Overwatered vs. Underwatered Lawns

It can sometimes be difficult to tell if your lawn has gotten a little too much water or not enough, especially when both issues can result in similar large, brown, dormant (or dead) patches. So how can you tell if your lawn is over- or underwatered?

Signs of an Overwatered Lawn

  1. Leaves initially turn bright green, limp, and flimsy
  2. Lawn feels squishy when walking on it
  3. Often infected with fungal diseases, moss, or algae
  4. Eventually, leaves will turn yellow, then brown

Signs of an Underwatered Lawn

  1. Leaves initially turn gray, then blueish
  2. Footprints remain in the lawn for more than 30 minutes after walking on the grass
  3. Eventually, leaves will turn yellow, then brown
  4. Lawn will be dry, crispy, or crunchy as it goes dormant


How to Recover an Overwatered or Underwatered Lawn

Regardless of which way your irrigation issues swing, there are things you can do to help. 

  1. Audit your irrigation system by placing a few tuna cans or other uniformly-sized containers throughout the lawn and running your irrigation for a set amount of time. If your cans all have the same amount of water in them – great! You’re irrigating uniformly. If they don’t, you may need to make some adjustments so you aren’t overwatering some spots and underwatering others.
  2. Set up irrigation zones so spots that need more water (slopes, for example) are getting the right amount, and spots that need less (shaded and low-lying areas) don’t get over-irrigated.
  3. Water deeply and infrequently to grow deep roots and grass that’s more resilient to changes in water extremes.
  4. Reduce traffic in wet areas to avoid compaction and infiltration issues, and in dry areas to reduce damage to drought-stressed turf.