A healthy lawn is not just a sight for sore eyes in the summer (or any season). It is also a great place whether you plan to sunbathe or host a barbecue party. Keeping the grass clean and plush is an important part of maintaining the lawn. It means you can rest easy when the kids and pets are out playing knowing that they are in good hands (or well, grass).
Those lush lawn pictures we have all seen, perhaps on Pinterest(?) or maybe someone is sending them to you on WhatsApp should not be a reason for jealousy. In fact, when you look at them, you should want to post pictures of your lawn and be the envy of the internet. So, how does one get there?
They say grass needs nothing to grow, but that’s not really true. There are a few things you need to keep in mind when watering the grass on your lawn. We’ll tell you all about it.
As a rule of thumb, watering the lawn early in the morning is the best option. Experts recommend that you do this between 5 and 10 am. This is because you get there before the day gets hot because that is when a lot of evaporation takes place.
So, you want to give the grass a little something to feed on before the sun gets to them. This is also a good idea because later in the day the wind interferes with the pattern of your sprinklers which makes them inefficient.
You could neglect this advice and water your grass at night, but then you would be opening the doors to mildew and fungi. This happens because the grass stays moist for too long at night.
This is particularly true after mowing the lawn because the terrain is vulnerable after getting chopped by a blade. Yes, plants have those feelings too. That’s why you must give them a day to get over the trauma and then feed them some water.
Then there is the question of how much is too much (or too little). So, let’s get started by looking at what is healthy for lawn grass. That’s right. You can tell by looking at the grass if it is doing well.
If that does not work for you, get a screwdriver and push it about 6-7 inches into the surface. You can do this on a weekly basis and if the screwdriver comes out looking dry then it is time to give the lawn more water. That means you need a new schedule.
This is a good exercise to do even normally, but it is especially helpful when the seasons are changing. This means your lawn will need more fertilizing too. In spring and fall, you might want to reduce the amount of watering and give the grass a little bit of organic fertilizer.
Now, the way you know the lawn is getting too much water is if you see mushrooms grow. So, reduce the quantity of water till you see them disappear.
When you first change the watering routine, you must inspect the soil about 15 minutes apart. This will help you determine how much water is getting soaked and how long it is taking to do so. You can also get the screwdriver out and see how long it took for the water to reach 6 inches of depth.
Now, if you are using sprinklers, you can do the same by measuring against their flow rate. The manufacturer will be able to help you with this. The formula for that is:
Time to run sprinkler = [Square footage of the lawn x 0.62 gallons (which is one inch of water/square foot)] / flow rate
You can also place small tuna cans in the lawn to check the time it takes for an inch of water to gather in the can. This is because the coverage differs depending on the sprinkler.
When you have a new lawn, you don’t want the water to be too intense because that will lead to soil erosion. So, pick your sprinkler wisely. Pulsating sprinklers are good for mature grass, whereas oscillating sprinklers are good for new grass.
You need the latter till the grass grows strong roots because it will not push the seeds and the stream is relatively gentler on the landing strip. When the grass is new, the top one inch must be kept moist but make sure it does not get soggy.
This can be achieved by watering regularly and monitoring the top three inches. It is also important to keep this in mind when mowing because new grass gets damaged more easily.
Regular watering for new grass means watering every 15 minutes for the first two weeks. Take a few walks in between the sods and press them towards the soil to help the roots.
Pop-up sprinklers will do this job well if you set the timer right. This is well accomplished with an in-ground irrigation system. It takes care of both the timing and the amount of water. They might look like quite the investment but are totally worth the money.
If you don’t want to spend so much, you can get a pulsating sprinkler and hook it to a garden hose. This is the next best thing because they spray water horizontally and that is not as vulnerable to weather conditions like wind and heat. They can also be adjusted to rotate on the sides so it is manageable.
If you’re going for pulsating sprinklers, you will find two types in the market. One has a flat but wide base which can be placed on grass but also be moved easily. The other is attached to a spike that is sharp which makes it easy to dig into the ground at any spot of your choice.
They are both good choices so it depends on how you want to use them.
The final and perhaps the most important trick when it comes to watering a lawn is the type of lawn itself. You must take the weather and your zone into account. But you will have to focus on the kind of grass you are about to grow or are already growing.
Watering and overall care differ from one type of lawn to the other. This will determine the schedule you need to draw so that your lawn is well maintained throughout the year.
There are essentially two types of grass.
These grasses are meant to be grown in regions where the temperature is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Bermuda and Zoysia are good examples. In these regions, oftentimes the temperature drops which means these grasses are more likely to stay moist which is perfect for their well-being.
This means you can water them when the grasses are in their growing season and mow them regularly depending on that growth. However, these grasses should not be fertilized during the fall. Their growth season is spring and that’s when they should be fed.
On the contrary, this one is dormant in the summer and grows very well during the fall. Fescue, bluegrass and rye are good examples of cool-season grass. Water does not evaporate as much from these grasses in fall but you need to make sure they have 1-1.5 inches of water on a weekly basis. Maintain this schedule till the frosting season comes in which is when they will not grow as actively.
Fall is also the time to feed these grasses some organic fertilizer. And water them again after feeding because you need to get rid of the fertilizer from the blades and push it down the soil.
Deep lawn watering is the key to maintaining a lawn well. So, as you probably understood by now, your lawn needs a regular watering schedule. This depends on the type of lawn grass you have and the weather conditions where you live.
You must also pick the sprinklers wisely unless you are going to do the whole thing manually with a garden hose. This choice of sprinklers depends on whether you have new grass or mature grass.
You must also remember to check the water levels on a weekly basis after you have allowed the grass to settle. This is to make sure your lawn is neither overwatered nor starving.
A regular water schedule also keeps your lawn free of diseases. And of course, in places where there are a lot of insects, there is considerable damage too that can be avoided if you keep the lawn healthy. If you live in heat-sensitive areas like Utah, you might want to go with tall fescue, or rye grass.
A good watering schedule takes the duration and frequency of watering into consideration. This is what makes it effective.