Watering requirements for your lawn will depend on a lot of different factors and will vary considerably from lawn to lawn and area to area. In general, in the hot summer months, lawn made from bluegrass or ryegrass will need about 2¼ inches of water every week. less in cooler weather. If your lawn is made from fescues less frequent watering is needed as this type of grass has a deeper root system and can store more moisture between waterings. Buffalograss and blue grama grass also require less watering and can often stay green for weeks between watering even in the hottest summer months.
If your lawn is protected from the wind or is shaded it will also require less watering than a more exposed lawn. However large trees and mature bushes and shrubs compete with the grass for any available water so lawns surrounded by these may require more water. A healthy, well fertilized lawn also needs less frequent watering than a neglected lawn.
Before watering it is a good idea to find out how deep the roots go as this is the depth you need moisture to penetrate. Take a soil probe, stick or a shovel and check out the root depth. The first time you water check the depth that the water has penetrated and the time this took and use this as a guide to the length of time needed to apply water in the future. The type of soil will influence how long and how much water it takes to sufficiently penetrate the soil. A heavy clay soil will be harder to penetrate than a light sandy soil. Take care not to over water which is especially easy for a sandy soil.
How Often To Water
The frequency of watering is again dependent on the soil type. Heavy clay soils retain water much more efficiently than light sandy soils and need much less frequent watering. It is better to use less frequent watering where possible as evaporation wastage is less and this also helps to discourage weeds.
Water is best applied slowly to prevent wastage by run off, particularly on clay soils or heavily thatched lawns. using a sprinkler is an efficient way to water, easier to do and the sprinkler can easily be moved to different areas. Water is absorbed better by the soil and roots and run off is minimal. run off can also be minimized by aerating the soil. particularly if it is heavy clay, and reducing thatch by raking.
When to Water
The lawn will take on a wilted appearance and may look gray or purplish blue when watering is needed. Another way to tell is if footprints stay instead of the grass springing back up fairly quickly. Small areas of wilting often develop and these can help you predict when watering is needed. If you see spots develop do a spot water and expect to water the whole lawn in the next two days.
Deep irrigation and less frequent watering can 'harden' a lawn so that it stands up to short periods without water more easily. However even for a hardened lawn do not allow it to go too long between watering as this may make it more susceptible to diseases and weeds.
Watering in the fall or winter may still be necessary but will, of course, be needed much less frequently than in the summer. Provided the ground is not frozen a good interval between watering is about four weeks. Take special note of lawns on shallow soil or those on exposed south or west facing slopes as these may require more frequent watering.
The Time of Day
Watering in the late evening or early morning is ideal as it tends to be less windy and more humid at these times so loss due to evaporation will be less. It is often thought, incorrectly, that watering in the evening encourages diseases. You should also find out if there are any by-laws in your area that restrict the use of hose pipes or sprinklers to certain times of the day.
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