A lush, green, and dense lawn has become s status symbol in many parts of the world. However, a healthy yard is more than just what meets the eye. Keep reading to find out how often should you water your lawn.
A thick carpet of grass on your property will decrease soil erosion, capture pollutants, absorb rainfall produce oxygen, absorb noise, and, most importantly, provide a safe place for outdoor activities.
However, growing and maintaining a healthy lawn is no easy task. You must work hours and ensure that your grass has everything it needs, including adequate water.
Photo Credit Every living thing needs water to thrive, and your grass is no different.
Water is an essential part of a happy, healthy lawn. So, it is of utmost importance that you water it correctly. Most turf grasses need about an inch of water a week, ideally not all at once. However, don’t water daily. Watering grass every day will result in a shallow root system. And too much water can be just as harmful as too little water.
That said, there is a lot more to watering grass. Read on to find out!
Fundamentals Of Watering A Lawn
Photo Credit Established and well-cared-for lawns can sit dormant for weeks without water.
No matter how hardy or durable your turfgrass is, it will die without water.
Thankfully, we live in a wet country, and a well-established lawn can often get all the water from the soil or air without being watered for days.
However, if you want to keep your grass healthy and maintain its lush and green color, you will need to water it sometimes.
But how do you tell if your lawn needs water?
When To Water Your Lawn?
There are many ways to know if your grass needs water.
For instance, you might need to water your grass if your lawn appears dull or has taken a grayish cast. Likewise, curled grass blades are another indicator of a thirsty lawn.
Still, if unsure, you can perform simple tests to see if your grass needs water.
The first test involves you taking a walk on your lawn. If your grass is adequately watered, the grass will spring right back wherever you step.
However, if the grass stays down and does not spring back while walking on your lawn, the grass needs watering.
The second test is called the “screwdriver” test, and it is what it sounds like.
You take a screwdriver and see if you can push it about six or seven inches into the soil.
If you cannot make it that far, the soil is dry, and you must water your lawn. The screwdriver test can also be used to check the depth of moisture in your yard. If the water is only present around the surface, you will need to water your lawn more.
Shallow watering produces a short root system, making grass vulnerable to drought.
More about it later in the article.
Mistakes People Make When Watering Grass
Photo Credit Like every other lawn care task, you need to water your grass at the right time.
Before we get into the “its & bits” of correctly watering a lawn, let’s quickly discuss some mistakes people make when watering their grass.
Watering grass may seem like a “no-brainer,” but people make many fundamental mistakes. Discussing these here will make you better understand a few things we will discuss in this article. So, let’s dive right in!
Watering The Wrong Amount
One of the most common mistakes people make when watering their lawns is underwater or overwatering them. It may not sound like a big deal, but it can seriously affect the health of a yard.
For instance, underwatering the grass can put grass under stress, and when this happens, the grass cannot defend itself against diseases and pests.
Overwatering, on the other hand, puts the lawn in danger of developing fungal diseases. Moreover, when a yard is overwatered consistently, the soil becomes compacted, and the grass becomes thin, which gives weeds a chance to move in.
Watering At The Wrong Time
If you have a lawn, you must know that you cannot fertilize, mow, dethatch, aerate or perform any other lawn care tasks at any time or whenever you feel like it.
Doing so can do more harm than good, so you have to time these lawn care tasks perfectly with the growth cycle of your turfgrass. The same is also true for watering a lawn.
And, when it comes to correctly watering a lawn, time is of the essence.
Ignoring The Grass Needs
Just as some grasses need to be mowed at a lower or higher height than others, they also need varying amounts of water to show their best growth or maintain their green color.
So, when watering your grass, ensure you know its watering needs. Not sure how much water your grass needs? Do not worry; it is only a Google search away.
I have also provided the watering needs of common turfgrass types below.
It is also important to note that every grass type needs a different amount of watering during its various life stages or growth cycle.
For example, grass seedlings need to be watered much more frequently than in an established yard, and dormant grass will need less or no watering than actively growing grass. So, when watering, plan accordingly.
The “Sprinklers Will Do” Attitude
Another common mistake people make when watering their lawns is leaving it all on the poor sprinklers to take care of their grass’s watering needs. If you do not have sprinklers installed on your lawn, you will not have this mistake, but it is widespread.
Sometimes the sprinklers malfunction, and when you have left it all on the sprinklers, some areas of your lawn might get too much or too little water which will destroy the grass there or at least make it look pale and dull than the surrounding grass on the lawn.
So, if you have sprinklers installed on your property, and they are great, please ensure that you are in proper working condition and your grass is getting evenly watered.
Also, you will need to adjust the time of watering sessions depending on the season.
Using The Wrong Watering Equipment
Last, people often choose the wrong way to water their lawns.
For example, if you have a small yard, watering with a regular garden hose might work well, and it does, but watering a large lawn with a hose is inefficient and a waste of time.
It will result in an even spread of water which will, in turn, create an uneven lawn in terms of grass growth and color. So, I highly recommend you use a sprinkler system for large yards.
However, you cannot use any sprinkler on any grassy area.
Some sprinklers are designed to work for large open spaces such as sports turfs and golf fields, whereas others are designed for compact areas such as home lawns and roadside grassy green belts. More about sprinkler types later in the article.
How Much Water Should I Give To My Lawn?
Photo Credit Most lawns need 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week from rain or watering.
Now that you know that giving the grass the incorrect amount of water is one the most common mistakes people make, you must be wondering what the correct amount of water you should provide to your grass is. Or, how much water does my lawn need?
Most turfgrass types need about one to one and a half an inch of water per week. It means you must keep the top 6 to 8 inches of the soil moist at all times (but not soggy). However, it is essential to remember that the amount of water a lawn needs will vary depending on the climate, turfgrass type, soil conditions, etc.
Below are the weekly water requirements of common turf types in the US.
|Turfgrass Type||Watering Requirements|
|Bermuda Grass||1 to 1¼ inches of water per week|
|Buffalo Grass||1/4- inch of water per week|
|Carpet Grass||1 inch of water each week|
|Centipede Grass||1 to 1.25 inches of water per week|
|Fescue Grass||1 to 1.5 inches of water per week|
|Kentucky Bluegrass||At least 1 inch of water weekly|
|Rye Grass||1 inch of water per week|
|St. Augustine Grass||1 ½ inches of water per week|
|Zoysia Grass||1 inch of rainfall or irrigation per week|
However, there is still the matter of correctly watering new and established lawns. So, let’s now briefly discuss how to water young and mature grass properly.
Watering New Lawns
Grass seeds germinate best when the soil is moist. So, when you have sown a new yard or planted sod in an area, you must keep the top two to three inches of the soil consistently moist. However, do not make the ground soggy, or the seeds will suffocate.
So, instead of watering at once or one to two times a week, you will need to rinse for five to ten minutes every day, so the soil stays moist and all the seeds germinate.
Watering Established Lawns
When watering established lawns, the aim should be to promote the growth of a deep and extensive root system, allowing the grass to survive better in water and nutrient stress conditions. So, how can you encourage the development of deep roots?
Experts suggest watering the lawn infrequently and deeply. So, I recommend you water your grass at a depth of 6 to 8 inches two times a week if it has not rained.
How Long Should I Water The Lawn?
Photo Credit Generally, it would help if you water long enough to moisten the soil to about 6 to 8 inches.
The exact number of minutes you need to water your lawn for each watering session will vary depending on numerous factors, such as sprinkler type, setting, and lawn size. Ideally, you’d irrigate your yard long enough to moisten the above 6 to 8 inches of soil.
Here are a few ways to determine how long to water your lawn to do this.
Perform A Can Test
If you are going with this method to determine the exact amount of time you need to water your lawn, pick up a tuna can, which is about an inch long and works best for this.
Once you have the can, empty it of its contents and place it somewhere on your lawn where the sprinkler water can reach. Next, turn on the sprinkler system and determine how long it takes for your watering system to fill up this one-inch tuna can.
Once you have that time, you can multiply it by 6 or 8 to determine how much time you need to water your lawn to moisten the six to eight inches of topsoil.
Figure It Out Mathematically
Sprinkler systems come with a designated flow rate of gallons or liters per minute, which you can use to calculate the amount of time you need to water your lawn to reach a target. If you do not know the designated flow rate of your sprinklers, call the manufacturer.
Next, multiply the square footage of your yard by 0.62. It is equivalent to 1 inch of water per square foot. Once you have the result, divide it by the flow rate of your sprinklers.
And this is it. You have determined the number of minutes your sprinkler should run.
Invest In A Flow Timer
Buy a timer that measures water flow in hundreds of gallons. Next, multiply the square footage of your yard by 0.62; the result is the total number of gallons you need to water your entire lawn at the desired depth.
When watering, if you notice puddles forming on the ground’s surface, start watering in shorter cycles (e.g., 5 minutes on & 5 minutes off).
Watering Different Grass Types
Photo Credit The type of grass (cool-season or warm-season) will also dictate how you need to water for the best results.
When it comes to watering your lawn, you do not only need to know how much and how long you should water it, but you also need to consider your grass type, the USDA growth zone you reside in, and the season for getting the best out of your watering sessions.
Watering Cool-Season Grasses
Cool seasons grasses such as fescue grass and Kentucky bluegrass stay dormant during summer heat and resume their growth in fall. The evaporation rate is relatively low in the cool weather, but your lawn still needs 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week.
And you will need to water your cool-season grass lawn till the frost ends the active growth season. In addition, cool-season grasses are generally fertilized during the fall, and you need to water your grass to wash it off grass blades and into the soil.
Watering Warm-Season Grasses
So, if you live in a southern State, you will need to water your lawn more than usual to make up for the increased evaporation, and even if you live in the north, the yard will still need water.
So, regularly water your lawn as long as the active season lasts and keep checking when it is dormant, and please do not fertilize warm-season grass during the fall. Instead, wait until the spring begins and the grass leaves dormancy to enter active growth.
Best Time Of The Day To Water A Lawn
Photo Credit A lawn should be watered early in the morning when the temperatures are relatively low.
People often ask: what is the best time to water grass? Is it morning, afternoon, evening, or night? While you can water your lawn at any time of the day, experts usually agree that you should water your lawn early in the morning when the sun is still rising.
It means that you should water your lawn between 4 to 6 AM. Watering this early in the morning ensures that your grass and soil absorb all the water it needs before the sun’s heat evaporates the water from the surface of your property. Furthermore, it makes grass better able to withstand the heat of the day as its grass blades are no longer dry.
Another advantage of watering during the early hours of the day is low wind speeds. If you water during the day when it is hot, not only will the water evaporate, but it will also be much more likely to go in areas you do not want it to due to high wind speeds.
Lastly, you should never water your grass during the evening or night. It is because when you water the lawn at these times, excess water does not evaporate; it just stays on the surface of the soil.
Water standing on the yard’s surface can create many grass and lawn issues, from compaction problems to inviting pests and turf diseases.
Best Way To Water Your Lawn
When watering a lawn, you must decide whether to do it manually or automatically.
Manually watering the grass involves using a standard garden hose and either putting it in place in the yard and letting the water spread on its own or using your hands to sprinkle the water here and there on your lawn. However, watering this way is inefficient.
Also, watering manually does not create an even spread of water which leaves some areas of the property dry, creating a patchy turf. And, not to mention watering your yard in this way with a hose is a considerable expense in terms of time and effort.
Photo Credit If you’re watering with a hose, it takes a little more trial and error than a sprinkler system.
That is why sprinklers have become so popular over recent years. However, when choosing a sprinkler system, you need to consider a few things:
- Is there anything nearby that can get wet?
- What is the shape of your lawn?
- How large an area do you need to cover?
- How much water will you need to use?
Once you understand these things, you can choose a suitable sprinkler system for your lawn. And here are some of the most common ones:
These are the most common sprinklers used on lawns and are an excellent choice for small to medium-sized properties. Furthermore, they come in various types, sizes, and shapes, and you can choose anyone depending on your needs and preferences.
Pulsating sprinklers work best for extensive lawns as they shoot water at an angle with considerable speed, not letting the stream get affected by the blowing wind. But, if you have a newly seeded lawn, the pressure from these sprinklers might damage your lawn.
These sprinklers are relatively expensive, but they are great value for money and are highly efficient. For best results, I recommend using an in-ground sprinkler system that is low to the ground and sprays or shoots the water at a relatively horizontal angle.
These sprinklers work best for newly seeded lawns as the water pressure they generate is relatively low, which does not harm seeds or seedlings. However, it does not imply that they are inefficient. Oscillating sprinklers work great in medium-sized lawns.
How Often Should You Water Your Lawn?
Photo Credit Ideally, You’d water your lawn about 2 to 3 times a week, depending on the weather.
Your lawn needs anywhere from 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. However, you are not recommended to provide this much water at once. Then, what to do?
Accordingly to experts, you should divide the total amount of water you need to give to your grass in parts and spread it over one week.
However, it does not mean you should water in short bursts daily. As already stated, it is detrimental for the grass as it will result in the development of a shallow root system, weakening the grass.
You should water your lawn one to two times per week, depending on the weather conditions. If dry, increase the watering frequency to three to four times per week. However, follow the regular watering plan if the weather is moderate or cold.
There are many considerations to make when watering your grass. You need to consider your turf type, the climate zone you live in, the life cycle of your turfgrass, and the water availability in your region.
It may sound like a lot, but if you want your lawn to look at its best and stay healthiest, you must ensure that all these things are in check.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long should you water an area of grass?
Water your lawn once or twice weekly for around 25 to 30 minutes. The grass needs 1 to 1.5 inches of water every week, so ensure you water it adequately.
Can I use a hose to water the lawn?
Hoses are not intended for watering lawns but for flower beds and vegetable gardens. Also, there is a lower chance of upsetting the grassroots when watering with sprinklers.
When should I water my lawn on a hot day?
It is a terrible idea to water during the hot afternoons of the summer. The heat and irrigation combination should be avoided since it will cause the water to evaporate too quickly.
Should you water the grass after mowing?
If you want, you can water your grass after mowing it, and your lawn needs it. However, do not water the grass before trimming, as the mower won’t be able to cut wet grass blades.
What is the most effective watering technique for lawns?
Drip irrigation is the most water-efficient way to irrigate many plants, including grass. It has up to 90% water use efficiency especially compared to sprinkler systems.
Sources for Further Readings
Watering Guidelines for Home Lawns – Lawn Talk- University of Illinois Extension. (2023). Retrieved 6 January 2023, from https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lawntalk/planting/watering_guidelines_home_lawns.cfm
Irrigating | General Lawn Maintenance | Lawn Problem Solver | Kansas State University. (2023). Retrieved 6 January 2023, from https://www.k-state.edu/turf/resources/lawn-problem-solver/maintenance/irrigating/
Lawn Watering Tips – Oklahoma State University. (2017). Retrieved 6 January 2023, from https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/lawn-watering-tips.html
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