Misconception #: The Worst Thing I Can Do Is Under
We hear a lot of concerns about under-watering, but the truth is that overwatering can be just as badmaybe even worse. When soil becomes oversaturated, it can become waterlogged and you can actually drown your grass roots. An overwatered lawn is also more prone to lawn diseases.
Lawns need approximately 1 to 2 inches of water each week in order to stay healthy and green. The best way for lawns to receive that water is through a slow and soaking rain . Just be careful not to assume a downpour has given you ample water. Stick a finger down into the first few inches of soil and get a sense of how moist it is.
We also recommend putting a rain gauge outdoors to measure rainfall. When you do need to water, place a shallow can halfway between your sprinkler head and its furthest point of spray. This will help you tell how much water your lawn is receiving during your supplemental watering sessions. You dont need to be watering your lawn every day, but instead just need to ensure that its getting its weekly 1 to 2 inches of water with about 2-3 waterings per week.
Healthy Yard And Environment Tip: April
Don’t start watering too early
Delay watering your lawn in April and May.
- Mother Nature tends to provide enough free irrigation throughout the spring.
- Waiting to water encourages grass roots to grow deeper, creating a more drought resistant, healthy lawn.
- If you must water, adjust sprinklers to eliminate runoff into the storm drains.
More Watering Tips:
- Water in the Morning
If you are going to water, the best time to do so is in early morning between 4 and 10 a.m. At this time of day, water pressure is better, winds are milder, and more water will make it to the soil instead of evaporating.
- Water Deeply
When summer arrives, water deep and infrequently. Cool season lawns like Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue need about 1 to 1 ½ inches of water per week. Use a screwdriver or probe to test your lawn. If it goes in easily to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, there is plenty of moisture in the soil. If its a struggle to push it in, you probably need to give your lawn more water.
- Water Only the Grass
Adjust your sprinklers so they are only watering the lawn, not the pavement. Not only will this prevent water from being wasted, but prevent fertilizers and other chemicals from flowing into the stormwater system, which does not get treated before heading to streams and lakes.
- Try a Rain Barrel
- Help do your part: Hold off watering your lawn until summer.
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Watering At The Wrong Time
To water well, timing is everything. Water in the early morning between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Midday watering leads to wasteful evaporation, while nighttime watering causes droplets to cling to grass overnight, increasing the chance of lawn diseases.
A Dual Outlet Electronic Water Timer will prove handy for those mornings you are away or want to sleep in. Just program the start time, frequency and duration of watering, and let the timer take care of the rest. The dual outlets make it easy to hook up two hoses at once and program separate schedules for different parts of the yard. We suggest attaching a Flexogen Super Duty Hose, as it easily curves around the yard without kinking and connects to a spigot without leaking saving water and money.
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Prepare For A Drought
Management practices in the fall and spring determine the drought tolerance of the lawn in summer. To reduce the need for irrigation, your lawn management program should maximize root volume and depth in preparation for summer drought. By the time summer arrives, you can do little to help a lawn except mow and irrigate properly.
The following lawn-care tips will help reduce the need for irrigation and increase the chance of surviving summer drought.
Grass Type Dictates Water Needs
Grass type affects the amount of water required for a healthy lawn, confirms Missouri Botanical Garden experts. In the order of water requirements: bermudagrass and zoysia demand less water than tall fescue, bluegrass, ryegrass and bentgrass.
Where water conservation is a primary concern, warm season grasses tolerate low water supplies the best.
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How To Care For Spring Lawns
With a few spring lawn care tips, you can have the yard youve always dreamed of.
Watering Dont be tempted to water your lawn in early spring. Wait until the grass shows signs of wilt, which may not happen until late spring or early summer or maybe even later. Watering too early only encourages shallow root growth, which will be unable to withstand hot, dry summer weather and may result in a brown, dry lawn by picnic season. When you start watering, water deeply then let the grass wilt slightly before watering again. Typically, about an inch of water per week is enough.
Fertilizing Similarly, spring isnt a good time for fertilizing the lawn because the tender, new growth is likely to be scorched when the weather turns hot in summer. This is especially important if you live in a climate affected by drought. If your lawn isnt healthy, you can apply a light application of a balanced slow-released lawn fertilizer, but withhold heavier fertilization until autumn. The exception is if your lawn consists of St. Augustine or another warm season grass. If this is the case, fertilize as soon as the grass greens up and shows active growth in mid to late spring.
Aerating If your lawn needs aeration, which involves poking small holes in the lawn so water, nutrients, and air can reach the roots, midspring is a good time. However, wait until fall to remove thatch.
Avoid Watering Straight From The Hose
Watering straight from the hose risks running up your water bill, and potentially introducing disease to your lawn as bacteria and fungi is occasionally found in the hose. Using a controlled nozzle or a sprinkler will avoid excess use of water, distribute water evenly and even filter out certain bacteria and fungi.
Now that we have gone over all the things you need to know to take care of the watering this season, let us take care of the weed-control, fertilization and aeration part of your lawn. Each component is essential in ensuring that your lawn is beautiful, thick, healthy and weed-free … all season lawn.
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Consider How Grass Grows
Grass needs to keep green all the time. The implication is that once you start with your watering process, you will need to keep up on a daily basis if there is no natural precipitation to help you out. Therefore, watering is a commitment you must prepare for before deciding to do it. Grass grows fast hence it will need mowing, which will also change the watering needs. You also expect the medium used to plant the grass to affect water retention capabilities and this, in turn, influences the correct timing for the watering activities.
Watering And Types Of Soil
Soil texture changes how much moisture the soil can retain and for how long. This affects how long it takes to moisten roots, and how quickly the soils will dry out again.
Checking soil moisture with a soil moisture meter both before and after watering is the best indicator of adequate watering.
Amend your soils with compost to improve soil texture and health. See our free Green Cart compost pickup dates.
Increase the amount of top soil where ever possible. Having a minimum of eight inches of top soil will improve water absorption and drainage of your soil.
Visit Top Soil Calculator to determine how much soil you need for a project.
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Signs That Lawns Should Be Watered
- Grass blades turn deeper green or bluish-purple in color, indicating plant wilt.
- After walking in your yard, footprints remain visible there for several hours. Healthy grass leaves spring back up. They return to their upright shape fairly quickly, but leaves lacking water remain trampled-looking for a good while.
- Grass leaves are folded or rolled lengthwise along the blade, giving them a dull look.
- If high temperatures and dry conditions continue without rain or irrigation, the above ground grass portions will turn entirely brown. This condition indicates the lawn has gone dormant. Thorough watering can bring lawns out of dormancy, with new growth resuming from the crown of the grass plants.
- Although grasses are dormant, watering restrictions for extended dry periods cause ground cracks, severe soil-drying and excessive loss of turf grass. Even after resuming watering later in the summer or early fall, some portions of the lawn may not return.
When To Stop Watering Lawn Grass For Winter
Should I water grass in winter? Temperatures matter. To get a good idea of whats happening under your grass, youll need to monitor the weather. The length of time that the air is cold is a determining factor. The longer a cold spell endures, the more time the ground has to freeze.
So, do you water grass in the winter? If its a cold winter, no. If its mild, then you can keep at it depending on the rainfall in your region.
Anticipate needing to water your lawn during the fall to keep your grass healthy and prepared for the long-term. But remember, youll be watering in vain if youre doing so when the moisture is high and when the lows have been at or below freezing for an extended time.
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Watering Different Lawn Types
How long to water lawn varieties and how to care for the different types will depend on several factors, including the season, the zone you are in and most importantly the type of grass you are growing. Different lawn types will have different watering and overall care needs, so it is important to pay attention to the type of lawn that is growing. Once you know how much to water a specific lawn type, it is easy to set a schedule that will give thirsty lawns the perfect amount of water all season long.
Warm-Season Grasses Warm-season grasses such as zoysia and bermuda grass grow best when the air temperature is above 80 degrees. They slow down when daytime temperatures start to drop, but they still need moisture to remain healthy. Continue to water them as long as the grass is growing and needs regular mowing. Fall is not the time to fertilize warm-season lawns. Wait until spring, when the active growing season begins.
Cool Season Grasses Cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass, fescue and rye, are actively growing in the fall, recovering from summer dormancy. Cool fall temperatures keep evaporation rates low, but these grasses still need an inch to an inch and a half of water every week until frost ends the growing season. Cool-season grasses are also typically fertilized in the fall, and watering after fertilizing is important to wash the fertilizer off the blades of grass and down into the soil.
Consider Installing A Rain Detector And Automatic Sprinkler System
In Calgary, average water bills increase as much as 30-40% during the spring and summer months due to lawn watering. It may be worth your time to invest in an automatic sprinkler system and a rain detector.
An automatic sprinkler system can be set up to the precise amount of water and frequency of watering for your lawn, and will automatically turn on and off. Coupled with this is often rain detectors, that will shut off the sprinkler system and adjust for the rain collected during the rain fall.
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Find An Ifa Country Store Near You
Information for this article was provided by Aaron Jaussi, Branch Manager, Provo IFA Country Store Tina Potter, Utah Certified Nurseryman, Washington State Certified Nursery Professional , & Lawn & Garden Dept., Ogden IFA Country Store and Ken Holt, Lawn & Garden Category Manager, IFA Country Store
Consider Your Soil Type
If youre watering your lawn every three days for 30 minutes at a time and still not seeing results, the lawns soil may be to blame.
Lawns with coarse, sandy soil have large air spaces that let water pass quickly and should be watered more frequently for shorter durations. Heavier clay soils have smaller spaces that absorb and hold water longer and need less frequent deep watering.
To help support troubled turf, apply IFA Humate twice a year. The organic materials in this soil-activating treatment significantly increase the water-retention capacity of both sandy and clay soil, while also improving fertilizer efficiency.
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Watch Out For Wet Wilt
- When we get a really rainy summer spell, or get concerned, sometimes we water lawns too much. So, the opposite of dry lawns can develop.
- Wet wilt occurs when yards are too wet. These soils are poor environments for healthy roots, because roots require oxygen to grow and function. Soils become saturated once all pore, or air spaces, are filled with water. If soils remain saturated for too long, roots rot and die. Low functioning or rotting roots cannot replace moisture as rapidly as plants lose it, especially during hot or windy weather.
- The curling of leaves from wet wilt looks much like wilt caused by lack of soil moisture.
- Waterlogged lawns with shallow root systems are susceptible to wet wilt on hot days when plant transpiration rates are higher. Dont add more water when lawns are wilting and soil moisture appears to be adequate.
Why Is It Bad To Water Grass At Night
While watering during the day causes water to evaporate too quickly, watering in the evening allows water to cling to the grass for too long. Overnight, the water will continue to rest in the soil, around the roots, and on top the foliage, which will encourage it to rot, develop fungus, and attract insects.
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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.
When Should I Start Watering My Yard
The recent weather in Colorado Springs makes it seem that spring has arrived. You may be wondering if you should be watering your yard. In fact, it IS important to water your lawn, plants, and trees during the winter months and this is especially important when there has not been much snow. Even in their dormant state, grasses, plants and trees and their root systems need some moisture during the winter to return strong and healthy during the growing season. Additionally, in March and April, your plants and trees are developing new roots, so it is critical to ensure they are getting the proper hydration before spring and summer come.
The current warm weather makes it perfect to water your lawn, as the water is unlikely to freeze . The best time to water your yard is early to mid day, when the temperature of the air and ground will be above 40 degrees, with no snow cover. This will also allow plenty of time for the water to soak in before it has the potential of freezing over night. Remember, the point of winter watering is to make certain the roots are receiving the proper hydration. Because temperatures are still dropping below freezing almost every night it is important to not turn your irrigation system on yet. This will prevent any freeze damage happening to your pipes.
Winter watering doesnt have to consume a lot of time, but it is important to keep your yard thriving through the spring and summer.
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When Should I Water My Lawn
The best time of day to water is in the early morning. Watering during the heat of the day will not burn your lawn. It may not be very efficient to water at that time of day, but it is a good deal better than watering in the early evening or at night. Watering your lawn at that time can lead to an increase in disease development.
The final point on watering is to be consistent with your watering or let your lawn go dormant. Most grasses can survive with as little as 1 inch of water per month. Some warm season grasses can survive an entire summer without any water. They may not look that good, but they will still be alive.
Get more expert lawn care tips on Spring-Green.com.