Lawn watering doesn’t require a bachelors degree, but you might be surprised if you follow these few simple rules, tips and guidelines. It can make a big difference on your water bill, and the health of your lawn. Below I’ll answer some of the most common questions home owners have, and debunk some of the biggest myths people have when watering their lawn.
When is the best time to water my lawn? It’s best to water in the early morning between 4am and 8am to minimize evaporation. Watering at night can lead to certain lawn diseases because of the exposure to excess moisture for extending periods of time. Watering during the heat of the day can cause your grass to be scalded, not to mention the water loss due to evaporation.
Can I water too much? Yes! Too much water can cause your lawn to develop lawn diseases, algae and a ton of moss.
What are some signs that my lawn needs to be watered? Turning brown is the obvious sign, grass blades not bouncing back leaving visible foot prints and wilting grass blades with a bluish-grey tint are all signs that your lawn needs water.
Why does water run off my lawn after a few minutes of watering? Chances are you have clay soil, which doesn’t absorb water as quickly as sandy or coarse soil. Run off is also common with soil that is compacted from heavy foot traffic. A lawn core aeration should be a part of your lawn maintenance program, which helps breaks up compacted soil.
The area I live in has water restrictions, what do I do to keep my lawn green? Well, you can’t fight what is! Drought is a real problem in some areas of the country and keeping grass watered is not a top priority. When you can water, water in the early morning, and when you mow, mow high. Higher grass helps the lawn hold the water longer before evaporating.
What is deep watering? It refers to watering deep enough so that you have moisture at least 6 inches deep. If you have clay soil, this is a little tough without having run off. Getting your lawn aerated helps, and watering in 15 minute intervals multiple times a day does too so your lawn has a little more time to absorb the water.
How do I check to see if the water is getting at least 6 inches deep? A soil probe or shovel! A soil probe is a hollow metal tool that is pushed into the ground to eject a soil plug. This will allow you to see how deep the water is going into the soil. If you’re not seeing moisture at least 6 inches deep, you might want to add another 15 minute watering cycle to your watering schedule.
Does the type of soil make a difference on how long I should be watering? Yes! Sandy and coarse soil absorbs water quickly, but doesn’t hold it as long, so frequent watering is needed. Clay and loam soils require shorter watering cycles to absorb the water and avoid runoff.
How much water does my lawn need? There’s different rules depending on what grass type you have? A general rule of thumb is 1-2 inches per week. The best way to determine this is by putting a tuna can or something similar in your lawn and measure how much water you grass is getting per watering.
What’s the best sprinkler, or sprinkler system to use? There are too many sprinklers and sprinkler systems on the market to review every one. To be safe and avoid water waste use a sprinkler that disperses big water drops, not mist. If you’re using your standard hose sprinkler, also be aware of sprinkler placement so you’re not watering the side of the house, driveway or sidewalk.
Sprinkler timers are not always the best! The use of a sprinkler timer works great in areas when you know rain is not in the forecast! But if you live in areas like the Pacific Northwest when rain can come in waves, even in the summer, you’re just wasting water and money! Don’t water unless you have to, so if you do live in an area where rain is always a possibility, please invest in a moisture sensor. So if it rains, your timer knows not to water a wet lawn.
Too much water is not good! Just like anything in life, too much of anything is not a good thing.
Drought stressed grass can lead to weed problems! When your lawn is not getting watered enough it becomes weak and vulnerable, and weeds love that! A healthy thick lawn helps keep weed seeds from germinating.
Watering a lawn that’s on a slope – The same rule applies for watering a compacted lawn. Water multiple times, in short intervals until you see run off, then stop. Until you know how long that is, you should watch and time how long it takes until you start seeing runoff.
Watering a newly planted lawn—Lawn watering is very important when planting new grass seed. You should never let new grass get dry, it should always stay moist – no exceptions! The best way for your new grass seed to hold water and stay moist is to make sure you cover the seed with peat moss or a good compost (top dressing). Peat moss and compost helps hold water for longer periods of time and acts as a green house because it also holds the heat, which will speed up the germination process.