How Often Should You Really Irrigate Your Lawn?

Cortada Landscape Design | Irrigation/Sprinkler System for Key Biscayne Yacht Club

Now that the warm weather is here, it’s important to keep your lawn looking healthy with proper irrigation. Different forms of grass and types of soil require different amounts of water, but on average, your lawn will need about an inch and a half of water weekly to stay green. Of course, some of this water comes from rainfall, but you’ll also need to have an irrigation system in place. The climate in your region as well as local water restrictions and the amount of sunlight your lawn receives all play a role in setting an irrigation schedule. Here are some tips to help you maintain the look of your lawn or revive your grass to make the exterior of your home more inviting.

When Should Your Water Your Lawn?

The morning is ideal for watering the lawn since the air is cooler. During the morning, wind is less likely to blow droplets of water from the blades of grass. If you water the lawn in the afternoon, the water will evaporate too quickly, and if you water the grass in the evening, the water will cling to your grass and stay there throughout the night, which makes it easier for fungus to grow. If you find that you don’t have the time to water the grass in the morning before heading to work, it’s best to irrigate the lawn between the hours of 4am and 10am on a weekend morning.

How Deep Should You Water the Lawn?

It’s important to water your grass enough so that the moisture reaches six inches down into the soil. This is the depth of a thriving grass root system, and you can check this by inspecting the soil every 15 minutes or so during the initial watering.  Just lift the sod with a shovel to see how much of the soil is moist.

It’s also a good idea to time how long it takes for the water to get deep into the ground. Then, water for this length of time each time you turn on the hose. This amount of time varies for each soil type.

What’s the Best Type of Watering System?

Built-in sprinklers are best for watering your lawn. This is often the most efficient way to make sure that all the grass is evenly watered. Generally, a sprinkler system is a great investment if you plan on staying in your home for more than a few years.

You can also design an irrigation system that is positioned under surface level to distribute water thoroughly. Sprinkler heads that are low-angle and low-volume are best, since they deliver water close to turf, which means that the grass will only use a minimal amount of water due to evaporation. If you see fog or mist coming from the sprinkler heads, turn the water pressure down. You may also have to adjust the water pressure over the summer to make sure there is a steady stream of water reaching the grass.

If you don’t have an irrigation system and you’d prefer not to purchase one, you can also use a sprinkler that pulsates and revolves. This is a good choice for lawns where the grass has grown consistently for a few seasons. With pulsating sprinkler systems, the water is distributed horizontally at a high speed, which keeps water from being lost through evaporation and wind.  If you have a new lawn, oscillating sprinklers are the better choice because the grass hasn’t fully taken root yet. The water from an oscillating sprinkler shoots directly up into the air, unlike pulsating sprinklers, and isn’t strong enough to push the grass seed. Since it doesn’t put too much pressure on the grass, it allows your grass to grow steadily.

A hose-end sprinkler is also ideal for lawns that are small or medium in size. Research a few sprinklers to see which one is best for the shape and size of your lawn. Usually, sprinklers irrigate in the shape of a rectangle.

It’s also important that you turn off manual sprinklers when they’re not in use. You can remember to turn the sprinkler off by setting a timer on your watch or oven so that you won’t use too much water. You can find sprinkler timers that connect to the spigot or the hose that allow you to set your manual system to irrigate at the times you specify. As you’ll likely be watering the lawn more in the warmer months of the year, frequent irrigation that is not too deep is best. This encourages your grass to grow deep roots and keeps the grass healthy without a lot of maintenance.

Look at new irrigation technology as well to make sure your lawn is properly watered. Stream sprays, also known as rotary nozzles, administer water to your turf slowly and evenly. This type of irrigation is best for slopes in your lawn or garden or anywhere where you want a steady stream of water that isn’t too forceful. These types of nozzles are specially designed to work with low water pressure, which makes them great for homes where the water pressure is between 20 and 55 psi. Even when the water pressure is high, rotary nozzles won’t revert to fog or mist.

Irrigation for Your Soil Type

If you have clay soil, you should water the lawn once a week, but if the soil has a sandy consistency, watering every three days or so is best. While some people think that it’s efficient to water their garden plants and their lawn at the same time, it’s important to remember that plants need about 15 minutes of water every day depending on the weather and type of plant. This amount of water is too much for a lawn. More water isn’t necessarily better because if the soil can’t soak up the water before you water again, this could lead to root rot. The goal is to train your grass roots to go as deep into the soil as possible. In the summer, watering every three to seven days may be best to make sure that the grass blades and soil don’t get too dry.

Additional Options

Depending on the type of grass you have, you can allow your grass to go dormant the same way it would in the winter. This is also applicable if you live in a particularly dry area and you have plants that need to be watered, but the lawn area is mostly rock décor. If you have the right variety of grass and don’t need lots of water on your yard, the blades won’t be harmed. Just remember that if you allow the grass to go dormant, wait until the following season to start watering again as stopping and starting the watering process can be hard on your grass blades. Letting the grass be dormant is also fine if you’re not in an area that is experiencing a severe drought.

Under normal weather conditions, the grass will be revived after a good rainfall. If the top soil is removed from the lawn in your condo or apartment complex and you have less space to work with, watering in stages in best. You can also water the lawn in stages so that the water can work its way down at a slow pace. Water the lawn for half an hour, let the water soak in, then water for another 30 minutes.