Watering your lawn – the most common mistakes homeowners make and how to avoid them
We all want lush, green and beautiful lawns, but when it comes to watering lawns properly, many homeowners make at least 1 of these common mistakes (and often several of them).
Lawns generally only need 1 to 1.5 inches of water a week. This water can come from rainfall, irrigation or active watering with a hose…or any combo. This certainly can vary based on the weather and type of lawn that you have.
The problem is that many people water their lawns too much, too often, at the wrong times and in the wrong ways. Not only does this waste water, but it can also make you lawn worse and can lead to an increase in insects (including ticks – read more about tick prevention here), fungus and thatch problems.
9 Biggest mistakes made when watering lawns
1. Watering the lawn in the hot sun (or hot weather)
Not only is this a huge waste of water, but it’s also ineffective and unhealthy for your grass. If you water your lawn in the middle of the day with the burning sun, most of it will evaporate into the air…and it won’t penetrate into the soil for the roots to absorb it. It’s ideal to water early in the morning when it’s coolest (generally 4am-10am). Ideally infrequent deep saturating watering is what we are after to keep the soil moist, as this is where the turf root system goes for it’s water needs.
Note: The exception to the rule is during a heat wave and people will do a syringe shot for a short 15 to 20 minutes to try and cool off the turf. Realize that you are losing a good amount of water to evaporation. This is sometimes done in the golf industry to help reduce the stresses of excessive heat if they are behind in there water.
2. Watering every day
First, your grass does not need to be watered daily. Usually twice a week is sufficient (unless it’s been raining, in which case you may only need to do it once). But, regardless, it’s much better to do 2 good waterings that penetrate well into the soil rather than 7 short waterings that may only go down around an inch.
You want the water to penetrate 6″ into the soil. This will encourage the roots to grow deeper. This will give your grass a healthier root system so that not only will your grass be lush and green, but it will be more resilient to weather extremes including the mid day sun and major rain storms.
3. Using the wrong type of sprinkler
It’s best to have to have a built-in sprinkler system. For mature lawns, a pulsating sprinkler is way better than an oscillating one. A pulsating sprinkler shoot out water horizontally and are therefore less vulnerable to wind and evaporation. So, the water penetrates deeper into the soil.
An oscillating system sprays the water upwards, so you’ll get a more uneven watering and more evaporation in the air. Keep in mind that wind will also effect the watering of an oscillating sprinkler. Making sure to get the right type of watering system for your property if you are not going with a professionally installed irrigation system.
There is an exception though. For new grass systems, an oscillating sprinkler system is better as a pulsating sprinkler may be too rough and the intense water pressure may wash away and disperse the seeds. So if you have a new lawn, use an oscillating system and then convert to a pulsating one when the grass is mature.
The first sprinkler here is a pulsating system and the second one is oscillating.
4. Giving the flowers, shrubs and trees the same amount of water as the grass
Different types of plants need different amounts of water and different frequencies. So it’s important to water these all appropriately. Watering too often is just as bad (if not worse) than not watering enough.
5. Putting the sprinklers on auto-pilot
This, of course can create all sorts of problems including having the sprinklers go off while it’s already raining. Or, you may need to adjust the amount of water based on the season (e.g. based on heat and humidity).
A simple solution for this is to install a water monitor that will prevent the system from watering when it’s raining or the soil is too moist. It’s easier than remembering to wake up early and turn off the system (and also takes care of the lawn while you’re away).
6. Using the sprinklers to water the street, driveway or house
This one is so simple to fix (just move where the sprinklers are. But, it happens often when the systems are run early in the morning before you leave the house. So, check this as you may be wasting water unnecessarily.
Oh, and while water the road is not the end of the world (just a waste of water), watering your house can cause a lot of issues (and these could be rather costly).
7. Primarily watering the grass blades rather than the roots
The grass leaves only absorb a minute amount of water, and in fact it’s the roots that are responsible for the majority of water absorption, so it’s critical that the water is penetrating the soil (around 6″ deep) for the roots to be strong and healthy.
8. Planting too many flowers or shrubs that need a LOT of water
Hydrangeas , impatiens, hibiscus, some ferns and other plants need a lot of water and these may divert the water away from your grass. If you’re going to use these water hogs, try to isolate them (e.g. by placing them in pots or cluster them together).
9. Neglecting to mulch
Adding 2-3 inches of mulch around the shrubs and flowers is a great way to conserve water. It coats the soil and helps keep it moist. It also reduces water run off.
- Best way to water your lawn
- What is the proper mowing height for your lawn?
- How to control and prevent ticks in your yard
If you live in Fairfield County CT, we’d be happy to help you out. Give us a shout at 203-424-1164, and we’d be happy to give you an estimate. Our estimates are always FREE. Or, fill out our contact form below.