Watering Basics for Established Lawns

Turfgrass lawns need water for growth and development. In many areas of the world, there is neither sufficient rainfall, nor is it adequately spaced throughout the year to sustain your lawn without supplemental water supplied by irrigation.

Proper watering practices improve the quality of your lawn, provide important environmental benefits, and save you money.

Water is a valuable resource and should be used as efficiently as possible. It may be hard to believe, but most homeowners tend to over-water their lawns and actually waste water by not following a few relatively simple irrigation practices.

The amount of water an established lawn requires and receives will help determine its overall health, beauty, drought resistance and ability to withstand use.

On an average, the lawn needs about one inch (2.5 cm) of water per week, either by rainfall or in combination with irrigation. However, the water requirement will vary between different turfgrass species and even among cultivars within a specie.

There also will be varying water requirements for seasonal changes, for sun and shade factors, and for the degree of slope within areas of the lawn. Still more watering differences are brought about because of different soil types.

The healthiest lawns are produced when they are watered heavily at infrequent intervals. 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.

Let the lawn completely dry out between watering intervals. Most turfgrass can tolerate dryer conditions over a reasonable period of time.

Look at your lawn to determine if it needs water. Grass in need of water will have a grey-blue cast to it. On an adequately watered lawn, footprints will completely disappear within minutes. On a lawn in need of water, footprints will still be visible after a half-hour or more.

You also can use a soil probe, such as a screwdriver or large spike, to determine how dry your lawn is. If the probe can be pushed into the soil easily, the soil is probably still moist. But if it takes a lot of pressure to push in, the soil is too dry. Water only when the probe is difficult to push into the ground or shows that the soil is dry at a depth of 4 to 6 inches (10.16 – 15.24 cm).

The best times to water your lawn are early morning or early evening, when there is generally less wind and heat. Watering then allows for less evaporation into the air, greater penetration into the soil, and less run-off.

Whether watering with an in-ground sprinkIer system or above-ground hose-end sprinklers you need to inspect the components frequently to ensure they are operating properly. Also check to make sure you are getting uniform water coverage across the lawn.

If puddles or run-off occur, allow water to penetrate into the soil before resuming watering. If your watering system is applying water faster than it can be absorbed by the soil, you will want to adjust the amount of water applied, or the timing of the application, or both.

This information provided by The Lawn Institute – www.TheLawnInstitute.org

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