Top Tips To Water Your Lawn
Last week, as I drove down the street on my way home from work, I noticed several nice and soft looking green lawns. When I arrived at my home, I noticed that my lawn was still green, but had that slightly dry, bluish-green, crunchy appearance. I knew that if walked on the lawn barefoot, I would feel the prickly blades of grass poke the bottom of my feet. The lawn was thirsty and was begging me to give it some water, so I set the irrigation timer to begin watering early the next morning.
When your lawn has that slightly dry, bluish-green, crunchy appearance, it is time to make sure it gets some water. Here are three simple tips to ensure the time and money you spend watering your lawn are efficient and effective.
1. Water Deep
The first tip for watering your lawn is to apply water long enough to get the soil wet. Ideally, you want to get moisture to penetrate the soil about six inches deep. By getting that much water in the soil, you will promote the growth of roots deeper into the soil. Having deep roots will allow your lawn to be more drought-resistant and the lawn will require less water in the long run.
This is because the top inch of soil dries out first, while the deeper soil remains wet for a much longer period. The deeper roots can continue to get water from that deeper soil. If the lawn’s root system is shallow, then as soon as that top inch of soil dries out, the lawn will be under drought stress and will need more water.
There is an easy way to test how deep the moisture has penetrated the grass. Immediately after watering, you push a 6 or 8 inch long screwdriver into the ground. It will move easily through the wet soil and be more difficult to push into dry soil. You stop pushing when it becomes more difficult. Make note of how much of the screwdriver was in the ground and that will give you the depth of the moisture.
2. Water Infrequently
Closely related to watering deep is to water infrequently. Lawns don’t need water every day, or even every other day. In fact, daily watering can actually damage a lawn by encouraging the growth and spread of fungus and molds across the frequently moist grass and soil surface.
Lawns need an inch of water about twice a week, including rainfall. You can monitor the amount of rain your area receives, and adjust accordingly. The amount of time between waterings will vary depending on temperature, humidity, and wind. Another, more environmentally friendly strategy is to focus your attention on the condition of the grass blades. When the lawn needs water, the grass blades will take on a bluish-gray tint and when you walk across the grass, it will not bounce back quickly leaving a trail of footprints. If you see these signs over 20 to 30% or more of your lawn, it needs water.
3. Water in the Morning
The best time to water your lawn is in the morning. Specifically, between 4:00 AM and 9:00 AM when the air is coolest and the wind is usually calm. Anytime you use sprinklers, some of the water will evaporate before hitting the ground. By watering your lawn early you reduce the amount evaporation due to heat and wind.
Watering your lawn in the morning also helps prevent mold and fungus from growing in your lawn. Any water that doesn’t soak in to the soil will evaporate and leave less opportunity for fungus and mold growth. Watering your lawn in the evening may be convenient, but allowing the grass and soil to remain wet overnight provides extra opportunity for the fungus and mold.
If you don’t want to wake early to start the sprinklers and do not already have a timer on your sprinkler system, you can purchase watering timers that will start up the sprinklers at a time you choose. There are single hose watering timers and multiple hose watering timers available, so with a single timer, a few hoses and sprinklers, you can water a large area of your lawn while you are still sleeping.
Save Money and Water
When a lawn is watered deeply and only when it is needed, the lawn will become stronger and you can water your lawn less and less, and the lawn will only need water after five to seven days without rain. Using less water on your lawn, will reduce your water bill and conserve water for other uses.