’ve never water appropriately so perhaps it’s something I will work on with time.

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Perhaps you could pound a bit of PVC pipe into your grass via a bit of twisting get a core sample to come out in the pipe. It may not work if the ground is too dry or wet. Then use something smaller in diameter like rebar to push the core sample out. That will probably compress the sample a bit so perhaps measure the depth the of the pipe before you pull it out of the ground to help you compensate. I bought a core sampler and the main differences are a slightly narrowor tip to keep the sample in the tube when you pull it out and there is a section missing from the side of the tube so you can see the sample without removing it.


@Modawg2k Did you get a chance to read that stolon/rhizome versus root article that I sent a while back ? As I understand it it’s easy to be deceived.

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I actually forgot about those articles but I just read them and it makes it far more clear about the anatomy of Bermuda. Thanks for passing that a long. Its very clear where the stolon growth is on my grass.

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I actually thought of the stolons as places where the grass was struggling to survive so it was doing a final reaching out to colonize somewhere. But it sounds like it’s just one of the few options it gives itself in normal/healthy situations to grow

Yeah, interesting. This is more than I knew a few months ago. I’m not sure if I put this link out before, but it’s interesting. In particular, I thought this section was interesting:

“If you were to cut the stolen between the daughter and the mother, the daughter plant will continue to grow and become the mother to other daughter plants. Professionals in the industry know this. For example, when planting bermudagrass, they will often go through and cut the stolons. That will break the tie to the mother plant and force the daughter to send out stems in different directions. This method will thicken and fill in grass faster than if the stolons were not cut.”

If you’re going to use RoundUp on that overgrown Bermuda that you have maybe you want to chop those stolons off by your edging so its harder for the RoundUp to get back to the main part of the lawn ? FYI, there are even places where you can buy stolons to grow bermuda, vs. seeds. One of the benefits is that birds don’t eat stolons!

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I may try that in my problem areas. In the area below that I posted about, I now have stolons running all over the place.

@Modawg2k My lawn hasn’t come in too well for the past couple of years. I hadn’t detatched in a while so I took a dethatching rake to it last week. I pulled out 4 large garbage bags of thatch from a 500 sq.ft. yard. I’m sure I cut plenty of stolons in the process. Hoping it has a positive impact instead of stressing it out too much. Anyway, if you have a dethatching rake or can borrow one it might help that area?

By decreassing rooth depth, you mean making it deeper, right?