Grass, like any other living creature, needs a balance of water and nutrition. Therefore, it follows that the health of your lawn depends heavily on your lawn receiving the right amount of moisture. If the weather has been dry and hot but you just let your lawn go the look and health of your lawn can suffer. The quality of your soil, how well it is aerated, and type of grass all play important roles in how much water your lawn needs, and how best to care for your lawn. However, there are some basic guidelines you can follow to help your lawn no mater what the specifics.
Water your lawn in the morning. While time of day might not seem all that important, it can make a big difference. Mornings tend to be fairly cool and calm in comparison to the rest of the day. Humidity is generally higher in the morning as well. That combination means that water will not evaporate into the atmosphere as quickly as it would at midday. Watering in the morning also allows for plenty of time for your soil to absorb the water and dry a little before nightfall. A wet lawn during the night can aid in the spread and propagation of several lawn diseases. While nature will often water the lawn for you late in the day or early evening, it is best for us to do any watering as early in the day as possible.
The ideal lawn has root growth that goes at least six inches deep; though the deeper the roots go the better. Watering the lawn properly is key in making this happen. When you water, make sure that the water soaks in through the first six to eight inches of soil. However, watering your lawn so that water goes any deeper wastes water, since grass roots generally do not go any deeper. If you water only the top few inches of soil then that is as far as the roots will spread. Shallow roots caused by this kind of watering can lead to a lawn that dries out quickly and needs more care in the end. You can check how deep the water is going by probing the ground with a soil probe, long screwdriver or other long straight object. The probe will move easily through wet soil and stop or become more difficult to move when it hits dry soil. If you need to water in stages, you can check the depth of wet soil at several different spots during different times during the process.
If the water runs off your soil and puddles elsewhere when you attempt to water long enough to let the water soak in deeply there are solutions. If you apply water faster than the lawn can absorb it then that water will end up in street gutters or elsewhere. Wasting water like that is never a good thing. It is a common problem with sprinkler systems, packed soil or heavy clay soils. First, try watering for about ten to fifteen minutes, taking a break or moving to a different area. After some time has past water again and repeat the process until the water has soaked down to the appropriate depth. After doing this enough times you will learn the pattern best for your lawn and have to do less testing to gauge depth of the water absorbed in your soil. If you have a lot of trouble with water not absorbing you might need to aerate your lawn or add loam, or other organic materials, to improve your soil’s health and ability to absorb water.
Allow your law to dry out partially between waterings. Not to the point of brown dry grass and blowing dust, but enough to allow your soil to absorb its next dose of water and maintain a balanced moisture to air ratio. You can learn to tell by a simple walk through your lawn when it is getting dry. When your lawn is in need of water it will not spring back into place after walking across it, instead you will be able to look behind you and see your footprints in the grass. The grass will also become a duller shade sometimes of green, sometimes with a smoky bluish gray tint. If you do not trust your instincts or eye, you can use a probe to see how dry your soil is or invest in soil moisture gauge. The gauge is a great little tool for those that love gadgets, and will leave no doubt, as to when your lawn is in need of watering.
There are several factors to keep in mind while watering your lawn. Shaded areas will need less water than areas that get full sun. The type of grass, weather, slope and density of your soil also play their part in how much water your lawn will need. In the summer and stretches of warm weather your lawn will need more water than during the cooler spring and fall. The most important thing is to work with your lawn. If it seems to need more frequent or longer waterings than you expected you will need to make those adjustments to keep your grass health and looking its best. If your lawn does not dry out enough between waterings then give the lawn more time between your waterings. Making adjustments to fit the needs of the grass is as important as watering in the first place. Keep in mind that if you have recently seeded your lawn or laid sod then there are completely different standards to follow. A new, young lawn has different needs than a more mature established lawn.