Like you, your lawn requires water to survive. It’s that simple, really - but there are a few important best practices to know before firing up the ol’ sprinkler system.
The goal is to moisten as much of the root zone as possible. After watering your lawn, use a small trowel to see if the water has reached the root zone. If the roots grow down 6 inches deep, water so the soil is moistened to that depth.
Clay vs Sand: Water moves easily through sandy soil reaching the roots zone quickly. Whereas, clay soils absorb water well, but slowly often resulting in runoff. For clay heavy soils, try watering in intervals or “cycle soaking”. On for 5 minutes, off for 40, on for 5, off for 40, etc.
For plant health and water efficiency, the best time to water is between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Morning watering’s are best for disease avoidance, evening watering’s are better for reducing water needs.
Deep and infrequent watering promotes good root growth and overall resourcefulness. Whereas, watering daily makes grass weak, more vulnerable to disease, and the weeds and moss love it.
Look for these signs that your grass needs water to help guide your watering schedule: Footprints that remain visible for more than 30 minutes or a blue, gray, or purple tint to the grass.
Generally, sprinklers disperse 1/6-1/2 inch of water per 15 minutes, but this can vary greatly. You could buy a rain gauge to measure how much water your sprinkler is putting out or you can do it yourself!
Make your own water gauge by placing several flat, shallow cans on your lawn, run the sprinklers for 15 minutes, and then measure the water level with a ruler.
This information will help you know more about your sprinkler system and make informed adjustments as need.
These are just guidelines and good starting points; you’ll have to listen to your grass and adjust your irrigation routine accordingly. Is the grass dehydrated and not springing back after walking on it? Increase water volume. Is the lawn squishy after walking on it? You might need to decrease water volume. With enough practice and observation, you’ll become a grass whisperer.
Keep in mind this guide is for healthy, established lawns. Infant lawns or lawns with disease will have different irrigation requirements.