Watering your lawn often can turn out to be too much of a good thing. If your lawn is made of warm-season grass, such as zoysia or Bermuda, you’ll need between a half-inch to three-quarter inches of water every few weeks. Cool season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass, need to be watered every five days or so. Excess water can interfere with the way your grass grows and makes it easier for diseases and pests to ruin the lawn.
Thatch, which is made of decomposed plant materials, stolons and roots, forms on the soil’s surface. Watering too much prevents the necessary organisms from breaking the thatch down. This leads to shallow root development and causes the thatch to accumulate even more. If the thatch on your lawn is more than three-quarter inches thick, the roots will be deprived of oxygen, and your lawn will become a breeding ground for pests and fungus. Spacing out your watering times keeps the thatch from becoming too thick and allows the roots to grow deep. Remove thick thatch with a rotary mower attachment or power rake in the early part of spring.
If you overwater your lawn, the grass will remain wet for a longer period of time, and this will lead to fungal growth. This can cause mushrooms to grow. If you notice your grass is getting a reddish-orange tint to it, this is a sign that rust fungus is growing on it. At a temperature of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, anthracnose can infect wet grass and cause brown patches to appear in various spots on your lawn. You may also notice that spiked structures will start to form on the blades if the lawn is getting too much water. However, by reducing the amount of water you put on the grass, you can remedy these symptoms, and, in most cases, you won’t have to apply fungicides to the lawn.
There are some weeds, such as yellow nutsedge and smooth crabgrass, that thrive in areas that receive too much water. The moisture can sometimes overwhelm the grass and make it hard for the lawn to grow healthily. Crabgrass can get up to 6 inches tall and will create light green clumps on the top of the soil. Yellow nutsedge is also light green and has pointed leaves that can grow to about 3 feet high. It is spread by stems that are underground. To avoid dense grass growth, it’s best to pull the weeds and spread out your watering times. The soil should also be moistened only up to 8 inches deep.
Pests and Insects
If your lawn is waterlogged, you’ll likely see heavy thatch, which means that insects will be able to hide in your lawn, thus shielding them from insecticides. You won’t be able to get rid of them, even when treating your lawn. Cutworms and armyworms thrive in thatch, and these creatures create irregular patches in your grass by chewing on the base of the blades.
The Effects of Overwatering
If you water your lawn every day, or every other day, the grass is getting far too much water. The roots will drown because the plant won’t know what to do with the excess water. Daily watering means the pores of the grass will be filled with water instead of oxygen, and this may cause the lawn to wither. Grass needs oxygen to grow and maintain its color.
Watering too much can also make the roots shallow, which will also deprive your grass of oxygen. Even though you can’t see the roots, they are an important part of the lawn. They need to be deep in the soil to make the lawn look its best. You’ll also need to apply new fertilizer since you’ve likely washed it away. One application is enough, and this should be applied as soon as you see your grass changing color.
Don’t make the mistake of setting the sprinkler system one time in the spring and thinking this will keep the lawn beautiful. Instead, consider the dryness of the soil. The soil’s moisture level is determined by air temperature, as well as humidity and wind speed. Soil moisture also depends on the type of soil and the condition of the grass. You should also consider the amount of rainfall that you receive to make sure you’re not giving the lawn too much water.
When you do water the lawn, make sure that it is thorough. Only water the lawn just enough so the soil encounters water. For instance, if the soil is only dry 3 inches down, water the grass long enough for the water to reach 3 inches deep. You can use a garden trowel and a ruler to dig into the soil and make sure you’re not overwatering.
Looking for Signs
When you walk on your lawn, you can see signs that your grass needs to be watered. If your grass needs water, it will have a bluish tint to it and the leaves will be noticeably narrow. If your grass is too dry, your footprints will remain in the grass for a significant period. If you see these symptoms, be sure to water the grass as soon as possible.
Remember that watering every day isn’t ideal. Schedule a time to water your lawn based on the type of grass you have and the condition of the soil. If your lawn is divided into zones, check each zone separately and water the zone that needs it first. If it rains in your area and you have to stop watering, begin again with the first zone that needed water once the soil has dried.
Being a little more particular about how you water your lawn may seem like a task at first, but once you get used the schedule, it will become easier. Remember, the grass won’t die if you feel you aren’t giving it enough water, but you could damage your lawn severely by adding too much.