How to water your lawn

Like every plant, grass needs water. But you really want to water the soil, which is the reservoir for the roots, rather than the blades themselves. Follow these easy steps to keeping your grass healthy and green.

How to water your lawn

1. How much water is needed?

Sprinkling the grass lightly every few days does more harm than good, because water never has a chance to sink deep into the soil. As grass roots rise to the surface to seek water rather than reaching deeply into the soil, the lawn quickly succumbs to drought and summer heat.

  • Lawns need at least 2.5 centimetres (one inch) of water per week.
  • Let the soil, light, and climate be your guide. Heavy clay soil holds moisture longer than sandy soil, which lets water pass right through.
  • And lawns in light shade or cool climates will stay moist longer than those baking in sun in a warm climate.
  • It's time to irrigate when the blades wilt or lose their springiness when you step on them.
  • You can also check the need for water by digging up a little plug of turf.
  • If the soil is moist, there's no need to water, and you can simply push the plug back into its hole. If it's dry, apply water.

2. Lawn sprinklers

Lawn sprinklers are the most convenient way to cover large areas. Automatic impulse systems are the most efficient but are expensive to install and may not be necessary in regions that usually have plentiful rainfall. If you have a portable surface sprinkler that revolves or oscillates, make sure it is in good condition so that the coverage is as even as possible.

Whatever type you use, the goal is to water slowly and deeply, so that moisture has a chance to sink to the roots, about 10 to 15 centimetres (four to six inches) deep, without running off or pooling.

  1. Water early in the morning on a still day, so that grass blades can dry off before sunset and water is not blown away from its target.
  2. Never water at midday, when much of the moisture is lost to evaporation before it hits the soil and wet grass can burn in the sun.
  3. To gauge the amount of water reaching the lawn, scatter several small cans beneath the sprinkler, each marked with a line 2.5 centimetres (one inch) up from the bottom of the can.
  4. Note how long the sprinkler must run to fill the can to the line. That's the amount of time you should run the sprinkler when watering in the future.

3. Drought

  • During drought, when municipal ordinances often prohibit lawn watering, don't worry. Most grasses simply go dormant and will spring back to life when moisture returns.
  • In arid regions, where every drop of water is precious, consider planting a drought-tolerant grass species, such as buffalo grass.
  • You can also cover as much space as desired with drought-tolerant groundcovers, such as low-growing shrubs, perennials, or even herbs, such as thyme or lavender, which thrive in arid places.
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