Watering the Lawn - When and How Much?

Whether you have an in-ground irrigation system or use above ground moveable sprinklers, proper watering practices can have an immensely positive impact on the overall health of your lawn. In contrast, poor watering practices can have a vastly negative effect on lawn health. Follow these general guidelines to ensure your lawn is able to stay as hardy and healthy as possible through the growing season and beyond...

  • Consider delaying watering your lawn during April and May.
    • This is dependent on weather, of course. But in general, Mother Nature tends to provide your lawn with plenty of natural irrigation during these earlier spring months. 
    • Waiting to water your lawn can encourage the root system to grow deeper and broader in search of nutrients which creates a hardier, more drought resistant lawn.
    • If you must water during this time, adjust your sprinklers to eliminate runoff into storm drains.
  • Water your lawn in the morning.
    • Watering your lawn in the morning (between 4am-10am) has many positive benefits. During this time of day water pressure is greater and winds are milder. These conditions combined with milder temperatures ensure that more of the water is able to penetrate the soil as opposed to evaporating.
  • Water your lawn deeply.
    • Tall fescue (most common in our area) requires approximately 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. Instead of running sprinklers daily in short bursts, water the lawn infrequently for longer periods of time. Deep watering will train the grass to expand its root system in order to reach important nutrients. One way to measure how much water your lawn is getting is to place small cups in the turf throughout the lawn while your irrigation is running and then measure the amount of water in those cups after it's finished. Another method is to use a screwdriver to probe your lawn. If it easily pushes in to 6-8 inches, your lawn has plenty of water. If it's a struggle to push it in, you likely need to water more. 
  • Make sure you are only watering the grass. 
    • Adjusting your sprinklers so that the water is only hitting the grass and not the pavement has multiple benefits. First, this ensures that all of the water is going where it should be and not into storm drains which is equivalent to a steady stream of pennies rolling down the street and into oblivion. Secondly, this makes sure that all of the expensive fertilizer and other chemicals that are on the lawn stay where they're meant to be. Excess runoff not only wastes your hard earned money, but it also may harm the environment. 
  • Common sense questions to guide your watering practices. 
    • While it is absolutely easier to use a "set it and forget it" approach to watering your lawn, watering according to the weather can lead to much more positive results. Asking yourself some simple questions can help conserve water and grow a healthier, hardier lawn. 
    • You should water LESS if you answer yes to any of these questions:
      • Have we had cooler temperatures recently?
      • Has it been cloudy or overcast?
      • Have we had low wind recently?
      • Has there been higher levels of humidity?
      • Have we recently had rain showers?
    • You should water MORE if you answer yes to any of these questions:
      • Have we had higher temperatures with excessive amounts of sunlight recently?
      • Has there been excessive winds?
      • Have we had lower levels of humidity?
      • Has it been a while since our last rain?