1. Why do we need to water our lawn?
The easy answer is that our grass needs water to maintain it’s health. Depending on the local weather, we at times need to provide said moisture for our lawn. The more specific reason for watering is its importance to deep root growth. The benefits of a healthy root system for your lawn are too long to list, but let’s just say water is the Chris Farley to grass’s David Spade.
The main thing to understand is that a shallow root system leaves your lawn vulnerable to drought and lawn diseases, and encourages weed germination. The deeper and more extensive your root system, the better it can utilize the soil’s resources, such as water and nutrients. This mean less work for you, as you won’t have to provide the resources yourself.
2. When do I water my lawn?
The most important thing to remember is to only water your lawn when it needs it. The most common mistake is to over-water your lawn, when in most cases, less is more. Over-watering actually causes shallow root growth and can promote lawn fungus and disease.
The easiest way to know when to water, is to look at your lawn. Nobody knows your lawn better then you do. A telltale sign that it’s time to water is when your lawn color starts to turn a greyish-blue. Also, walk across your lawn. If you lawn has a crunch to it, or your footprints are present in lawn, it means it’s time to water.
The best time of day to water your lawn is early in the morning, I suggest sometime between 5-8am. This of course varies depending on your local climate and time of year. A big mistake people make is watering their lawn in the evenings. Night-time watering is a big no-no, and akin to having unprotected sex in a Tijuana brothel. It keeps the grass too wet for too long, and makes your lawn vulnerable to a variety of lawn fungi and diseases. If you water in the middle of the afternoon, you lose too much moisture to evaporation and the water doesn’t end up getting deep enough into the root system.
3. How long should I water?
This is something you need to figure out for yourself. The good news is a couple of easy steps will give you all the information you need. The first thing you need to do is figure out how deep your current root system extends. This is as simple as digging a small hole in your lawn and seeing how many inches the roots run down. Depending on the grass and the type of soil, your root system could be anywhere from 6-12 inches.
Now that you have determined the current depth of your root system, it’s time to figure out how long to water in order to reach our desired depth. The only way to do this is to run your sprinklers or water your lawn. Make sure you do this when the lawn needs to be watered, not after any heavy rains. The way I learned to do it, run your sprinklers or water your lawn for 15 minutes straight, waiting around 20-24hrs to allow soil to saturate. To test what type of depth you got with your watering, use a probe if you have one, although you can just put a shovel in the ground and see how far down it’s damp. Now remember, when we water we are trying to promote deeper root growth, so we are going to want to saturate our soil to just below the root line. If the soil is damp 4 inches down and you need 8, adjust accordingly, and double that 15 minutes. Gauging the saturation that your lawn needs is that easy, and key to maintaining a healthy root system.
4. Helpful Tips
– Get a rain gauge. They only cost a couple bucks and are invaluable in determining how much you should be watering, if at all.
– Pay attention to the weather. Know when it’s supposed to rain and when it isn’t. Don’t be the asshole who has his sprinklers running during a rain storm. However if it’s been really dry and you are expecting a storm, it’s actually good to water your lawn for a few minutes to moisten it. Sort of like foreplay, this actually allows your soil to absorb the rain more effectively… to really take it deep.
– Make sure to hand water areas of your lawn that don’t get as much rain, or don’t get hit properly by your sprinkler system. Raining or water running does not guarantee you are getting full coverage.
– Buy a rain barrel. It’s great for conserving water and worth every penny. Use this to produce the water for the areas you hand water and for landscaping.