Are you watering your lawn correctly?

If you're waiting for the next rainfall, you're doing it wrong. Quench your lawn's thirst with these watering tips to see lush grass in no time.

Are you watering your lawn correctly?

Watering basics

  • The key to a good watering regimen and a healthy lawn is to water not only when the grass needs it but also enough to penetrate the soil to a depth of 7.5 to 10 centimetres (three to four inches).
  • That encourages healthy, deep root growth and gives the soil moisture reserves, so it'll need less frequent watering.
  • Moist soil also helps the roots absorb and metabolize nutrients and keeps the grass cooler in hot weather. But keep in mind that different parts of your yard need more or less water.
  • Sunny and hilly areas will need more water than shady or low areas.
  • To develop a sound watering strategy, perform this experiment (after a dry spell) in any of these areas your lawn may have: flat, sunny, shady, on a slope, and a couple of feet from the street/driveway (or sidewalk) intersection.
  • Shove a spade into the grass about 15 centimetres (six inches) and pull the shovel back and forth until you can see a cross section of the soil.
  • Look for a level of moister, darker soil at some point below the surface. It indicates how deep the soil moisture penetrates.

When to water:

  • Your lawn needs watering any time the top 2.5 centimetres (one inch) of soil is dry.
  • Water and keep track of the watering time until repeated tests indicate a moisture depth of about 7.5 to 10 centimetres (three to four inches) at each location. That'll tell you how long to water specific areas each time.
  • Perform the shovel test once a week for three to four weeks, keeping track of watering duration.
  • After that testing period, you'll have a good feel for the water retention of your soil and intuitively know how much to water and when without performing the digging test.
  • Sounds like a lot of work, right? The results will save you big on water and you'll have a healthier lawn to boot.

More tips on watering

  • The morning hours are the optimal watering time because the grass blades will dry before nighttime. Lawns that stay moist at night encourage harmful mould and fungal growth. Quit watering one to two hours before sunset. You'll also lose more water to evaporation if you water during hot afternoons.
  • An impact (or impulse) sprinkler will lose 20 per cent less of its water to evaporation than oscillating sprinklers that send thin streams of water into the air. But oscillating sprinklers do work better on smaller, rectangular yards.
  • Never give your yard just a "sip" of water, thinking that it's better than nothing. That encourages shallow rather than healthier deep roots.
  • Don't overwater, either. If water puddles or is streaming off the yard, you're simply wasting water.
  • Attach a water timer to your hose, and set it each time you water. Once you know how long to water, a water timer will do the thinking for you. You won't have to worry about shutting off the water at the right time.
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