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Watering

Unfortunately, lawns cannot be watered on a set schedule. The time of year, soil conditions, temperature, recent rainfall and other climatic conditions all play a role in determining when and how often to water your lawn.

Watering every day will result in your lawn having shallow roots and not being able to tolerate our summer heat.

Generally not, but if the precipitation for all the heads are in balance it is okay. If they are unbalanced, parts of your lawn will either receive too much or too little water.

Bluegrass can survive and be healthy with as little as 1” of water per week. A proper soil prep and good sprinkler system are keys to a good looking lawn.

During the winter, water your lawn once every 3-4 weeks if there has been lack of moisture from snow or rain. This is especially important for south and western exposures. Keeping moisture in your lawn will help to prevent damage from mites.

Your lawn will tell you when it needs water. Look for signs the grass is dehydrated. If the grass blades have turned steel gray or straw colored it needs water.

Walk across your lawn and notice if you have left footprints behind. If you see footprints where you have walked, the lawn is stressed and needs water.

Long periods of high temperatures and wind will cause grass blades to lose moisture faster than can be absorbed through the roots. This will cause the grass to curl up and appear to be drought stressed even though there is moisture in the soil. It is best to test for soil moisture to determine if additional watering is needed.

Take a screw driver and poke it down through the grass and into the soil. If the soil is dry it will be difficult to push it into the ground. If it has moist dirt or mud attached when you pull it out, there is adequate moisture in the soil.

Depending on current climatic conditions and time of year, most lawns can go several days or longer between watering.

A lawn that is watered too frequently will establish a shallow root system that is in constant need of supplemental watering. Over watering can also create conditions for development of fungus and disease.

It is best to water infrequently and deeper. This will allow the grass to develop the deep root system needed to capture sub-soil moisture and become less dependent on supplemental watering.

Water will run off sloped areas very quickly. This requires watering more often with shorter watering times to help prevent runoff.

Most lawns are over watered. Bluegrass lawns can survive with less than 1" of water per week, even in the hot summer months.

The definition of a xeriscape plant is the ability to survive on 15" or less of water per year. If a bluegrass lawn is grown according to its natural growing cycle, greening up during the cooler months and allowed to go dormant during the hot summer months, it can survive and remain healthy on 15" of water per year.

Watering during the early morning hours when it is cooler and there is less wind will prevent loss of water from evaporation during the hotter times of the day.

Fungus and other lawn diseases associated with high moisture levels are not usually a problem in areas of the country with low humidity like Colorado.

The only reason our lawns stay green all Summer is because we want them to. The natural growing cycle of the grass plant is to be green during the cooler months of Spring and Fall and then go dormant during the hot months of Summer. Bluegrass can survive on minimal amounts of moisture during prolonged periods of high temperatures and return to its normal growing habits during times of cooler temperatures.

There are a number of factors to consider when determining how much water to apply to your lawn. Soil type, time of year, climatic conditions, rainfall, grass variety, water restrictions and type of sprinkler heads must all be accounted for. Approximate supplemental water amounts are listed in our Irrigation Recommendations Guide.

Our lawns need varying amounts of water depending on the time of year. Setting your clock just once in the Spring and using the same setting all year will result in over watering during the cool months and under watering during the hot months. Your grass will need less water in April than in August. Set your clock for smaller run times in the Spring, gradually increase length of times each month through July, and then reduce run times each month through October.

Depending on the time of year, watering every 2-3 days is sufficient for a traditional bluegrass lawn.

Amounts of water needed will depend on sprinkler head types, their precipitation rates, time of year and number of days per week to water. For example, a traditional lawn needs approximately 1" of water per week in August. If you are watering two days a week, you will need to apply ½" water twice a week.

Run times for sprinkler zones will depend on sprinkler head types and their precipitation rates. A simple test is to place a container on the lawn and measure how long it takes to accumulate ½" water. Determine how much water your lawn needs per week for the time of year, divide by number of watering days per week, and adjust run times up or down to accumulate needed amounts of water.

The addition of organic matter to the soil will increase its water holding capacity, keeping water available longer to be utilized by the grass. Rototilling the ground to a depth of 4" or more will allow water to penetrate deeper into the soil and encourage the deep root growth needed to lessen the amount of additional water that needs to be applied.

Different types of soil will absorb water at different rates. A heavy clay soil can take up to 5 hours to absorb 1" of water while a sandy soil needs only 1 hour to absorb the same amount. Addition of organic matter while preparing the soil will improve both types of soil. Clay soil will absorb water more easily while sandy soil will hold on to it longer.

These areas should be aerated to allow water to penetrate deeper into the soil. Instead of running the entire sprinkler zone again and over watering other areas, water dry spots by hand to give them additional moisture.

A "frog eye" or open hole sprinkler distributes water quicker and more evenly by keeping water closer to the ground. Oscillating sprinklers tend to lose too much water to evaporation by throwing water high into the air as they swing back and forth.

A well-designed sprinkler system with overlapping coverage will help. Adjust sprinkler heads so they only water the grass and not the sidewalk. Set the irrigation clock to manual and only water when the grass needs it.

It is best to maintain moisture 4" - 6" deep in the soil in order for the grass to develop a deep root system. Roots will go to where the water is by what is called a “hydrotropic reaction." A lawn with a deep root system will require less supplemental water by using available sub-soil moisture.