Grass needs water in order to grow, but there is such a thing as over-watering, which can actually contribute to the development of fungus and diseases in your lawn. To reduce loss of evaporation, it is best to water your lawn between 4 A.M. and 9 A.M., when the air is still cool and the wind is at its calmest. You may have a couple of spots that require more water than the rest of the lawn, water those by hand to prevent over-watering the rest of your lawn.
- Turn off your sprinkler system before/during/after a good rain. Experts say a good rule of thumb is that your lawn needs ¾ of an inch of water per week. If we get a good rain, turn your sprinkler off for at least a week. Rainwater is the best ingredient for a healthy lawn. The last thing you want to do is wash it away or dilute it with chemically treated water. Watering a lawn during a rain storm is on my top 5 list of “most wasteful things you can do.” I still have memories (and pictures) of driving around town the day before Hurricane Ike hit and seeing countless sprinkler systems flooding the streets as if they were trying to prove something.
- Water deep, not often, part 1. When you do water, make sure you are giving your lawn a good soaking. As I mentioned in tip #1, your grass grows best with about ¾ of one inch of rain or water per week. You don’t need to go out and buy a digital lawn probe, a pH testing kit or an expensive rain gauge. You’ve got better things to do than monitor soil samples. But, since not all sprinkler systems are created equal, you may need to do a little experiment. Here’s the easy way: Find a coffee can or Tupperware container that has a flat bottom and sides that go straight up and set it in your yard. Turn on your sprinkler system for 20 minutes. Measure the depth of the water in the can. Adjust accordingly. Still too much for you to handle? Here’s the really easy way: After watering, stick a screwdriver into the ground 5-6 inches deep. Is it wet?
- Water deep, not often, part 2. The people that sell sprinkler systems tell you to water for 15 minutes 3, 4, sometimes 7 days a week. Why? Because they sell expensive timers that have 8 zones and 3 independent programs and all that stuff that you need because watering the lawn is so complicated, right? Here’s the truth: Watering frequently only makes your lawn weak. St. Augustine grass naturally extends its roots and runners to seek out water, and that’s what gives it that beautiful carpet-like appearance. If you give it what it wants every day, it doesn’t need to go anywhere. If you make it “exercise,” it builds a stronger root system and creates more “overlap”, which smothers out weeds. Your lawn can easily go 14 days without a single drop of water.
- For those of us without sprinkler systems, watering is a bit more of a chore. But, like I said in tip #3, your lawn can go two weeks without water, maybe longer. According to turfgrass.com, our lawns only need about 43 inches a year to survive, and we get approximately 48 inches of rainfall a year, so in a perfect world, we wouldn’t ever need to water our lawn with city water. But, the reality is that we usually get big downpours and go through periods of drought, so the water isn’t evenly spaced. Just take notice when your lawn starts to wilt, or doesn’t spring back when you walk on it, that you need to start thinking about putting some water on it. You have a few days before it gets to a catastrophic level, so check the forecast and plan accordingly. Turn the kids loose with the water hose and toys, and make a family day of it. Watering the lawn is like washing the car, so do us all a favor and make it rain!
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