Knowing When To Water Your Lawn
The best time of day to water isearly morning. When the sun is low in the sky, there will be less evaporation, giving the water a chance to seep down into the root zone. The grass blades will have all day to dry out before nightfall. The longer grass blades stay wet, the greater the chance they can succumb to fungal diseases.
Artificial irrigation should be used only to supplement rainfall. Do not water your lawn if rain is coming, it is currently raining, or it has just rained.
You will not have to supply the same amount of artificial irrigation year-round. Grass needs that one inch of water per week when the weather is hot, and/or the grass is actively growing.
So, for example, for a cool-season grass in the Northeast, you will be watering most in late spring, in summer, and in early fall. However, do continue to water throughout fall to make up for the fact that your grass will largely be deprived of water during the winter.
Home Lawn Watering Guide
Reviewed by Brad S. FresenburgDivision of Plant Sciences
As much as 80 percent of the water used around the home during summer is used outside. Watering the lawn is the main outside water use. During dry summers, local water authorities may cut off water for outside use or only allow watering on certain days. Both measures are necessary and effective means of reducing water use and relieving the strain on city water supplies.
To avoid severe loss of turfgrass and to conserve water, homeowners should manage their lawns each year in anticipation of water restrictions.
This guide describes that will reduce the need for irrigation while improving the competitiveness and appearance of your lawn.
Local & Seasonal Weather
Weather obviously plays a large role in how often to water your lawn. Whether it is hot and sunny, rainy, or cold will dictate the needs of your grass. Most lawns do best with about one inch of water per week, however this may be a bit different if you are in a particularly hot and dry climate or if youre experiencing a lot of rain already.
Grasses can also become dormant under certain conditions. Dormancy is when the grass basically falls asleep it is not dead grass despite the misconception due to its brown colour or a duller shade of green. In temperatures below 40 degrees or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, grass can become dormant and stop growing. In these kinds of temperatures, it may not serve much purpose to water a lawn until it warms up or cools down.
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How Much To Water Your Lawn
Watering the proper amount is criticaloverdo it, and your grass, your water bill, and the environment will suffer. The amount of water you need is generally 1 to 1.5 inches per week, but it can vary depending on your grass type, the climate you live in, your soil type, and the age of your lawn.
In general, you want the top 6-8 inches of soil to be moist, but not soggywhich translates to 1 to 1.5 inches per week. Watering deeply, but infrequently, leads to stronger root development and drought-resistance than watering briefly every day. You can break up these waterings into twice a week during most of the year, or three times a week during the hot summer months.
Newly Seeded or Sodded Lawns
To encourage proper growth, newly seeded or sodded lawns need moisture in the top inch of their soil, but not so much that they turn soggy. Instead of watering a few times a week, you will need to take a mister and gently spray the newly seeded areas once to two times a day, depending on the weather.
As the seeds germinate, keep the top 2 inches of soil moist. Once the grass grows to a 3-inch mowing height, you can reduce watering to twice a week. Then, you should soak the soil down 6-8 inches, like you would an established lawn.
How Much Water To Use
When watering an established lawn, its typically recommended to water until the top 6 to 8 inches of soil is wet. Most lawns need 1 to 1.5 inches of water per weekeither from rain or wateringto soak the soil that deeply. That amount of water can either be applied during a single watering or divided into two waterings during the week. Just be sure not to overwater your lawn.
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Watering Cool Vs Warm Season Grasses
You need to care for different grass types in different ways to keep them at their healthiest and hardiest.
Cool Season Grasses
These types of grasses, like fescue, rye, and bluegrass, grow actively in the fall. Theyll need about 1-1.5 inches every week until the growing season ends, roughly when the first frost sets in. If you dont water cool season grasses during a drought, they will go dormant but re-green when it starts raining again.
Warm Season Grasses
Warm season grasses, including bermuda, St. Augustine, zoysia, and centipede grass, do most of their growing in the summertime. Overall, they require less water than cool season grasses, but even they need extra water in the dead heat.
Other Watering Guidelines To Consider:
- Proper watering is critical to your lawns health and vigor. Deep and infrequent watering is the best practice. During the hotter months of the year, the lawn will require more water, so that may mean ¾ of irrigation at a time rather than the ½ of irrigation typically required in the cooler months. This means wetting the soil to a depth of 4-6 inches per irrigation.
- Water at times of low wind.
- Water during the very early morning rather than in the afternoon or evening to minimize the risk for disease.
- To reduce water runoff and to help water penetrate and soak deeply into the soil, we recommend a Cycle and Soak watering schedule. Instead of watering for a long period of time and allowing the water to run off into the street, divide the total watering time per zone by 3. Water 3 shorter intervals . For example at 3am, 4am, and 5am, before winds pick up. Each cycle, water for 15 minutes for rotor heads, 8 minutes for stationary pop-ups, and 30 minutes for low volume MP Rotator heads. Water less in shaded or poorly drained areas.
- Do not water every day or two. Frequent, short watering encourages shallow roots, unhealthy grass, plants, and leaves turf susceptible to drought, weeds, and disease.
- Water newer trees using soaker hoses or direct hose drips once every couple of weeks.
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Final Thoughts On Making It Work
Cut your grass at the highest recommended height for your grass. Taller grass shades and cools the ground, reducing moisture loss. In a drought, taller grass always stays greener longer than shorter grass. So cut bluegrass at 2 to 3 inches, tall fescue at 3 inches, perennial ryegrass at 2 inches, Bermuda at 1 1/2 to 2 inches, centipede at 2 inches, St. Augustine at 3 to 4 inches, and zoysia at 2 inches.
If you don’t have in-ground sprinklers, don’t get them. People with sprinkler systems always use more water because watering is so easy. You don’t have to drag hoses. You just set the timer and forget it.
Just look at the Atlanta metro area to see the consequence of sprinkler systems gone wild. For 10 years, practically every house built came with lawn sprinklers. No one really thought about how much water they’d need. Then Atlanta had a terrible drought, and its principal water supply, Lake Lanier, nearly dried up. They had to ban all outside watering, unless you carried gray water outside. Water-guzzling lawns dried up and died.
Make some changes, see your results grow. Water grass wisely, responsibly, and efficiently during hot days, and you may just be delighted by a healthier and happier lawn while enjoying that lower water bill.
Start By Learning How Much Water Your Sprinkler Puts Out
The first step to knowing how long to run your sprinklers is finding out how much water your sprinklers are distributing.
That is known as the water flow. One great way to measure your sprinklers water flow is by placing shallow containers all over your lawn. A rain gauge is best, but honestly any empty piece of Tupperware will give you a sense for what youre working with.
Be sure that they are evenly space in each section of grass that you want touched by your sprinkler.
After your containers are evenly placed about your lawn, turn your sprinklers on for 15 minutes. Running your sprinklers for 15 minutes gives your sprinklers enough time to cover your entire lawn at least three times. This will give you enough water in each container to understand how much water your sprinklers are putting out.
After the 15 minutes are over, take a ruler and place it in each container. From there, calculate the average amount of water collected in each container and multiply that by four. This will tell you how much water your sprinklers are putting out per hour.
So, now that you know how much water your sprinklers are putting out, you are probably wondering what to do with that information. Read on!
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How Can You Tell If Youve Watered Your Lawn Enough
The average lawn needs at least 1 inch of water to 1.5 inches of water per week. This should be continued throughout the year. Even lawns in winter need water as you cant always guarantee that the rainy weather will give them enough.
To be able to figure out if it has enough water, you should get a rain gauge. This will show you just how much water the grass is getting. If using a sprinkler system, make sure that the water from the sprinkler is going into the rain gauge. This will allow you to measure the amount of water that the grass is getting.
No Need To Wet Your Plants
At the end of the day, under-watering your lawn is actually less harmful than over-watering. Most grass types are quite resilient to under-watering.
Your grass will certainly let you know when it needs watering if its been too long.
The results from watering when your grass has turned dull green or even brown are quite quick, versus the length of time it can take to fully treat rot or disease in an over-watered lawn.
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How Much Water Does My Lawn Need
One of the most common questions when it comes to lawn watering is, How much water does my lawn need? On average, lawns need about 1-1.5 inches of water per week, including rainfall.
To determine how many inches of rainfall your lawn receives each week, use a rain gauge. This inexpensive tool can be found at most garden centers and home improvement stores. Place a rain gauge in your lawn and after rainfall, observe how much water has accumulated. Once you have an idea of how much rain your lawn is getting, you can decide if you need to increase or decrease your watering schedule accordingly.
Watering Lawns In Hot & Dry Seasons
In hot and dry weather, a lawn may be best served with more frequent waterings. Above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, grass will often fall dormant anyways. You might be able to prevent that if you can keep your turf cool with sprinklers a few times a week. If your grass is browning, dont worry. Your grass is not dead and should turn right back to green when it cools down after watering.
No matter the season, it is best to water in the morning before 10am to ensure that your lawn has enough time to absorb that moisture without the sun and heat evaporating it. Alternatively, but still less ideal, watering at dusk is another option that allows the moisture to soak in without lingering too long and potentially allowing mold to grow and kill your lawn.
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What To Do When There Are Restrictions On Water Usage
If you live in a region where there are water restrictions, consider planting drought-resistant grass types that require less watering. Choose to alter your irrigation schedule so your grass gets used to infrequent watering, and can better tough things out. You can help your lawn adjust by changing the watering schedule gradually over a couple of weeks. During hotter weather or in more arid conditions, keep grass blades high to increase shade and encourage deeper root systems. Avoid fertilization, which readily depletes water and promotes stress.
Maximize The Benefits Of Proper Lawn Watering
No one wants to waste money on something they think is helping their lawn. Watering is one of those things. The right lawn watering tips can make all the difference in the look and health of your Maryland yard. Of course watering is only one element of a great lawn. Proper mowing, adequate fertilization and insect and disease prevention and care, as well as aeration and overseeding are the other key elements in your total lawn maintenance playbook. Confused or worried that your lawn might be lacking some care or that you dont know where to start? We get it. Lawn care can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task, especially when youre busy with other things. But dont worry. The right lawn care service partner can educate you on the basics and make you feel comfortable so you know how the process works and how to easily strategize a lawn maintenance plan so you dont miss anything during the growing season. Then you can maximize that summer chill time outdoors without stressing about what your lawn might be lacking. Want to rev up your lawns health and maximize your dollars and overall happiness? Natural Green can help. We provide lawn care services in Central and Southern Maryland. Get started today with a free quote. Together, well customize a plan that makes your lawn look like the star of the block.
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Learn To Read A Lawn And Know When To Water
Turfgrass water-use rates are high during sunny and windy days with low relative humidity. In situations where lawns are not watered and rainfall is limited, grasses first show symptoms of wilt and later turn completely brown.
Signs that a lawn should be thoroughly watered for grasses to remain green and actively growing
What Time Should I Water My Lawn
Timing your watering properly, for any plant, is very important. If you leave standing water on leaves during times when it cant evaporate, for example, this can invite fungal disease and other plant problems. On the other hand, if you water when evaporation is high, the water you apply might not even make it to the roots of the plants, and then you have an equally serious issue.
For most grasses, in most areas, there are two ideal windows in which to water: from about 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and again between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.. You should only be watering once or twice a week in the spring and fall, so choose one of those windows for your irrigation system to do its thing.
The 9 a.m. window is great because you can feel very confident that all of the water on your grass blades will have evaporated before dark, and winds tend to be lower in the morning for many areas. By the time the wind picks up in windy areas, the water has already soaked into the ground, so your grass is pretty set.
The nighttime window also has benefits. Since most fungal diseases of plants dont pose a significant risk unless the water is standing on plant leaves for 14 hours, even watering at 10 p.m. gives ample time for the grass to dry. This window also corresponds with natural dew cycles, and, frankly, is pretty convenient if you tend to be outside during the day, since your sprinkler can then take the night shift.
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Use The Right Spreader
When applying lawn fertilizers, always use a lawn spreader. Never spread product by hand! A broadcast spreader with a side-shield feature like the EdgeGuard® feature is great for most lawns. This makes application along the lawn’s perimeter easy by shutting off half the spreader flow, so product is only applied on the lawn and not on non-lawn areas like the driveway, sidewalk, or landscaping. A drop spreader is another option for small spaces because the application area is much narrower. Learn more about which spreader is right your yard .
Fill the spreader hopper with your lawn fertilizer, then set the spreader to the recommended setting listed on the product package. If the product package does not provide a spreader setting, it is not intended for lawn use.
When Your Lawn Is A High Traffic Area
If your children use your lawn for playing or your dog running around, you should make sure to water it regularly.
It may just be that there is lots of traffic with people just walking on the lawn. However, this will stress the grass, and it will need more water than usual. This is especially true in the hotter dry months when the grass of your lawn is more dormant.
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Watering The Wrong Amount
While overwatering is a common mistake, it happens to be one of the most detrimental. Unless watering newly planted grass seed, dont water every day.
Frequent, shallow watering wastes water and money. It also leads to a number of lawn problems, including diseases, insect infestations and damage from heat and cold. On the other hand, watering longer but less frequently, deep watering, produces deep roots that mean lawns can better survive periods of drought. The ideal watering schedule is once or twice per week, for about 25 to 30 minutes each time.
Taking care of a lawn doesnt have to be an overwhelming, all-consuming task. Once all the tips and tricks are in your back pocket, it will be easy to come up with a routine that results in a gorgeous green lawn.