Some lawns seem to take care of themselves by running on a timer and spraying sprinkler water all over the place, keeping the grass hydrated and green. Based on the temporary puddle of runoff common after a lawn watering, it seems like these systems are active every day. If commercial properties are apparently watering grass every day, should the home lawn owner do the same?
Contrary to what it seems, there is a good chance that the ground sprinklers though active every day, are watering different parts of the lawn even if the runoff accumulates in the same space. Shade, turf type, and lawn additions like trees and landscaping features can all dictate how much water an area of grass needs, as well as the square footage of roots that need a drink. Find out more about grass’s watering schedule and why you shouldn’t water every day.
Do I Water My Lawn Every Day?
It is not a great idea to water your lawn every day for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, it will probably drown your grass roots and lead to dead grass. Regardless of what the grass blades are showing, underwatering is unlikely to be a problem since most turfs are somewhat drought-tolerant. Keeping track of how much water per week your lawn receives is the first step to dialing your watering system for a green and healthy lawn.
How Much Water
1 or 2 inches of water a week on average is a good starting point. This may not be enough to keep some turfs green during high temperatures and drought conditions, but it is enough to keep pretty much any turf alive during most harsh weather conditions. A good indicator of how much water your lawn has absorbed is to stick your finger into the top couple of inches of soil. If it is wet, you will not need to water it that day.
1/2 an inch to 1 inch of water every irrigation is a good way to saturate the soil when it has had a prolonged drought as too much water too fast will run off and cause erosion and not get absorbed. In hot climates during high temperatures or with strong wind and no shade or plant shelter for vulnerable grass.
On lawns with trees and ornamental plants because more water is stored in the soil, which is available to the entire lawn. Based on your soil type, you may need to increase the time to water in poor soil to get all deeper soil moist. Watering at the wrong time, like in the middle of the day, can lead to evaporation or water before it has time to get past the blades of grass.
If it is rainy or cooler you can water cool-season grasses far less than during the hot summer temperatures. Some grasses just need 1 or 2 waterings per week during the summer and go weeks without water in the cooler winter season. Finding the ideal times for your turf will save you water and keep your lawn healthy.
I aim to water every 3 days at a rate of about an inch during times of the year when irrigation is needed. In humid conditions, grass with deeper roots and drought-tolerant grass types may need much less water, especially on hilly and shady terrain. Based on the weather, climate, and time of year, you will need to adjust ground sprinkler systems to come on less and stay on for a shorter time.
It is important to have an irrigation system that accounts for the chance of rainfall and has rain gauges to prevent over-watering lawns. Most sprinkler systems work quickly, only staying on for 15 mins or so, and in that time, many gallons per minute are blasted out. Ground that is full of water will have runoff and may lead to shallow root systems. Sparse watering during warm months stimulates deep roots and allows grass to get oxygen back into the soil between watering days.
Lawns with excellent drainage can take much more water than ones with compacted or heavy clay soils. This is the first thing to consider when selecting lawn types, as more lawn care is needed to water these types of yards. A yellow lawn might be dormant, not dying or overwatered, and underwatering can look like overwatering at first, making it hard to know by blade tips what’s going on beneath the soil.
If it has been a dry spell and you want to make sure your grass is just a dry lawn and not a dead lawn, then check nutrient levels and soil temperatures with the tug test, then complete the rest of the tips below.
|Dig up a small plug of roots and topsoil to see the condition of the soil
|Lets you see and feel very clearly what the needs of the root system of your established lawn need to be a healthy lawn
|Change the time of day and the amount of time you water each week if that is an issue or the seasons have changed
|Hose-end sprinklers and traditional sprinklers can be optimized to have the right sprinkler flow rate to water the lawn but not the sidewalk and road around them
|Water in the Morning
|Set sprinklers early in the day to water lawns and prevent the hot noon sun from burning up the irrigation before it is absorbed by the soil
|More water goes into the soil where deep roots can use it or store it for future use without surface loss or wet conditions on grass blades
|Don’t Water while Raining
|A hydrated yard will shed water, so turn off or set up sprinklers to not activate when the rain gauge and moisture levels are high
|Saves water and prevents runoff, erosion, and waterlogged roots that could lead to dead or diseased turf
|Dethatch and Aerate
|Rake dead grass clippings and lawn debris and pull core plugs to increase the permeability of the soil
|Allows significantly more water to enter the soil and be stored in subsurface aquifers while promoting a healthy and green lawn
|Add Organic Matter
|Top dress compacted or poor fertility spots in your lawn with sand and compost to improve water retention and make it easier for grass to grow and spread
|New soil adds nutrients and water storage capacities without destroying existing turf and roots like tilling do
How to Water More Efficiently
If you are still watering with a hose, the first thing you should do is switch to drip irrigation and sprinkler systems. If you have automated systems, they can be adjusted to water at the right time of day, the right amount per season and can even switch off when there is expected precipitation.
Adding rain chains and dry creeks to your lawn will not only make it more attractive but can also help you utilize rainfall better all year round and reduce your dependence on municipal water for lawn irrigation.
Should I Water After Rain?
It is not a good idea to water right after rain as the grass needs time to absorb the previous water for it to help the roots in the ground. The longer it has been since it rained, the harder it is for the ground to absorb water unless it has been prepared for rainfall. Rain may runoff if the soil is saturated, which will waste water as well as cause erosion if the storm is heavy enough. This much water can lead to water-logged soil that will become prone to other dangers.
Dangers of Overwatering
If your sprinkle comes on when it rains and you are unaware of it, then it is possible your lawn will become too wet. In the spring, when the grass needs less irrigation in rainy climates, continued watering from both sources will create bad issues. Fungus thrives in wet conditions, and most of the ones that like swampy spots will not help your turf. Weeds, odors, pests, and of course, dead grass will all end up plaguing an overwatered lawn.
Don’t water your grass every day, and let your lawn dry out between irrigation days, and you won’t have to worry about any of these problems.