How To Water a Lawn

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This article provides tips for watering your lawn
by Brett · All Zones · Watering · 0 Comments · June 28, 2010 · 7,515 views

Watering a lawn can mean the difference between a lush, green lawn you can be proud of or a burnt-out patch of withered up or dead grass. Certain types of lawn grasses may require a lot of water during the hotter summer months, while others may require less. Where you live, climate, and whether water is abundant or in short supply, are important factors in helping you to choose the right grass type for your lawn.

Strategies for Watering a Lawn

Below you will find some strategies for watering an established lawn and/or reducing your water use while still getting good results.

Watering Retsrictions - First, you want to find out if your community has watering restrictions. Many communities have responded to water shortages by implementing laws that restrict how many times per week residents can water their lawns, or for how long, and/or at what times. If you live in such an area, this article can still help you.

When to Water - Water only when your grass needs it and never in the late evening. Watering in the late evening or at night might leave water on the grass blades which can lead to the onset of damaging or deadly fungus and disease. For this reason, automated irrigation systems should be set to run during the early morning to early afternoon hours.

How to Tell When Your Lawn Needs Water - Your grass will tell you when it needs water. When about 30% or so of the grass blades in your lawn turn from green to bluish-grey, and older leaf blades begin to curl, it is time to water the lawn.

How Much to Water - Water only when your grass needs it. Keep in mind that overwatering not only waste's water but can also be bad for your lawn's health by contributing to the development of damaging fungus and disease. Watering less frequently but more deeply is recommended, however, different soil-types will absorb water at different rates. Watering deeply will encourage deep root growth. Frequent shallow waterings encourage weed germination, and they also cause the grass plants' roots to grow shallow, leaving the plant more susceptible to drought and to certain diseases. Deep watering to moisten the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches or more, if possible, is most beneficial.

You can determine how long to leave the manual or automated sprinkler(s) on by using the following method:

  • Turn on your sprinkler for 15 minutes. Observe whether or not there is runoff before the time is up. Then, after 18-24 hours, find out how deep the water soaked in by digging a small hole in the watered area or using a probe (a probe will push easily through damp ground). You can also push a shovel into the ground and use it as a lever to spread the soil apart enough so that you can see several inches below the surface. Once you see how deep the water went in 15 minutes, you can calculate how long you need to leave your sprinkler on to water to the necessary depth of at least 6 inches. For instance, if the soil is moistened to a depth of 3 inches from 15 minutes of watering, you would need to water your lawn for 30 minutes to achieve a 6 inch depth.Note: For clay soils that do not absorb water as readily it may be necessary to water several times for shorter periods of time to avoid runoff.

Note: You can estimate how much water you'll need based on your soil type. In general, 1" of water will penetrate sandy soils to 12", loamy soils to 6-8", and clay soils to 4-5". Using these estimates isn't quite as accurate as digging, but it's pretty close, especially if you have a good knowledge of your soil composition.

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