Learning how to water your learn involves way more than turning on the hose and going to town on your grass. As we approach summer, it’s becoming increasingly more important to utilize proper watering techniques. Some areas place limitations on water consumption during the season your lawn may need it the most, which means being effective—and ecologically smart—with your watering has never been more important.
One of the most important factors that can make your life a lot easier when it comes to keeping your lawn watered is grass length. Cutting your grass too short, letting it go dormant, or using an ill-maintained lawnmower can drastically increase the chances of a brown or poorly fed yard.
Always remember to perform proactive maintenance on your lawnmower and tractor, and keep the grass at least 2-3 inches. This will reduce the frequency of mowing sessions and encourage the roots to grow deeper, which means your lawn will need less watering.
For those dreaming of a green lawn, stop dreaming! Implementing a few key practices can help keep your lawn fed for the summer.
Limit your watering
In an ideal world—and with an ideal lawn—you should only be watering once or twice per week. You may think that’s too little, but you’d be surprised at how much damage overwatering can do to your lawn. Deciding on once or twice a week will depend on your soil composition. Soils that are relatively sandy can get by with one watering, whereas compacted or clay-like soil will be better off with at least two waterings per week.
Water at the right moment
The key to watering is doing so when the chance of water evaporation is at its lowest—that means watering during the coolest part of the day, which is morning time. Between 4 am and 10 am is the ideal time to water. The water has enough time to soak into the roots without collecting for long periods of time. A lawn left wet overnight can lead to the growth of unwanted fungi and diseases. The goal is to have the lawn dry by nightfall.
Use the right amount of water
The average lawn requires anywhere between one and one-and-a-half inches of water, at the very least, per week. If you’re not sure how much water that is, or how much water your sprinklers pump out, try this: take a used tuna fish can and sit it on the lawn where your sprinkler waters. You can use the can like a rain gauge to see how long it takes to provide an inch of water to your lawn for future reference. Knowing how long it takes your system to pump out an inch or so of water can help you reduce wastefulness and prevent overwatering.
During particularly hot weeks you may need to use more water, but that should be done on a case-by-case basis.
Water to the correct depth
You want water to penetrate the first six inches of soil. That means if you can’t push a six-inch screwdriver into the lawn, then you’re not watering enough. It’s good to periodically check the water penetration, which can be done with something like a shovel or again, a screwdriver of the appropriate length. You check the lawn’s moisture levels because you want to ensure optimal absorption by the grass’s root system.
The type of soil you have will ultimately dictate how much water you’ll need. And if you’re in an area that experiences frequent droughts or a lack of heavy rainfall, ensuring maximum absorption is even more important.
Give your lawn time to absorb the water
The soil and grass roots have to be given time to absorb the water, which means waiting in between sessions. Experts recommend watering for thirty minutes and then waiting thirty minutes. Repeating that cycle will prevent puddles from forming, and help you to avoid damaging your lawn. Giving the lawn ample time to soak it in is perhaps one of the most important ways to ensure an effective and environmentally friendly watering job.
If you’ve been following the “thirty and thirty” method and you’re still seeing puddles, you may have soil compaction issues. This can be solved by following proper lawn aeration techniques.
The healthiest lawn, and therefore the greenest, is the one that’s getting enough water, being watered at the right time, and for the appropriate duration. The best thing you can do for your lawn in the long term is to be proactive and observant. Taking note of puddles, brown patches, and soil moisture can be used to remedy common problems associated with watering.