Your lawn is the centerpiece of your home's landscape. A healthy, vibrant lawn is one of the most attractive additions to a home, and watering your grass in the proper manner will make a huge difference in its overall health. Picking the best time for lawn watering is just part of the equation. Here's a quick guide to help you water like a pro.
Some General Observations About Lawn Watering
Water is important to the health of grass roots, but efficient watering is even more crucial. By efficient we mean watering in the proper amount at the proper time. As you might imagine, there are more than a few variables that will determine what is right for your lawn grass.
The overall climate and environment that you live in is a big factor. Dry climates require more frequent watering and more general attention. If you happen to be one of those homeowners who lives in an area with a nice average rainfall, count your blessings. Mother Nature will handle a lot of the work for you, keeping your grass blades and grass roots wet. Finally, areas that are wet year-round also demand special watering methods.
The type of soil that you have also affects watering. Clay soil is a good retainer, and you'll need fewer watering sessions. That doesn't mean less water, though. Clay requires more saturation. In sand or loam you will find that water is easy to apply but the retention quality drops.
The same can also be said for types of grass. Lawn grass comes in many different varieties, and each of them can have their own special watering requirements.
Above all else, you should remember that we are living in a world where water is in increasingly short supply. Many areas are in a legitimate water crisis. You may even be in a location where watering is restricted.
All of these things have to be considered as you go about developing your proactive grass watering plan.
How Often Should You Water Your Lawn?
The experts in lawn watering have established effective guidelines for watering. As a general rule, you want to water enough that you are able to deliver about 6" of penetration to the soil.
If you water too shallow, the root system of your lawn can become weak. You need to make sure you are keeping moisture at the proper depth of 6". Depending on the type of soil that you have, this can mean watering every other day or a couple of times per week.
A garden spade can be used to determine how wet the soil is. You'll likely need to monitor this until you are able to determine how long it takes your lawn to absorb water. Once you know, make a schedule and stick to it.
How Long Should a Watering Session Last?
There are some simple methods that you can use to determine how long it takes to water to a 6" depth. One of these is to place cat food cans atop your lawn in the area that receives water from your sprinkler. You can add the amount of water in each can and divide by the total number of cans to determine how much water is being applied each half-hour.
You may also want to try other methods of watering that involve irrigation hoses as opposed to a sprinkler. The key is to get a feel for how long it takes to get the proper penetration. As we will see, the time of day that you water can also have an impact on how long you need to apply water to your lawn.
When Should You Be Watering Grass?
The best schedule of water for most areas seems to be once every five to eight days. You should try to vary the schedule a little bit to account for things like rainfall. Getting help from the environment is a blessing. Don't take it for granted, and conserve water.
When it comes to a precise time for watering, early morning is always the best. There is little wind in the morning hours, and the temperatures are lower. If you water in the heat of the day, you are going to be losing too much water to evaporation. When you water at night, the water can stand too long and encourage disease.
Is there really a bad time to water your lawn? Yes. Watering should never be done when the lawn is saturated, and you should also use care if there are drainage issues. It is also a bad time to water when doing so puts you in violation of any local watering ordinances.
Cool Season vs. Warm Season Grass Watering
We would be remiss if we did not end this article with a discussion of grass types and how different grass varieties can present unique watering needs.
Some grasses grow actively in the fall when other grass varieties grow dormant. These species can include rye and bluegrass. There is nothing more satisfying than beautiful cool-season grasses, but keeping them healthy means making some adjustments. There is less evaporation when the temperatures grow colder, but you should still plan on watering to a depth of 1.5" each week. Once the first frost appears, you can cut back and eventually cease watering as the grass enters its period of winter rest.
In warmer climates, the growing season for grass tends to be longer. You could easily be watering your bermuda and zoysia until the middle of autumn. The grass in warmer climates will continue to grow and require mowing until consistent cold temperatures arrive. Maintain your normal routine until you see the growth diminish, and then taper off.
Landscaping is an art that requires planning and care for the best results. You will find that the time you invest in learning more about proper watering is always repaid with a healthy lawn.
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