Believe it or not, there is a proper way to water your lawn. Many believe that if you simply hit the sprinklers or stand out on it with a hose and spray water upon it, it will grow and thrive. This article will hopefully clear up any misconceptions you may have about this, and provide some useful tips on how best to render a lawn that will end up being green, vivid, and robust.
1. Timing is Everything. Do you water in the daytime, in direct sunlight, or do you water in the late evening and early morning hours? The correct answer for those doing it right is in the late evening and early morning hours. Water drops on grass in direct sun magnifies the light and heat, which stresses, burns and dries out the blades of grass. Water will also evaporate quicker in the daytime hours. The best rule of thumb is: in humid climates, water between 10 PM and 6 AM; in hot, dry climates, right before sunrise, to minimize evaporation. For cool climates–anytime before 10 AM and after 6PM.
2. Know your soil type and absorption rate. Having a high percentage of clay in the soil will reduce your absorption rate to around one and a half inches of water per foot of soil, whereas loamier soils like clay loam, silty loam, or silt-heavy clay loam are the best soil types for water absorption. Fine sand and loamy sand retain the least amount of water, at less than an inch of water per soil foot. Not only the amount your soil absorbs beneath your sod is important, but the rate at which the water is absorbed will help keep your lawn healthy and happy!
3. Know how often to water. It is a myth that lawns need to be watered daily. Especially nowadays in water conservation-conscious times and communities, using just enough water to maintain lawns is the best rule of thumb, rather than the “flood it” mentality that many subscribed to in the past, or still do. In drought-prone areas, you may still need to water up to 3.5 hours per week. Most other areas can get away with much less–say, around an hour on average. Watering four days a week, fifteen to twenty minutes a day is a good rule for the average lawn. A good gauge is to stick a six-inch screwdriver into the soil–if it breaks through easily, your soil is retaining water properly. If it takes effort, increase your watering schedule.
4. Test your sprinkler output. Determine your sprinkler output by using this hyperlinked chart from the University of California, and cut back or increase your watering frequency based on your findings.
Other good tips for making sure your lawn gets properly watered and efficiently absorbs water include: fertilize and mow your lawn at the proper times with a good lawn mower, use an automatic timer, and use a recycled water system. Your lawn is a finely-tuned living organism that has particular needs just like any plant or living thing. Keep your lawn happy, and it will grow green, strong, and vibrant for you!