The Perfect Watering Schedule for Your Lawn
Finding the right amount of water and the perfect frequency might take a bit of trial and error, but it’s worth the effort. A well-watered lawn will be green, lush, and soft underfoot while also being the envy of the neighbourhood! Here’s what you need to know to create an ideal watering schedule for your home.
When You Should Water Your Lawn
The best time to water your grass is early in the mornings, before 10:00 a.m. if possible. Hot, sunny afternoons are not ideal as the water may evaporate before the grass can absorb what it needs. Watering overnight could lead to problems with disease. Always do a spring checkup of the entire sprinkler system for any damaged pipes or irrigation heads during the winter months. If you are unfamiliar with your sprinkler system and how to prep it for spring please consult with a professional.
How Much Water?
Most lawns need about an inch of water per week, but this amount can vary depending on which region of the country you live, wind speed, evaporation rate, and what type of grass you are growing. Cool-season grasses can tolerate drought, meanwhile some others will go dormant during a drought.
If your lawn is browning, or if you walk across the lawn and your footprints don’t disappear relatively quickly, you probably need a bit more than the recommended one inch. Signs of overwatering include a dense thatch layer on the soil surface, fungi growth, excess weeds, visible standing water, bare spots in the soil or a spongy feel to the soil when walking.
Using an Irrigation System
Although sprinkler systems make it easy to water daily, most lawns will not require this much water. Rather than short, light watering, create a schedule for less-frequent, deep watering sessions. Knowing how long to leave the sprinkler on depends on the flow pattern or rate of your system, wind speed, and evaporation rates.
This information should be available from the manufacturer, or you can leave a few empty tuna fish or cat food containers on the lawn the next time you water and see how long it takes to fill with an inch of water. Keep in mind that water distribution might not be even across your lawn so be sure to use several containers and get an average amount of time to fill them all.
For the average lawn, 30 minutes twice per week is an ideal watering schedule and a good starting point for creating your own custom schedule. To make sure you’ve watered enough, check the soil every 15 minutes or so and stop once the ground has been moistened to a depth of six inches.
Another test to check the range of the sprinkler system, is placing regular baking flour lightly on the lawn, and after the irrigation system runs a full cycle check for any spots with flour still showing. Left over flour indicates a need for a sprinkler head adjustment due to clogging, radius shift in the nozzle or incorrect flow pattern.
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