Don’t Let Your Lawn & Garden Go Thirsty: Tips for Watering

As the dog days of summer stretch on, your lawn and garden may be suffering from a lack of water. Unless you want your grass to go brown and your garden to stop producing, you will need to start watering. To efficiently and effectively water your lawn and garden without waste, there are a few tips you should keep in mind.

Does your lawn need watering?

Walk across your lawn late in the afternoon and if you leave any footprints, the lawn may need watering. When your feet compress the leaf blades, it’s the low water level in the plant tissues preventing the blades from recovering, or springing back up. If footprints remain for an extended period of time, water the lawn to prevent turfgrass from turning brown and becoming dormant. Blades that fold, roll, or wilt are another sign of drought stress.

Another way to tell if your lawn needs watering is to do the screwdriver test. Push a screwdriver through the lawn and into the soil. If it’s difficult to push down into the ground, soil is very dry. This test should be used to confirm the visual indicators above to help determine when a lawn should be watered.

How much should you water?

Unless the lawn has received a significant amount of rain, as a general rule, apply about 1 inch of water per week. Increase the amount to 1 ½ inches during severe dry periods. It is best to divide irrigation time into two application of a half-inch per week. Avoid watering to the point of runoff; allow water to soak into the lawn and soil. If needed, apply less water and allow it to soak in. During hot periods, vegetable plants require up to 1½ inches of water each week. During long dry periods, soak the garden thoroughly once a week.

What time of day should you water your garden or landscape?

You should water your garden or landscape before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. when temperatures are cooler and the air is calmer so that evaporation is kept to a minimum. In addition, watering in the morning will not create the environmental conditions that promote the occurrence of diseases.

How often should you water?

Once your lawn is watered, do not water again until similar drought stress symptoms are observed. Never water a lawn every day except during the establishment phase or renovation. Frequent watering only encourages shallow rooting of the turfgrass plants, making the lawn less drought-tolerant.