Your lawn is an ecosystem - a community of living organisms and non-living components that interact to produce nutrients and to consume nutrients - a cycle of life. St Augustine grass and soil microbes are the living elements. Soil, water, air and organic matter are the non-living elements.
Lawn Ecosystem: Water is Critical
All the elements of this ecosystem are important, but water is the one element that when in short supply, the cycle of life stops and the ecosystem collapses. Soil microbes need water to move around and to keep their fragile bodies from drying up. Water is critical for the enzymatic digestion of organic matter and the transportation of nutrients. It also regulates temperature of the soil and provides the removal of excess wastes from the ecosystem. Remove the water from the ecosystem and everything comes to a screeching halt - the ecosystem collapses.
You can grow a lawn without soil - it is called hydroponics. You can grow a lawn without organic matter and even soil microbes. But without water, the cycle of life stops and the lawn will perish.
The Problem Is Our Sandy Soil
Our Pinellas sandy soil do not store or hold water for any length of time. Our sandy soil is like a bucket with holes in the bottom - you fill it up and the water leaks out the bottom. This takes about 72 hours.
Real Life Example: If it rained on Tuesday morning, by Friday afternoon your lawn will be water stressed and on Saturday your lawn will go into survival mode - photosynthesis stops, leaves curl up and die, removing excess leaves and shoots, all growth stops - all to conserve water. Your lawn is dying - the cycle of life has been interrupted. Unless it rains, the lawn perishes.
But, had the automatic irrigation system ran on Thursday morning, the ecosystem would have never had a water shortage. The St Augustine lawn would continue photosynthesis, producing more leaves, more stems, more shoots and more roots. The cycle of life would have continued making nutrients and the lawn would keep consuming nutrients to provide the energy to grow, recover and thrive. It is healthy lawn.
Related Article: How to Set Up Your Irrigation System to Keep a St Augustine Lawn Alive with 2x Week Watering Restrictions
Sandy Soil Solution
The solution to the low water holding capacity our sandy soil is an automatic irrigation system. An automatic irrigation waters on a regular schedule preventing water shortages in the ecosystem. With a continuous supply of adequate water, the cycle of life continues, uninterrupted, making nutrients and consuming nutrients.
A St Augustine lawn is more than grass - it is living, breathing ecosystem made up of living and non-living elements. Within this ecosystem is the cycle of life for the lawn - the making of nutrients and the consumption of nutrients. All of which is dependent upon water - no water, no lawn. But with an irrigation system, you can grow a beautiful healthy lawn in Pinellas County.