When my I first saw my family’s new home, I was awestruck by the beautiful rich, green lawn that surrounded it. Not only did the lawn add to the property’s appeal but I enjoyed imaging myself smiling as I did the lawn care – the lawn watering, the lawn mowing, etc.
Then reality set in.
Lawn irrigation is not as simple as you may have been led to believe. Keeping your grass looking healthy and lovely is a challenge but for most homeowners, including myself, it’s a labor of love and well worth the effort, particularly if you want to maintain a high property value and amazing curb appeal for your home.
But no matter how much you love your lawn, knowing some good tips for proper lawn watering will make your job a great deal easier.
Let’s start with the biggest question: How often should I water my lawn? The answer, as I discovered, depends on where you live and on the season. If you wait too long, your grass will start to brown and die – not an attractive look. If you water too often, you can overly saturate the ground and increase your water bills – not a great choice either.
Generally, you need to water more often in the spring and in the summer than in the fall and the winter. During those warmer months, a good watering every five days works great. After my family and I moved into our home, I became obsessed with watering my new lawn nearly every day manually (more about that choice later) until a more experienced neighbor told me I really wasn’t doing anything but wasting water most of those days. I was skeptical, but his lawn looked fabulous so I trusted him and started watering less often. It turned out he was right.
Then a year later we had a very dry summer and my grass started looking horrible well before the fifth day arrived. So keep in mind that if your grass is showing signs of dehydration – basically looking wilted – you might need to water more frequently than normal.
Another important question is when is the best time to water lawns. One thing a neighbor of ours learned the hard way was how important it is to follow your local restrictions about lawn irrigation. His automatic sprinklers were set to water his lawn during the afternoon while he was at work, at least until he was cited by our local government. That means you really need to know, understand, and adhere to any local guidelines in place in your area.
Besides those guidelines, you’ll get the best results from your lawn watering by waiting until the early morning hours and on non-windy days when the water is going to be blown away from your lawn. You don’t want to end up watering your neighbor’s yard or having all of that precious water evaporate in the hot sun before it can sink into your soil.
Now let’s talk about how much water you need for proper lawn irrigation. To be healthy, your lawn probably needs about 2 inches of water every 5 to 7 days and that includes rain. My lawn was growing from a clay-type soil which requires less watering than some other types of soil so when I followed these basic rules I ended up overwatering. After I did some research, I realized the best rule of thumb is to water enough to soak the lawn but not to leave puddling or cause run-off.
Finally, we can’t end a discussion of lawn watering without touching on the different systems available. Initially, my family relied on the manual sprinklers the past owners had installed. We thought it would work great, but we had to monitor those sprinklers all the time. A slight jostle would move the spray of water so it would drench our driveway not our lawn. During that first summer, patches of our grass were browning despite the watering because those sections were untouched by the sprinklers.
A better choice, as my family now knows, is to install an underground, automatic sprinkler system. You’ll conserve water, cover your entire lawn evenly, and never have to worry about forgetting to turn on the sprinklers.
Having a home surrounded by a vast and healthy green lawn is something to be proud of and once you understand how to handle your lawn irrigation effectively, you’ll be well on your way to having a lawn you’ll be proud to show off to your neighbors.