Summer’s here. It’s hot. It’s dry. When we do get rain in the form of quick summer thunderstorms, it usually comes down too hard and is over too soon to do any good. Let’s face it, it’s time to get serious about watering your lawn. At BG Outdoor Services, we’ve met many homeowners who rely on Mother Nature to provide the bulk of their watering, even if their grass suffers a bit (or a lot). On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve also met others who overwater. Let’s dispel common myths to get to the root of the matter and address fundamental watering guidelines.
What’s the Right Amount of Water for Your Lawn?
Strategic watering of your lawn is well worth a limited expenditure of a most precious resource, water. However, there are a large number of people who inadvertently but consistently waste water, simply because they’re not doing so correctly. They are often simultaneously wasting water while not giving their lawn enough to thrive in the summer. How is that possible, you ask? You see, most of the folks who overwater have no idea they’re doing it.
The Fundamental Watering Rule
You need to know that it’s not a bad thing for your lawn to dry out somewhat.
“The number one rule for properly watering most plants is to water deeply and infrequently.”
Watering deeply means you want to apply enough water to completely wet the root zone of the plant. For a healthy lawn, that means watering to a depth of three to four inches in order to cultivate resilient root systems.
The key to accomplishing this without much water waste is to minimize runoff. As you’ll notice from quick summer downpours, just because your rain gauge measures an inch of water doesn’t mean your soil could absorb it all. The same is true for running your sprinkler system – once the soil is initially saturated, you need to give it time to soak deeper otherwise you have runoff.
Everyone knows runoff. It’s the water you pay for that ends up in the neighbor’s lawn or the sewer. To minimize it, you need to break your watering into short bursts with time in between to allow the water to soak into the soil. This is the most efficient way to water deeply.
The infrequent part will vary from spring to summer and summer to fall. The best way to judge how frequently you should water is to recognize the first signs of grass getting drought-stressed (and no … it’s not when it turns brown … that’s one of the last signs). The easiest clue to look for is footprints. You see, under normal conditions, you walk across the lawn and the grass that gets squashed underfoot springs right back. In a few minutes, it’s hard to tell where you stepped. Not so if the lawn needs water. The otherwise healthy looking grass will just lie there. You could come back an hour later and likely see where every foot fell. This is due to a loss of turgor pressure in the plant cells which is due … you guessed it … to insufficient water.
The real story about watering your lawn can be summed up by the golden rule: water deeply, but infrequently. If you’re unsure how much water your lawn needs, and need tips to program your sprinkler system or eliminate runoff, reach out to our irrigation system experts. BG Outdoor Services has over 30 years of experience installing, maintaining, repairing, programming and finetuning in-ground sprinkler systems. Reach out to us today to get started.