Having the best lawn on the block is something that comes with a lot of sacrifice.
By sacrifice here, we mean a lot of effort and a lot of knowledge turned to practice. When it comes to great looks and a healthy lawn, watering is one of the main practices that every lawn owner should focus on.
Watering your lawn is something that sounds simple. However, with all of the different grass types, new seed varieties and seasons, it can be really difficult to know how, when and how often to water your lawn.
This is why our Pennsylvania lawn experts at Green Turf Care decided to share their knowledge and help you achieve the best looking lawn on the block.
Quick Tips On Watering Your Lawn
Before we get into detail about all the different techniques of watering your lawn, let’s share some quick tips on why your lawn needs water and what’s the best practice for optimal watering.
- Every lawn needs at least 1” to 1 ½” of water per week, all year round (including the winter season)
- When watering your lawn, you should go deeply and water 2-3 times per week (instead of daily)
- Ideally, you should water early in the morning or in the afternoon (when possible)
- If you cannot push a 6” screwdriver into your lawn, you are not watering it enough
- Every lawn needs more water in the heat, especially if you have a fescue lawn
- Don’t water your lawn so much that it runs down the street
- If you use automatic sprinklers for watering, make sure to check them regularly and ensure optimal coverage
- If any brown areas in your lawn don’t respond to the (frequent) watering, look for other potential problems
A Healthy Lawn Is A Properly Watered One
Even though this is not something that will surprise you, knowing how often to turn on the sprinklers is something that every lawn owner should focus on.
Also, lawn watering in Pennsylvania is something that is easier said than done. Below, we are covering the basics of lawn watering so that you can maintain a vivid and green grass.
First of all…
It is important to remember that lawn care is not something that you focus on in spring and summer only. Instead, it is a year round process and your grass needs at least 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week – even in the winter!
Obviously, every lawn needs more water in the summer, especially when the temperatures are higher and there is no rainfall. If there is some rainfall, remember that it counts as water for your lawn and be careful not to overdo it with your sprinklers when you get precipitation.
Speaking of which, let’s see what overwatering your lawn will result in.
The Dangers Of Overwatering Your Lawn
Proper watering practices greatly improve the quality of your lawn. However, the truth is that a lot of people tend to over water their lawns. The truth is, it can be hard to tell whether your grass has gotten the one inch per day minimum. Also, water requirements may vary between different grass types which is why you may want to hire a Pennsylvania lawn care expert.
If you accidentally over water your lawn, you can expect the following:
- A shallow root system: Overwatering causes the roots to drown and fail to absorb oxygen. When roots become weak thanks to the lack of oxygen, they are also more prone to diseases and insect infestation. The lawn may start turning yellow, too.
- Growth of weeds: Healthy grass in well watered soil discourages the growth of weeds. Still, overwatering of lawns promotes the growth of weeds in some types of grasses. Also, weeds like crabgrass tend to grow in overwatered areas.
- Suffocating your plants: The soil has a lot of holes and penetrating spaces which are naturally designed to receive oxygen. If you over water your lawn, the oxygen is pushed out of the soil leading to grass dying due to lack of it.
- Pollution: The water contains excess chemicals, which may run off into the storm water system and pollute the nearby streams of rivers. The same can happen to the fertilizer applied during watering.
So, How And When To Water The Lawn For Optimal Results?
At this point, you know some of the basics for lawn watering – and the dangers of overwatering your lawn.
However, the first step that you need to do when starting this practice is to determine your soil type. After all, this is what affects both how much and how often you should water your lawn. To do this, you can buy a soil test kit or consult a lawn care professional.
Next up, you should learn about the best time for watering your lawn. We all live busy lives – but when it comes to our lawns – it is safe to say that they ideally need water early in the morning. This is the best solution and the one that helps you conserve water, as the cooler temperatures mean less evaporation. Plus, you will avoid having wet grass at night (which can lead to fungus and other issues over time).
When it comes to the frequency of your lawn watering, it is better to water your lawn every few days rather than every day. While lawns with clay soil can get away with one watering per week, sandy soil does best with watering every third day. Soils that require multiple waterings per week are ideally watered with a few days between the sessions. This stimulates the root system to grow deeper and helps the grass retain water for a longer period of time – protecting it against diseases.
If you are not sure about how much watering your lawn requires for an inch of water to run through it, the rough math is that it takes a sprinkler system roughly an hour to get an inch of water to every spot. Obviously, you should make sure that the coverage of your sprinklers is ideal.
Tip: If you are still not sure of how long you should leave the sprinklers running, lay an empty can of tuna or cat food cans in your lawn, run your sprinklers and time how long it takes until there is an inch of water in them.
Watering New Grass Seed: How Often To Do It?
New grass seeds greatly benefit from watering and proper lawn care.
In fact, you should establish a proper watering schedule and turn your lawn into the lush green grass that you have always wanted. To do that, you should know that new grass seed needs water in several intervals.
The first interval is a couple of days before planting your new seed – when you should water the area to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Use a screwdriver to see if the lawn is properly watered in that length.
After you lay the new grass seed, daily watering is a must. The best times to water the grass seed is in the morning and evening (the coolest parts of the day).
How to water your new grass seed depends on the area that you have seeded. While large areas benefit from the use of a quality rectangular sprinkler, smaller seeded areas can be perfectly watered by small spot sprinklers too.
How Long Does Grass Seed Take To Grow?
This is a common question that homeowners have – but there is no right or wrong answer. A beautiful and vibrant lawn can take anywhere between 3 and 28 days to begin to grow.
Diagnosing: How To See If Your Lawn Is Getting Adequate Levels Of Water?
There are a lot of ways to see if your lawn is getting the adequate levels of water. One of the methods is the so-called screwdriver test which we mentioned above.
Basically, you should take one screwdriver from 6” to 8” long and stick it into your soil. If it is not getting in the soil smoothly, your lawn obviously needs more watering.
Some signs your lawn needs more watering:
- After walking across your lawn, you can see footprints in the grass
- Your grass turns from vibrant green to a bluish-gray color
- Some of the leaf blades start to wilt
Some signs your lawn is getting too much water:
- The water from your sprinkler system runs into the street and down your gutters (this may also suggest that you need to adjust your sprinkler heads)
- Damp lawn (overwatered lawns can sometimes display the same symptoms as under watered ones) so make sure to check if it feels damp before turning your sprinklers
Now, let’s move on to the part covering the different types of lawns and how much water each of them requires.
Watering Different Types Of Lawns
You should never rely solely on Mother Nature to do the watering of your lawn – especially not during the first year of your lawn’s growth. Additional irrigation should always be part of your watering.
Speaking of, when watering a newly seeded lawn, the key is to keep the top inch of soil consistently moist, but not soggy. This means that you will likely need to mist the seeded area once or twice per day.
Once the seeds start germinating, the goal is to keep the top 2 inches of soil moist until the new grass reaches a mowing height of around 3 inches. After this, you should start cutting back watering to twice per week and soak the soil even deeper (6 to 8 inches) to encourage the grass roots to grow deep in the soil.
Tips for watering cool-season grasses:
- Tall-fescue is a lawn that has a deep root system and probably the highest drought tolerance of all cool-season grass types.
- If your lawn is a mix of a Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fine fescue, it may go dormant during drought if it is left unwatered. However, it will revive (re-green) when the rain returns.
Tips for watering warm-season grasses:
- Warm-season grasses are known for their unique requirements. They require less water than cool-season grasses, but still vary based on the region where they are located (mainly because of the differences in rainfall and summer/winter temperatures).
- Grasses such as Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bermuda grass and Centipede grass develop
deeper root systems which makes them stronger in withstanding drought.
Watering Basics For Established Lawns
We all know that water is a valuable resource to plants and organisms and it should be used as efficiently as possible. The amount of water that an established lawn requires and receives will help determine its overall health, beauty, drought resistance as well as its ability to withstand use.
The healthiest established lawns are produced when they are watered heavily at infrequent intervals. Also, it is important for the lawn to completely dry out between the watering intervals.
Proper Watering Techniques For Turfgrass Lawns
Turf grass lawns can benefit from several different systems which will provide additional water – especially if the grass is located near buildings or other heat-reflecting surfaces.
In such cases, we recommend installing in-ground irrigation systems. However, instead of setting them and forgetting them, you should always monitor the work of the system and see if the lawn has gotten the optimal 1 to 1.5 inch of water. If there is rainfall, you should limit or turn off the system – all in order to maximize turf growth from different watering sources.
If you decide to invest in above ground hose-end sprinklers, you should know that there are a lot of choices. However, the good thing is that these solutions are portable and can work well when they are properly placed on the yard and adequately maintained. Whirling, impulse and oscillating sprinklers are all types of good hose-end sprinklers which are optimal for turfgrass lawns and available in a variety of nozzle types to deliver water in the gentlest mist – rather than a spray.
Tip: Sprinklers which don’t throw the water high in the air are usually more efficient and less disruptive of the distribution patterns. The potential for evaporation loss is also reduced and there is a less chance for trees, shrubs and other plants to block the water pattern.
Whatever type of sprinkler you choose, make sure to observe it in action and identify the potential problems which include leaking pipes/hoses, blocked outlets, leaking or missing gaskets or misaligned sprinkler heads.
When To Stop Watering The Lawn In Fall?
You shouldn’t completely stop watering your lawn in fall – at least not until the ground freezes. Once it freezes, it would be pointless to water it since the frozen ground would act as a barrier and block the water’s path to the root zone.
When the ground freezes, the water won’t be able to get to the roots of the plants, no matter how much snow lies on top of it. This is when lawns enter the period known as “dormancy” which is basically a sleep-like state in which they don’t need water.
If you are a homeowner who sees lawn watering as a big responsibility, that is fine. There are a lot of Pennsylvania lawn care services which provide watering as part of their specialty.
However, you should decide what you want from the beginning. The lawn can go dormant just like it does in the winter without harming the grass. But letting it go dormant, then watering and then discontinuing the watering again can be hard on the grass.
This is why you should be serious about lawn watering. A dormant lawn will come back to life after a good rainstorm – but at the end of the day, it is you who needs to make sure that it is healthy and green at all times.
We hope that this article helped you see the importance of lawn watering for specific grasses, lawn types, seasons and other factors. For more information and guides on expert lawn care, visit our blog!