When to Water Grass: A Guide to Keeping It Healthy

The question of when to water the grass is crucial to maintaining a lush lawn. Water at the optimal time of day and get the right frequency and amount and the grass will stay healthy and strong.

Selecting the best fast-growing grass seeds can provide a beautiful green lawn, but once it’s established, good watering practices are essential to maintaining your choice for the backyard.

Below, we bring you the know-how you need to know when to water the grass to keep the lawn lush and avoid wasting water.

When to water the grass

Making a lawn thick and green takes a bit of work, as well as the know-how of when to water the grass. “Water is obviously the lifeblood of any healthy lawn, but figuring out when to water your lawn, how much to water it, and general best practices can be tricky,” says Donnie Shelton, owner of Triangle Lawn Care in Raleigh, CN. These are the details.

What time of day to water the grass

Timing is important when watering the grass so that your efforts have maximum effect and to conserve a valuable resource.

“During the summer, I generally recommend watering early in the morning or in the evening as the second best option,” says Donnie Shelton.

If you water your lawn in the middle of the day, especially in the summer, the sun will eventually evaporate between 25-40% of the water, which means your lawn will most likely be flooded.

“By watering when the sun isn’t as intense, it ensures that most of the water has time to seep into the roots of the lawn.”

If you must water in the evening, don’t leave it too late, so it has a chance to dry out. “Overnight leaf wetness can be beneficial for fungal pathogens,” says Eric De Boer, turf and horticulture science specialist, PhD of Simple Lawn Solutions.

Signs the grass needs watering

Walking on the lawn will give you a good indication of when to water the grass. “It’s good practice to wait until your lawn starts to show mild symptoms of water stress before deciding to irrigate,” explains Eric De Boer.

“It shows when you walk on the lawn in the evening and your footprints don’t bounce off but remain visible on the lawn for an extended period of time.”

Factors that influence when to water the grass

Many factors influence how often the grass should be watered. “These factors include grass species, soil type and climate,” explains Eric De Boer. “As a general rule, cool season grasses will require more frequent irrigation than warm season grasses. This is because warm season grasses use water more efficiently than cool season grasses.

“The type of soil will also affect the frequency of irrigation. Sandy soils, low in organic matter, have a limited capacity to retain water available to plants and to drain fairly freely. Clay soils, at the other end of the spectrum, can hold much more water than sandy soils, but clays can hold some of the water so tightly that water is not available to the roots of the lawn.

“Climate also plays a role as sunny, windy days with low humidity will cause plants to evaporate and sweat much more than humid days with stagnant air.”

How much water does grass need?

The amount of rain will influence when to water the grass. “Aim to provide your lawn with a minimum of 1 inch of water per week, this includes rainfall,” says Eric De Boer. ‘So the default position of your irrigation system should not be in the “on” position.

‘Aim to supplement the lack of rainfall each week with deep, infrequent irrigation events. Use a rain gauge to track how much water Mother Nature has blessed you with; this will help you reduce your water bill.

How often should you water your lawn?

Avoid watering the lawn too often. “I generally recommend watering twice a week if you haven’t had significant rainfall this week,” says Donnie Shelton.

Keep in mind that too frequent watering can cause problems. “Generally, it’s good practice to water deeply, as infrequently as possible, without completely stressing your lawn,” says Eric De Boer. “Light and frequent irrigation applications keep the upper part of the root zone and the thatch layer moist. This can encourage weed seeds to germinate, give fungal pathogens the moisture they need to thrive, and it can also prevent proper soil aeration.

Can you overwater the grass?

It is possible to overwater the grass. Consequences of overwatering can include disease, and overwatering deprives grass of the oxygen it needs to live.

Keep in mind that the rules are different if you are planting grass seed. “When watering a newly seeded lawn, the key is to keep the top inch of the soil consistently moist but not soggy,” says Certified Master Gardener Gabriel J Croteau, consultant to Juliei Salone.

“You’ll probably need to mist the seeded area once or twice a day, but do more if it’s hot and dry outside. You will want to keep the top 2 inches of soil moist until the new grass is about 3 inches tall. Then you will water it like your other grass.

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