How To Water Your Grass

How To Water Your Grass

There are many factors that go into maintaining a verdant green and healthy lawn. One of the most important is making sure that it has enough moisture to make the most out of the available nutrients in your turf. Yet knowing just how much water your lawn needs to grow can be a little bit challenging. You might be surprised to hear that there are several factors that go into how much water your grass needs throughout the season, and possibly even during a given week.

For some homeowners, the knee-jerk instinct is to simply pour the water on, with the basic assumption that more water equals more growth. This is especially tempting if you don’t have an irrigation system and you are going to be out of town on business or vacation. On the other end of the spectrum, there are some homeowners who simply trust the rain to handle their lawn’s moisture needs.

Unfortunately, both of these extremes can have a disastrous impact on the health of your grass. Not to mention they can potentially leave your turf vulnerable to common lawn pests as well as damaging diseases. Addressing these issues can be costly, while still leaving you with ugly patches as your lawn slowly heals.

How Much Water Does Grass Need?

Throughout the course of an average growing season, the grass in your lawn will typically need around an inch of water per week. This level of moisture will help your lawn keeps its vibrant green color while still growing at a reasonable rate. It’s also not so overly wet that the turf becomes vulnerable to things like fungus.

As the summer heat starts to rise it can impact the moisture content of your turf. This starts in the upper levels where the majority of your grass’ roots are. The intense sun can rapidly dry out your turf robbing grass of the moisture it needs to grow. This, in turn, could trigger slow growth and even dead spots.

Yet an overly wet summer mixed with a period of sun and heat can boost grass growth to phenomenal rates that can sometimes make it hard to keep up with.

Does Soil Affect How Fast Grass Grows?

Your turf represents the upper layer of your lawn. It’s the place where grass sets it roots to absorb moisture and the key nutrients needed for growth. The turf also relies on a certain level of aeration to transport nutrients, and avoid soil-borne diseases.

The subsoil below the turf can have its own characteristics. Especially if your lawn was originally laid down as sod.

If the subsoil is extremely sandy, any moisture that makes it beyond the deepest layers of the turf will simply run off and no longer be available to the roots of the grass. If the subsoil is heavy with clay, it might retain an excessive amount of moisture, especially during times of frequent rain.

This can in-turn saturate the turf robbing the roots of the necessary aeration. In time, it could even start to compact the turf leading to long-term aeration problems. This can be an even bigger issue if your regular lawn mowing sessions have left a lot of undecomposed thatch. Turf in this condition may need professional aeration to bring it back to life.

Creating An Effective Lawn Watering Strategy

Let’s say you’ve done your homework and you know that your underlying subsoil isn’t overly sandy or too rich with clay. You might also have taken the wise step to invest in a mulching or bagging mower. Though even if you haven’t, consistent mowing with a side discharge lawnmower will keep thatch issues under control.

This allows you to turn your focus on developing an effective watering and mowing strategy that you can flex as needed throughout the growing season.

Your Lawn’s Watering Needs In Spring And Early Summer

Spring and early summer tend to be wet times of the year for people living in places that receive a fair amount of winter snow. The melt and natural presence of cliché “Spring Showers” are usually enough to bring your grass out of its dormancy. You might even notice a time where a hearty rain shower is followed by some sunny days then your lawn suddenly springs to life!

The trick during this early part of the season is to keep an eye on the grass. When you start noticing things like brown tips on cut blades of grass, dry spots, or areas where high foot traffic has been making a noticeable impact, it’s time to start actively watering.

What Time Of Day Is Best For Watering Grass?

Early morning is often the best time to water the grass. This lets the moisture soak down into the layers of the turf before the heat of the sun has a chance to evaporate it away. If you choose to water your lawn in the evening hours, it might remain overly wet throughout the night. During the summer this could be very inviting for damaging lawn fungus and other common turf diseases.

Does Grass Length Affect Lawn Moisture?

During times of the season when moisture, sun, and warmth are in bountiful supply grass that is supported by healthy turf will grow vigorously. During this time of year, you will need to take a proactive approach to mowing your lawn. If your lawnmower has an adjustable deck height, you might want to dial it down low to keep the grass trimmed, or else it could get away from you.

On the other end of the spectrum, if the local conditions have been overly dry, you might want to leave the grass a little on the long side. You don’t have to stop mowing altogether, but you might want to adjust your lawnmower’s cutting deck to a higher setting around three inches or so. This will help to shade the turf during the heat of the day for improved moisture retention.

Can I Water With A Sprinkler?

Ideally, an irrigation system with automated controls and sophisticated rain sensors will give you the best results. However, these things cost a lot of money. Especially if you have a yard that’s more than half an acre.

A garden hose with a sprayer attached to the end might be sufficient for a very small urban yard. Still, anything more than a tenth of an acre and you are going to probably find yourself thinking of better things you could be doing with your time.

Landing in the middle gray area is the humble home sprinkler. There are many different options on the market to consider. Some are far more effective than the old-fashioned rainbow sprinkler your parents let you run through when you were a kid.

The goal is to choose a unit or a layout of sprinklers that will maximize coverage of your lawn. If the circle or arc of water they release misses a portion of your turf that grass will be vulnerable to stress, especially in the peak of summer.

This might be a sprinkler that uses water pressure to propel it along a predetermined path, a sprinkler head, or even a small sprinkler with an easy to move base that you adjust as needed.

Best Individual Sprinklers For A Garden Hose

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Best Multi-Sprinklers For Full Lawn Coverage

If you have a larger lawn then a single sprinkler probably isn’t going to get the job done. Even if you can get by with a single movable sprinkler, chances are you have better things to do with your Tuesday evening than lugging hoses and trying to remember the high school geometry needed to fit circles into a square.

Beyond having an expensive professional irrigation system installed, the ideal solution for this scenario is to use multiple sprinkler heads in a set position. Then divert the single hose line into multiple hoses. Each feeding water to the sprinklers.

Just bear in mind that most household garden hoses lack the pressure to adequately feed more than one sprinkler head at a time. You essentially set up your sprinkler heads in their set positions at the start of the summer and connect each to a diverted. When the turf surrounding one sprinkler reaches the desired level of saturation, you simply flip a switch to send full pressure to the next sprinkler head.

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Diverters For Sending Water Pressure To Multiple Sprinklers

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