Watering your lawn may seem simple, but getting it right can be a confusing process. Does the time of day matter? What’s the difference between sprinklers? Are you watering too much or not enough? Let’s demystify this lawn care task so you can keep your grass looking green and healthy all summer.
How Much Water Do I Use?
Most grass varieties need between one and one-and-a-half inches of precipitation each week to stay at peak growth, but this can vary a lot depending on the variety. Buffalo grass needs just a quarter to half an inch of water per week, while Kentucky Bluegrass can use up to 2 ½ inches per week in the peak summer heat.
After watering, the top 6-8 inches of soil should be moist. Penetration varies widely depending on soil type, so you’ll need to check your lawn to make sure it’s hydrated. A half-hour after watering, push a long screwdriver through the soil. If the soil is moist, it should be easy to push it through 6 inches of dirt.
Grass doesn’t need to be watered every day. Typically, sandy soils will stay damp when watered twice per week, while heavy clay can go up to a week before watering. Overwatering can lead to issues with fungus, weeds, thatch buildup and insect infestations. Don’t apply the same amount of water each week. Instead, use a rain gauge to keep track of precipitation, and add just enough water to make up the difference.
Construction packs down the soil. Even if you aerated your lawn recently, you should water in stages to give the soil more time to absorb the water.
What to Consider When Setting Up an Irrigation System
To calculate the amount of water you’re using, multiply your lawn’s size in square feet by 0.62. This is the number of gallons of water you need to get the equivalent of one inch of precipitation.
Irrigation systems need some fine-tuning to make them consistent. To check for wet and dry spots, set some cups or cans in your yard. You can place some rocks or coins in them to keep them from blowing over. After watering, remove the weights and check the levels of each cup.
When watering large plants, consider using water emitters or soaker hoses. These drop water right at the root system of bushes and shrubs. If you’re using a portable irrigation system, use the wand to direct water to the base of the root system.
Even if you’re watering by hand, you should consider upgrading your hose. Rubber hoses don’t kink or break down like plastic hoses, making them easier to deal with and more consistent. To water more accurately, add a shut-off valve between the hose and the sprayer.
There are several choices when it comes to lawn watering. Impact sprinklers irrigate a wide area evenly. Oscillating sprinklers are cheaper, but they need to be moved frequently to evenly distribute water. However, the spray is less intense than an oscillating sprinkler, so they won’t wash away new seeds. Fountain spray sprinklers water a small area. They’re a good choice if you’re establishing new plants.
Tips for Watering Your Lawn
Water in the morning. This reduces evaporation and takes advantage of early day breezes. If you can’t do that, water in the early evening. Watering after 6 pm will leave the lawn damp, encouraging the growth of mold.
Use less water in shaded areas. Less water will evaporate, leaving more for the soil.
Thatch should be no more than ½ inch thick. A thicker layer will block water and can cause roots to grow out of the ground.
Construction, vehicle traffic, and foot traffic compact soil, stopping water from soaking into it. Aerating breaks up the surface soil, relieving this pressure. For the best results, dethatch your lawn to give your aerator’s tines a direct path to the soil.
Grass goes dormant and turns brown when it doesn’t get enough water. If this happens, stop watering your lawn. Bringing it back to life will stress it out.
Shank’s Lawn Can Help You With Your Equipment Needs
From push mowers to tractors, pumps to pressure washers, if it’s lawn equipment, we have it. Shank’s Lawn is an authorized dealer for a wide range of brands from Multi-One to Little Wonder, so we have your needs covered for residential and commercial lawn care. When you need new equipment or parts and service for your current tools, visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. We’re just one mile from I-81.
We also ship OEM parts and accessories for all the brands we sell across the United States and Canada. To order, visit us online at www.shankslawn.com.