Lawn Watering: The Importance of Conservation

by Matt Solis


The ideal lawn should grow in your environment without lots of supplemental watering. In general, turf grasses only need about one inch of water per week to maintain their green color and active growth. However, there are numerous other factors to consider when determining your lawn’s water needs, like soil and weather conditions. Here are a few guidelines to follow.

Know when to water. The first few warm days of summer shouldn’t be an automatic reminder to water your lawn. In fact, allowing your lawn to grow under mild drought stress actually increases rooting and can darken the color of the grass. You’ll know you need to water your lawn if you walk across it and your footprints remain (healthy leaf blades will bounce back up instead of lay flat).

Water as infrequently as possible.When you do water your lawn, make sure the moisture reaches all the way to the roots. Exceptions to this general rule are newly seeded lawns where the surface needs to stay moist and newly sodded lawns that haven’t yet rooted into the soil. Otherwise, avoid frequent watering—it promotes shallower root systems and weeds.

Water early in the day. If your schedule allows, water early in the day when your lawn is wet with dew. Midday watering will cause excessive evaporation, and nighttime watering increases the potential of lawn diseases. The exception to this is when you’re in extremely hot weather and nighttime temperatures don’t fall below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. In this case, it’s better to water your lawn in the late afternoon or early evening, provided you don’t have watering-time restrictions. Watering early or late in the day reduces the amount of evaporation that takes place amidst hot temperatures, which allows more water to reach the lawn’s root zone.

Monitor rainfall. Don’t water your lawn if rain is expected soon. Keep track of weekly rainfall, and don’t apply more water to the lawn than absolutely necessary.

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