Watering Your Lawn in the Summer
As temperatures begin to skyrocket and the consistent rains of spring begin to abate, you may find yourself looking at your lawn and wondering what you can do to ensure it does not stifle and die.
Make no mistake, grass, like all plants, needs water to thrive. And even those grasses that can better withstand drought and heat conditions will eventually need a good watering.
And with another north Georgia summer on its way, you can bet that, at some point, we will be facing high temperatures and at least several days in a row with no rain.
So, when you do find yourself in this situation, how can you best aid your lawn? And how can you ensure that it is not damaged by the elements? Because you do not want to have to go through the pain of replacing either small sections or significant portions of your grass. However, it is also possible to over-water your lawn and negatively affect its health in that way too.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most effective and safest methods of keeping your grass healthy through even the hottest and driest summers.
HOW DO I KNOW MY LAWN NEEDS WATER?
First off, keep a consistent eye on your grass. You’ll know when it starts looking parched. Is it starting to turn gray or lose its lush, green coloration? If so, it is in need of a drink.
Also, take a walk on it. If you walk on the grass and it stays compressed from where your footprints fell, then it is not adequately watered and needs a drink. It should spring back easily and stand up to even consistent foot traffic.
OK, SO WHAT TIME OF DAY SHOULD I WATER?
Good question and maybe not one many people ask themselves. But think of it this way, does it make sense to apply a bunch of water, only to have it evaporate into the atmosphere?
That’s why you should always water your lawn in the mornings. Before 10 a.m. is the rule of thumb, as any later and you risk the sun and temperatures negating the effect of watering. Prior to 10 a.m. it is both cool and winds are likely less present, so the water will have a chance of soaking deeper into the soil and providing your lawn’s root structure with the refreshment it needs.
That said, you do not want to water at night, either, as this actually promotes disease. But we know it’s not always easy to get up in the morning and water your lawn (you have a job, kids and other things to handle), so if you must wait till the evening, try to water between 4-6 p.m. This will allow the lawn to completely dry before dark.
HOW MUCH DO I WATER?
The good news is that you do not need to water your lawn every day – not even every other day. Grass roots only require about an inch to an inch-and-a-half of water every week.
That does mean that you need to give it a pretty thorough soaking when you do water, however. And to figure out how much this will take does require some work on your part.
You will need to make sure that the water you apply is reaching 6-8 inches into the soil. To determine this, grab a screwdriver and then start your normal watering procedure – whether that be from a hose, sprinkler or irrigation/sprinkler system. Once the water has been running for about 15 minutes, drive the screwdriver into the watered lawn/soil and then pull it out. You should be able to tell how far down the moisture has spread. Remember, that water needs to reach 6 inches into the ground, so keep testing until you see wet soil 6 inches down. Keep checking those levels throughout your lawn every 15 minutes or so.
Once you have determined this level, apply this type of soaking at least once a week, if not twice a week – especially during dry/drought conditions. And you will now know how much and where to water on a consistent basis.
HOW DO I KNOW MY SPRINKLER SYSTEM IS DOING THE TRICK?
Sprinkler systems utilize a lot of water at one time and get very expensive if over-used. So, how do you make sure you’re not paying more than what you need for water?
You can attempt the test used above with a sprinkler system. Or you can do some simple math and let the sprinklers do their job.
First, determine your system’s flow rate from (check with the manufacturer if necessary). Now, multiply the square footage of your lawn by 0.62 gallons (which equals an inch of water per square foot) then divide that figure by the flow rate. The resulting number is how many minutes you should run your sprinkler system.
You can also place empty receptacles around your yard and see how long it takes those receptacles to fill with an inch of water. That will also give you an idea of how long you should be running your system.
Also, many new systems now run off wireless control systems, which integrate with your phone, so you can turn them on and off remotely. You can also program them to run automatically when they sense that your lawn has not received enough water, so that you do not have to worry about your system turning on during a storm or just a day after a heavy rain, thus wasting water.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’VE USED TOO MUCH WATER?
If you start to see mushrooms and other fungus growing regularly in your yard, then you may be watering too much. It is not unusual to see the occasional toadstool following a heavy rain. However, if you see them regularly, then you are probably watering too frequently. Fungus can inhibit grass growth, so you do not want to encourage its growth.
WHAT IF I’VE TRIED ALL THIS BUT STILL HAVE PROBLEMS?
If you find yourself fighting a losing battle with determining your lawn situation, have questions or are concerned about what the impending summer weather could do to your lawn, consider giving the professionals at Hughes Turf Management a call. Our years of experience and expertise can put your lawn back to full health and give your grass more than a fighting chance of dealing with even the most stifling summer weather.
Contact us today at 678-617-1962 and let us ensure your lawn’s optimal health for summers to come.