Want A Healthy Lawn? Water It Right

Most homeowners know grass takes upkeep and maintenance.  We need to cut it, weed it, and give it nutrients.  But watering the lawn – and if you do it the correct way – is more important to a green canopy than anything we just mentioned.

Lawns stay healthier with deep watering done on an infrequent basis. Frequent shallow watering can promote disease and ruin your lawn by not allowing your feeder roots to grow deeper into your soil.  Weeds thrive in constant, shallow watering environments. You’ll also see an increase in annoying thatch buildup. Deep watering of your grass builds resilient, deep-rooted lawns that survive difficult conditions better. Your grass will handle heat, drought, cold and insects with less stress if the roots can grow deeper.

Here are some tips for watering your lawn effectively:

Use A Sprinkler

A deep watering of your front and backyards can take well over an hour. Few people can spare the time to do that correctly. Get as many sprinklers as you need to cover all of your lawn. It’s best if you can have the same time of sprinkler model – this helps to avoid overwatering of a stretch vs other parts of your lawn simply because the water flows out at different rates.
Ideally you’d have enough to water in one shot – that way you’ll save yourself the hassle of moving sprinklers all over the yard. Tip: Use any connector with additional hoses to run more than one sprinkler at a time. The flow rate should not exceed the ability of your lawn to absorb the water. You want a sprinkler that delivers water uniformly, without puddles in close to the sprinkler.

Soak the soil down to a half a foot minimum. Typically, this will take about an inch of water, although very sandy soils may take a half an inch while a heavy clay mix can take upwards of 2 inches. You’ll need to experiment to see what works for you.

Get a Timer

If your soil is classified as “heavy clay”, you’ll probably need to apply water in shorter bursts. A 10-minute on ,10 minutes off schedule usually works to avoid run off and allow the water to soak into the grass and soil. It’s even worse if you have a lawn full of thick heavy thatch.
Sometimes a thatched lawn can only take in 5 minutes of water before beginning to runoff.
While you can run out and turn your outside spigot on and off all night, there is an easier solution. Buy a sprinkler timer and you can set it to intervals so the water has time to soak in fully.

Give Your Lawn Time To Dry

Let the grass full dry before watering it again. Remember – you just weaken your lawn’s health with constant watering . You can use a  screwdriver or a moisture meter to see if the soil has dried all the way down to a half a foot depth. Drying times are dependent on soil and the environment.  Heavy clay-dominated soil could take as long as three weeks to dry; sandy soils might take only a matter of days.  Don’t use a lawn mower during this time.

Important: New lawns and sod should be watered more frequently and for shorter times until the roots are well established. A new lawn in hot weather may need to be watered briefly three or four times a day

Many deep-rooted grass varieties like tall fescue and bermuda grass can be watered so that the ground is moist 12 inches down one day after watering. Wait until the soil is dry down to a foot before thoroughly watering again.  This will train your grass to root deeply, taking better advantage of deep rainfalls and stored water.

You need to know your average evapotranspiration (ET) figure for grass in your area for any particular month if you live in a arid climate.  Here’s one site with the data; you can search around for more.   If your rate is “.2,” that means your grass (in full sun) must receive .2 in. of rain or irrigation water per day (l .4 in. per week). Notice that the frequency of watering will still depend on how many inches of water your lawn can absorb at one time. Be aware that lawn ET rates are 20 to 40% less than the generic, base ET rates that are averaged out for all plants. The rates provided by Rain Master, for example, need to be multiplied by 75% to get reasonable grass numbers.

 

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