When to water lawns and how to irrigate grass are frequent questions asked. Watering the grass is essential for plant life but if managed correctly it doesn’t need the amounts people seem to think.
If applied correctly, 1 to 1 1/2 inches of lawn water weekly is enough for healthy grass. That amount includes rainfall and irrigation.
Conserving When You Water Lawns Benefits Grass
It’s pretty sad when you think children die every day because they don’t have enough clean water available. You’d be surprised how often people turn their sprinklers on to water lawns just to impress the neighbors.
How often do you see someone watering a lawn while it’s raining. I call that irresponsible.
Unless you’re trying to get seed to germinate, every day light irrigation is the wrong way to water lawns. This practice is called syringe watering.
Depending on your soil texture, all that does is moisten the top inch or two. The result of that kind of practice is the roots don’t have to go anywhere for their moisture. Like the synthetic fertilizer it’s routinely available at the surface.
Best Way to Water Lawns
Training grass roots to go deep into the soil to get their lawn water and nutrients is a necessity for successful turf. The longer the roots, the healthier and more sustainable the plant is.
Roots have more contact with soil when they’re able to grow long and deep. That results in more chance for absorption of water while allowing biology to do its job. Correctly water grass and you will achieve this.
Regarding cool season grasses, when the heat of the summer arrives the lawn has to deal with stress periods. If you water grass roots deeply, the turf will do better because it is still moist deep into the soil.
Do you know what does like light frequent lawn watering? Weeds like it. Cutting the organic lawn short, and light daily watering is exactly what a weed wants. Frequent watering is also an invite for disease and non-beneficial insects.
Water Grass 1 1/2 inches a Week
For established turf, 1 – 1 ½ inches of lawn water a week is all you should be giving your lawn. That application should be done in a short amount of time.
That doesn’t mean water grass 1 1/2 inch on top of the amount of rainfall you get with nature. It’s the total amount of lawn water combined. Depending on where you live, you may only occasionally need to supplement watering the grass.
The optimum way to water lawns is to apply a 1/2 inch. Let it soak in a little bit and then apply the remaining inch. Absorption is better if lawn water is applied to a moist surface as compared to a dry surface.
The greater the amount of organic matter in the soil the better the soil retains the grass water. This is especially helpful on a hilly surface.
On a 20% grade only 15% of the water gets absorbed during a rainstorm
with soils having inadequate organic matter percentages. The rest is run off,
causing erosion and if you use chemicals it goes into the sewer system and
A good way to measure the amount of water using a sprinkler is to lay a few small pans from the sprinkler head out. Turn on the water, time it and see how long it takes to reach the one – inch. Then you’ll know how long to leave the sprinkler on.
Once you know how long to leave the water on, if you use a hose and a lawn sprinkler, purchase a timer they’re cheap enough. If you have an irrigation system, adjust the settings or have someone do it for you. If you have a rain gauge make sure it is working properly.
You can find all your lawn water needs in our organic lawn care store.
In long drought periods, if you want to increase watering to every 4-5 days that’s fine. Sandy soils will require a more frequent light watering than clay soils, which in turn need water lawns less often. Use your own judgment. If your leaving foot prints on the organic lawn after walking on it, or it is a slight shade of purple, you know it is time to water. It takes a little practice and experience to judge it this way but if you can master it, your grass and water bill will benefit greatly.
With cool season turf, it is the natural process for a lawn to go into dormancy during dry, hot periods of the summer. If you can’t keep up the watering schedule, it’s better to let it take its natural course instead of forcing it out of dormancy and then letting go back in again.
When to the Water Lawns
The best time to water lawns is in the morning before the sun has a chance to evaporate it.
On a hot day, any watering between 10 am and 2 pm will be subject to evaporation. If the grass is watered before sunset, the lawn will be still wet during the night leaving the turf susceptible to fungus diseases. So early morning is your best option to water your lawn.
Train the roots to grow deep. You’re the boss. You’ll be glad, especially if a water ban is imposed, and you’re lawn is the only green one in the neighborhood.
But most important reason you water lawns correctly is because it’s the responsible thing to do.