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How to Properly Water Your Turf

Properly watering your lawn is critical to its overall health. A healthy lawn is easily attainable with these tips.

Properly Watering Your Turf

Your lawn, as part of your home, shows who you are to the world. It makes sense you’d want to present the best possible view to neighbors and friends! So when it comes to watering your lawn, giving it the care best suited to your lawn’s specific needs makes sense. Here’s how to water your turf based on our personal experience. 

Watering Established Lawns

To conserve water with established (or non-new) lawns, consider watering as needed rather than on a set schedule. Look for signs that determine if your grass is affected by excess heat or dryness. This includes your grass blades appearing rolled up and them taking on a straw-like appearance with a blueish-green color. If footprints or mower tracks remain for at least half an hour, you should water (this is true for all turf types).

Both cool-season turfs (like Fescue and Bluegrass) and warm-season turfs (like Bermuda, Zoysia and Centipede) can experience signs of heat or dry stress. There is a misconception that warm-season turf does not need to be watered or will not receive heat or dry stress. However, all turf types can show signs of stress in different stages and areas of your lawn.  

Ideally, you should water to moisten at least the top 2- to 8-inches of soil, where the majority of the turf’s root system is located. Sandy soils require lighter, more frequent watering since they do not maintain soil moisture like clay soils. For clay soils, it is better to water deeply and less frequently to encourage deep root growth and an overall healthier stand of turf.

When to Water Your Lawn

The best time to water your lawn is in the early morning hours, between 3 AM and 7 AM when temperatures are cooler and the evaporation rate is lower. Avoid watering between 9 PM and 1 AM. Watering at these times can extend the time your grass leaves are wet, which could increase disease issues such as Brown Patch Fungus.

How Often and How Long to Water

How long and how often your lawn needs to be watered will vary depending on several factors. These variables include: 

  • How many days your lawn has gone without natural rain 
  • The amount of rain received over a one-week period
  • How hot and windy it has been 
  • How many gallons a minute your watering system produces 
  • The size of your lawn 
  • Newly seeded or sod vs. old turf
  • The amount of sun or shade your lawn receives  

The goal is to water 3 to 4 days a week, applying roughly 1- to 1.5-inches of water over a period of one week under normal weather conditions. More irrigation will be required on hot and breezy days to maintain your lawn’s health. Be careful not to overwater, though. Watering past the point of runoff is wasteful and does not benefit the turf. Clay soils tend to runoff sooner than sand or loam soils. For clay soil, water just before the runoff threshold. Allow time for the water to soak in — about thirty to sixty minutes — and water the same area again.

Seeded or sodded lawns will require daily light watering to keep the soil moist for extended periods of time. Deep watering is not as important for them.

What’s the Right Amount of Water for Your Lawn?

Place a 1-inch tall can (for instance, most tuna cans are 1-inch tall) in an area your irrigation reaches. Run your irrigation system or sprinkler and monitor how long it takes to fill to a quarter or half of the can. Use this figure to determine the 1- to 1.5-inch weekly irrigation. 

Additionally, there are irrigation measuring cup kits available online. Follow the directions for that particular kit if you choose to use that instead of our DIY method above.

Lawn Care from the Pros

Ready to get your lawn in top shape? Get in touch with us for a free estimate on the health of your lawn as well as whether it’s currently over- or underwatered. We’re happy to help you find answers to attaining a healthy lawn!