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Watering Your Lawn Part One

Water is essential to the health of your lawn, in more ways than the obvious. Turf grass also uses water as an internal cooling mechanism in the really hot days of summer, and shade grass especially needs water as an external cooling agent.

More often than not, we see lawns that are watered too frequently but not long enough each time. Frequent, shallow watering encourages shallow roots and contributes to thatch accumulation, soil compaction, and even weed seed germination. Shallow roots also make your turf less healthy and more prone to disease, insect infestations, or damage from heat and cold. Deep watering produces deep roots and healthier grass.

Everyone’s lawn is different when it comes to soil type, slope, and the condition of the lawn. Moreover, water pressure, a big factor in watering your lawn, differs from house to house. But we can give you easy step-by-step instructions to find your own watering schedule that will best benefit your lawn. It usually takes less than an hour of your time, and then you’ll know how much and when to water for the rest of the summer.

Your lawn needs 1” to 2” of water per week, and each time you water, the water should reach a depth of 6” down into your lawn.

Here’s how to determine your watering schedule:

  • Next time you’re getting ready to water, set an empty tuna fish-sized can in each area where you’re going to put your sprinkler. (If you have an automatic sprinkler system, set the tuna cans in strategic areas throughout your lawn before the sprinklers come on.)
  • Turn on your sprinkler for 30 minutes.
  • Turn off your sprinkler
  • Stick a ruler into the tuna can and see how much water is in it.
  • If you don’t have ½” of water, keep watering (time yourself!) until you do.

Now, let’s determine if your lawn needs 1” of water per week or 2” per week.

After you have gathered ½” of water in your tuna can, take a 6” screwdriver and push it into your lawn, up to the hilt. If it goes in easily, you’re done! If not, you need to water some more, perhaps gathering up to 1” in your tuna can. (Caution: If, at any time, water is running off and down the street, you need to stop for 20-30 minutes, let the water soak into the lawn, and then resume watering. This usually occurs due to heavy clay soil or because your soil is compacted. An application of Super-Soil liquid aeration in the spring would help.

After you have determined the length of time you need to water to reach ½” (or ¾”, etc.) then simply water for that long, twice per week.

The above is rule-of thumb only, because many factors come into play in your lawn’s need for water. For complete details, please read on!

While your lawn needs approximately 1” to 2” of water per week during the growing season, it needs at least ½” of water per week during the winter or dormant season. This helps insulate the grass during cold weather and protect against freeze damage. And if you’ve had a lot of snow, just remember that one inch of snow equals only one tenth of an inch of water. We know it’s inconvenient to water in the winter, but a dry, cold, windy winter can damage your turf if temperatures fall too low.

If you have automatic sprinklersbe sure you check them from time to time to make sure you’re getting complete coverage and that a sprinkler head isn’t misdirected and possibly flooding an area by pointing downward.

Water early in the morning, if possible, to avoid evaporation during the heat of the day, or the development of fungus and diseases from being wet at night. However, watering at any time is immeasurably better than not watering at all!

Your lawn tech or anyone in our office would be happy to help if you have any questions about watering!