How can something so simple in concept be so confusing in practice? You'd think watering a lawn would be straightforward, right? You simply put water on the lawn. And while that is the general concept, most homeowners go to one of two extremes. They either water way too much or not nearly enough. So why the big difference?
Well, watering is one of those things that most people don't think about. That is until their lawn is starting to show signs of stress. And then it's a game of catch-up. And with droughts like we had the past two years, playing catch up is a difficult game.
Watering best practices
First off, the best-kept secret of watering your lawn is to let mother nature do as much of the work as possible. So far this spring, we're doing pretty good from a precipitation standpoint. May was a little under average and June is too, but April was way over average. That said, let the rain take care of as much of the watering as possible. If rain is in the forecast, turn off the sprinkler systems and wind up the hose. An average lawn needs one inch of water per week -- and preferably in one or two doses. Hydrated grass blades will "spring" back after you step on them. Dehydrated grass will lay flat. A stressed lawn will begin to brown at a mostly even rate (with some exceptions).
So if rain isn't in the forecast and you have to water yourself, you will be best served if you know how much water from your sprinkler amounts to one inch of rainfall. The best way to do this is to take a pie pan or tuna can or some sort of shallow bowl and place it in your yard while the sprinkler is running. Let it run until your collection pan has one inch of water in it. If it takes 3o minutes, great. If it takes 3 hours, fine. Now you know. So, if there is no rain in a given week, let the sprinkler run the full amount of time to deliver an inch of water. If we get some rain, but you're not sure how much, add a little water through the sprinkler or irrigation system -- maybe half. Grass is happiest and healthiest when it is thirsty, but not parched.
Deep and infrequent
Again, the best way to water is in one or two sessions. Watering daily, for short sessions, isn't best for grass. First off, short sessions create a lot of run off. Secondly, healthy grass has deep roots. The way you get deep roots is to force the grass to reach deep for water. The way you do that is to water infrequently, allowing the water to penetrate deeply, then forcing the grass to chase the water.
Also, avoid watering at night. The best time to water is early morning. This prevents fungal issues and other diseases caused by the water sitting on the grass all night.
As we head into the hotter months of the season, keep an eye on your lawn and the water it receives. If you follow these tips you're lawn will thank you by staying lush and green all summer long.
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