TIMING IS CRITICAL for lawn watering!
Watering your lawn mid-day will result in a high rate of evaporation and sunburned grass. Roots can maintain plenty of moisture even after several days without rain. Before watering, look for signs that it’s needed: patchy areas, a general change in color or footprints that remain in the grass long after being made.
Frequent light watering can actually weaken your lawn by encouraging shallow roots that are less tolerant of dry periods and more susceptible to insect damage. Wet grass can also burn in the hot sun and is vulnerable to disease from mildew and fungus. Test your soil for dryness by digging your finger below the surface of the soil. Water only when the soil is dry to a depth of 1 1/2 inches. When watering, check to see that water soaks down 3-4 inches. This encourages deep root growth.
GIVE YOUR LAWN A REST
If your lawn “fades” in the summer, don’t panic. Grass becomes naturally dormant during hot, dry periods. It will revive quickly after a good rainfall or when the weather turns cooler.
- One inch of water a week (rain plus supplemental watering) should be plenty. After heavy rains, you may not need to water for 10-14 days.
- Water very early in the morning.
- Never water when it’s windy, rainy or very hot.
- Raise the blade level of your mower to 2 -3 inches or more. Longer grass retains more moisture because it shades the roots. It encourages deeper rooting, requires less fertilizer and competes better against weeds.
- Never water faster than the soil can absorb it. Avoid puddling and run-off.
- Be sure your hose has a shut-off nozzle. Hoses without a nozzle can spout 10 gallons or more per minute.
- If you have an automatic sprinkler system, make sure the timer or “controller” is set to water each landscape zone efficiently. Program the controller to operate according to the watering needs of your lawn or garden. Better still, install a rain sensor or soil moisture sensor that turns the system off if it’s raining or if moisture is present in the soil.
- Do not apply fertilizer in the summer – new growth requires more water. Apply in early spring and or fall.
- Aerate your soil in April, September or October to aid water absorption and retention.