Soil Types Make a Difference in Lawn Irrigation

Water soaks into the soil at different speeds, depending on your soil type. Identifying your soil type and how it reacts to water will help you determine how to water your lawn more effectively. Water is a valuable resource and should be used as efficiently as possible.

If you don’t know your soil type, soil testing services and information are often available through your local county extension service. While do-it-yourself home soil test kits are available at many nurseries and garden centers, they only will provide limited results compared to a professional soil test.

Though water requirements will differ according to multiple variables, on average, the lawn needs about one inch (2.5 cm) of water per week, supplied either by rainfall or in combination with irrigation. One-inch (2.5 cm) of water per week will normally soak the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches (10 – 15 cm), allowing the water to reach deep into the root system.

Once you know your basic soil type, you can use the following table as a guide to determine how long the system needs to run in order to soak the lawn to a desired depth of 4 to 6 inches (10 – 15 cm). Both the infiltration rate and the percolation rate are given for each soil type listed.

Soil Type Infiltration Inch Per Hour
Percolation Time For 1 inch To Soak In
2.0 inches
0.5 hours
Sandy Loam
1.0 inches
1.0 hours
0.5 inches
2.0 hours
Silt Loam
0.4 inches
2.25 hours
Clay Loam
0.3 inches
3.3 hours
0.2 inches
5.0 hours

No matter what kind of irrigation system or method you use, you’ll want to adjust it to the soil's absorption rate. Apply water at a rate equal to or slightly less than the soil’s ability to absorb it.

Most irrigation systems apply water faster than necessary, which wastes water through run-off. Stop watering for an interval if you see run-off occurring and allow the water to soak in before resuming irrigation.

Check your irrigation system periodically to ensure it is applying water uniformly.

This information provided by The Lawn Institute –

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