If that beautiful lush green lawn feels like it is just a little out of reach. Don’t worry the science behind thick lush grass is about to seem much easier. Most of it comes down to water and nutrient control.
Spring brings nice and relatively cool temperatures and a lot of rain generally. Two things that encourage grass growth and root health if they occur in moderation. As summer comes in the weather gets hotter and the chance of rain in most cases decreases. Water is the key to life and new lawns need more. So how much and when should we be watering our yards, and is the water bill going to break the bank?
Check the Forecast
First, the weather if your lawn starts looking brown keep an eye on the forecast. You don’t want to waste the time or money watering if it’s going to rain the next day. We have control of our sprinklers but not Mother Nature. Too much water can be just as detrimental as no water. Our lawns need 1”-1 ½” of water per week every week summer or winter.
This is where rain gauges become handy. Apps are great and get pretty close these days, but knowing how much your specific lawn gets exactly can be a big help. They are fairly cheap or if you don’t want to run out and buy one it can always be improvised. A small old bowl, can or even a cut-down bottle will work just fine. Use a measuring cup to mark levels on your chosen container and you have a rain gauge.
Keep an eye on your grass if Mother Nature isn’t providing a lot of rain. When you notice that it’s a dull green color and footprints or other tracks are leaving indentations in your lawn for more than 30 minutes it is a good sign that the grass is too dry.
When to Water
Whether you choose to water in the morning or the evening make sure that your lawn is not in direct sunlight.
Between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. is a good time to water because there is less wind and the sun has not fully risen. This will help reduce evaporation and help sprinklers apply water more evenly. Along with providing your yard with water throughout the hottest part of the day.
4 p.m. to 7 p.m. is a fairly common time for most people to water, it tends to be when most of us have the time to do it after work. These are also good hours because the sun is setting and temperatures are beginning to drop. Experts, however, warn that in some climates watering at night may cause mildew and fungus, due to less wind grassroots receive less air flow.
6 p.m. to 10 a.m. is the golden ticket time when experts recommend lawns be watered in humid climates. Timers and irrigation systems can help fit this ideal time frame into a busy schedule. If you choose a battery-powered time be sure to periodically check the batteries and be sure to remove them for winter storage so they don’t corrode and destroy the device.
Timers are a great way to control when watering begins and how long it lasts. A timer is a great tool if you have an irregular schedule and conserve water. They can however be pricey depending on the features that one may want. The options begin with a hardwired system or battery operated and range of the intervals of time that you may want one to operate on. A cheap one is just fine and no matter what you choose.
How Long to Water
The amount of time that every homeowner spends watering will vary. Factors like water pressure, soil content, and grass type all play a role in how long a lawn will need to be watered. It may only take 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Don’t overwater so that there is water puddling in your lawn, over water may cause mildew or fungus. A soil probe that measures moisture can be picked up at most lawn and garden centers and they are fairly cheap.
It’s About the Roots
The grassroots that is. In the end, the most important thing to know about growing a healthy lawn is to get all of that precious water down to the roots of the grass. A good root base is what makes healthy grass. To build roots they need deep infrequent watering. Watering every day will make the roots shallow and they will be more dependent on the water every single day. This will lead to unhealthy grass that is prone to disease and unable to handle the traffic.
Sprinklers are a lifesaver but require a lot of attention. Finding one that you like may be difficult. They don’t always spread the water evenly and may need to be moved around. In some cases, this takes away from the convenience of having a timer. But it is important to be observant and make sure the water is going where it is supposed to evenly. Standing puddles of water in your lawn can weaken the root system.
Leaving your grass a little bit tall in the heat of the summer will help protect the roots. The longer grass blades will act as shields and hold the moisture in preventing evaporation. It’s also a good idea to mow in a different direction from time to time. Mowing in the same pattern every time may stress your lawn with the extra traffic.
Heavy traffic lawns with lots of activity from pets children or parties will require more water than lawns that don’t have a lot of activity on them.
Keep your grass green and your grassroots healthy for a picture-perfect lawn.