How Much Water Does Your Lawn Need?


To keep your lawn looking lush and green, it's important to keep it well watered - however, your grass may not be as thirsty as you think.

Mother Nature knows best.

Typically speaking, natural rainfall is enough to sustain the grass living on your lawn. There may be some instances where additional watering is necessary, such as planting new grass or extended drought, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it's usually not necessary to water grass every day. Instead, test your lawn by stepping on a patch of grass; if it springs back, it doesn't need water. Before you water, make sure rain is not predicted in the next few days, and if so, let Mother Nature be your sprinkler.

Pump up your drought defense.

Soils rich in decomposed organic materials will do a better job of holding moisture. You can add it from the top down by spreading a 1/2-inch layer of peat moss on the lawn and working it down into the root area with a rake. You can improve your lawn's efficiency by removing thatch and aerating your lawn. Compacted soil and thatch prevent water from soaking in to the soil. When planting, you can also mix your grass seed with varieties like St. Augustine that don't get so thirsty.

If you must water, sprinkle with strategy.

The best time to water is early in the morning. There is usually less wind, temperatures are moderate, and there is less chance for diseases to get established, which is a common problem with night watering. Watering in the hot sun of the afternoon is the worst from the point of view of water conservation. Up to half the water can evaporate in the air or on the ground during the hot part of the day.

Don't let brown grass get you down.

Consider sacrificing a little curb appeal to save a lot of water. Lawns are amazingly resilient and can tolerate dry conditions for up to 2 months if left alone. Brown grass is not actually dead, but in a dormant state, and will bounce back when rainfall and cooler temperatures return in the fall. It will bounce back even faster if it was well fed in the spring.

Please, don't soak the sidewalk!

We've all seen it: the sprinkler that's set up to water a 2' x 2' tree lawn, but is effectively watering the whole driveway. If you use too much water power, or apply water faster than the lawn can absorb it, the water runs off into street gutters and into oblivion. That wastes a LOT of water; up to 265 gallons per hour. Instead, water in short intervals of about 10 to 15 minutes, turn off the water (or move the sprinkler) to let the water soak in, and then turn the sprinkler back on for another 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat this procedure until you get the water down to about 6 to 8 inches deep.