Proper Lawn Watering
This is the reason why sprinkler systems often cause more harm than good. They typically come on far too often and for too little time to effectively penetrate into the soil.
This is one of the more crucial aspects to maintaining the overall health of your lawn and yet it is the most misunderstood.
How much water do I use? There is only one rule of thumb that bears out for every lawn and that is this, “Begin when the soil has dried out well into the root zone. The higher cut lawns should have deeper root systems, so you can let them dry out more deeply between watering"(1.)
This encourages the roots to grow downward in search of moisture, resulting in a healthier and hardier lawn. “The visual clues are when you can see your footprints long after walking through the grass and the other is when you observe that the grass blades are folding in half length wise in an attempt to conserve moisture“.
On most general turf grass areas the time to apply moisture is just as the grass begins to show signs of wilting. Frequent shallow watering tends to keep the upper layers of soil near a point of saturation most of the time. “This encourages shallow rooting and promotes weak turf which is susceptible to disease and insect attack as well as damage from traffic.
It also encourages moisture loving weeds such as poa annua.” (2) If your soil becomes too dried out for too long it will go into dormancy as a survival instinct (or may just die off all together.
The only way for you to know if your lawn has been adequately watered is for you to take a garden shovel and stick it in the ground and wiggle it enough so that you can see at least four inches below the surface. If you have watered enough, it should be moist three to four inches below the surface. If it isn’t, you haven’t watered enough.
I can only shake my head when I drive by and see someone standing outside watering their lawn with a garden hose. Once your lawn has been watered adequately, there is no need to water until it has dried out again.
The best time to water your lawn is in the early morning after sun-up because it allows for water to penetrate the surface while minimizing the effects of evaporation.
The worst time to water is when it is dark because the conditions are prime for fungus disease. You can tell by a yellowing and thinning of the grass. There is an old fallacy that still is talked of that says you can’t water in the middle of the day because it will burn the grass. Well, when you think of it water tends to cool, not burn. Watering in the heat of the day may be inefficient but if it is the only time you can water it, don’t hesitate.
(1) “Building A Healthy Lawn”, A Safe and Natural Approach. Stuart Franklin, Garden Way Publishing
(2) “Lawn Beauty”, The Organic Way. By the Editors of Organic Gardening, Rodale Press
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