Growing a Healthy Lawn
This summer’s gotten off to a hot start and the sprinklers have been getting a workout. Here are some watering tips to help you maintain a healthy lawn.
Water in the Morning.
Morning is the best time to water the lawn—the air is cooler and usually there’s not much wind to blow the water droplets to areas that don’t need water, like the street. In the middle of the day, water evaporates quickly and doesn’t have a chance to soak into the soil. Evenings are the worst time to water because the water droplets will cling to the grass overnight and can lead to lawn diseases like fungus. If you can't water in the morning before work, you should do it on a weekend morning between 4:00 and 10:00 a.m. before it starts to get hot.
Soak the Soil
Water long enough to moisten the soil 4 – 6 inches down, which is the depth of a healthy grass root system. Depending on your soil type this may be hard to determine so the first time you do water your lawn you may want to check every 30 minutes to see how far the water has seeped into the soil. The best way to so this is to take a shovel and lift up the sod. You’ll only have to do this once and make note of how long to water from thereafter. Each lawn has different soil and you have to water for your property’s solid type. Lawns in new housing developments where the topsoil was removed often have soil so hard water can’t penetrate the surface. If that’s your case, water for 30 minutes, let it soak in, then water for another 30 minutes—if you do it all at once the water will just run off after 30 minutes.
Pulsating vs. Oscillating Sprinklers
Built-in lawn sprinklers are the best system for watering the lawn. It’s efficient and will pay for itself over time, especially if you plan on staying in your home for a few years. For homeowners who don't have an in-ground sprinkler system and don't want to invest in one, a pulsating sprinkler hooked up to the hose is the next best choice for an established lawn, it shoots water horizontally at a high velocity so it's not as vulnerable to wind and evaporation as oscillating types, which spray water straight up.
Go Easy With New Grass
Pulsating sprinklers work great for lawns with mature grass, but for new yards, that intense water stream will wash away grass seed while oscillating sprinklers, since they shoot water up, are a better choice for new lawns until the grass takes root because the water lands much softer. Water Twice a Week, Max Water clay soils once a week soaking and sandy soil about every three days. A lot of homeowners believe they need to water the lawn like they water their plants. Watering for 15 minutes every day doesn’t soak the soil deep enough and leads to a shallow root system that will not survive summer droughts, Fewer waterings encourage the roots to grow deeper. You want to train the roots to go down deep into the soil.
Get a Timer
If you're watching the clock and trying to remember to shut the water off at a certain time, chances are you'll sit down in front of the TV or get busy with other things, like the family or other needs and you’ll forget that the sprinklers are running. So, get a timer, they cost about $10 at the hardware store and shut off the water after a pre-set time to ensure the lawn gets the right amount of water.
Go All In, or Don't Go at All
If you don't want to water your lawn, that's fine, it will just go dormant like it does in the winter without harming the grass, providing there's not a drought longer than a month. However, letting the lawn go dormant, then watering, and then discontinuing the watering again stresses the grass. A dormant lawn will come back to life after a good rainstorm.
Finally, the wheels on your mower are adjustable. As the weather gets hotter you should be raising the mower to let the grass get longer. Longer grass in the summer helps shade the ground to help slow evaporation. I’ve seen too many homeowners cut their grass too short in the summer giving your grass harmful stress which can cause it to go dormant.