Watering grass properly and consistently is one of the most important maintenance practices in taking care of your lawn, but it doesn’t have to break the bank! Here are some tips to help you get the lush, beautiful lawn we all want.
Water Long and Deep, but Not Often
The key to properly watering lawns is to make sure you apply enough water to drench the soil six to eight inches deep. Rather than dig a hole after each watering to check this, it is recommended that you water until you get 1 inch of water down on the lawn. Depending on your irrigation system and water pressure, this could take an hour or more per area. Sunny spots will need more water than shady ones.
- For warm season grasses, including Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass, twice a week is usually enough. Cool season grasses, including Fescue, will most likely need additional irrigation when the temperatures start to approach ninety degrees (2-3 times per week). This “long and deep, but not often” approach encourages the roots to reach far down into the soil and makes your turf stronger and more beautiful.
- Avoid watering grass during the heat of the day, as much of the water will evaporate before reaching into the ground. Water between 10 PM and 10 AM for best results.
- If there is turf on a hill, or if the ground is hard, you may want to break up your watering times (water for 20 minutes, let that soak in for 30-60 minutes and then water for another 20 minutes if you are looking for 40 minutes total.)
Using Your Installed Irrigation System
Many people do not realize that each irrigation system is different and each zone in each system is different! Large open areas of you lawn watered with rotor sprinklers will need to run much longer than smaller areas serviced by misting heads. The only way to know for sure is to measure the output for each zone. Over time, using 3-5 rain gauges, tuna or coffee cans, measure the output of each zone. Record how long it takes to achieve the recommended 1 inch of water in each zone on an index card and tape it to the inside of your controller panel. Do not be surprised if large areas take over an hour while smaller areas may need only 10-15 minutes.
Using Moveable Sprinklers
Watering lawns properly with sprinklers is best done by using a shut-off timer that attaches to your hose faucet. These are readily available and reasonably priced. They allow you to start your sprinkler, leave it running, and then it turns itself off! First determine how long you have to water to put down the 1 inch of water using rain gauges or empty cans. Then figure out how to divide your lawn into watering areas or “zones”. On Monday put your sprinkler in “zone one” and before you leave for work/when you get up, turn it on and set the timer. The timer turns the sprinkler off for you. The next morning move the sprinkler to “zone two”, and so on until the whole lawn is watered. You do not have to water the whole lawn the same day! While watering lawns in the early morning is best, if you need to double-up, you can start “zone one” before you go to bed, and then start “zone two” as you leave for work
Watering grass properly is great for your lawn and can actually save you money! Always be sure to follow your local watering restrictions and watch the grass to see what it tells you.