Having the perfect lawn is not easy. Some think they can merely leave their sprinklers turned on once a week for an hour, and call it a day.
Unfortunately, this can spell disaster for your plant friends! It can lead to under-watering or, worse, over-watering your lawn.
Determining the perfect watering schedule and finding right type of sprinkler heads for your lawn is no easy task. There are a lot of factors that you need to consider:
Weather will largely dictate how much water your lawn needs, or if it needs water at all. Generally, you need to water more often in the summer. Heat evaporates moisture and will quickly lead to dry conditions.
During winter, you might not need to water your lawn at all. Moisture doesn’t dry up as fast when you have a dry winter. Besides, most plants usually end up going dormant anyways.
During spring, you can usually get away with watering your lawn 20% to 50% less versus summer. It’s best to start watering once a week at this recommended run time. Increase this duration as the weather gets warmer going into summer.
Fall is similar to spring, but only in reverse. Start shortening your watering times as the weather gets colder. In general, expect to water around 30% less than in summer.
Rainfall is one factor that can wreck an otherwise perfect lawn-watering schedule. Many local governments have irrigation calculators that take local weather conditions into account. These can help advise homeowners on the best length of time to leave their sprinklers on.
Areas of your lawn that get more shade also need to be watered less often. The reason is that the area is not exposed to much sunlight and, therefore, the water does not evaporate as much.
How much water your plants need
Different plants have different moisture requirements. The grass is hardier and requires as little as an inch of water per week, even during the dry summer months. More delicate shrubs or flowers might need more.
Also, you must take the aesthetic of your lawn into consideration. A picturesque yard with perfect green grass needs more water versus one that needs to survive summer barely. A good rule of thumb is to start watering when your grass starts to curl up and loses its bright green color.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s better to water your lawn for more extended periods, but less frequently. This approach is to ensure that just the right amount of water reaches the plant.
The type of soil is vital to consider because you would want to water your lawn enough to reach the plant’s roots. Ideally, water should reach about 4 to 6 inches deep from the soil’s surface.
You can measure this with a simple garden spade. First, turn on your water sprinkler for around 30 minutes and wait for it to finish. You then run down the spade into the ground and see how many inches down the soil became wet. Use this data to calculate how long you need to keep the sprinklers on.
A great way to ensure water gets deep enough into the soil is to use the cycle soak method. Instead of watering your lawn in one go, you do it in intervals with periods of rest in between. This approach allows for ample soil time to absorb the moisture.
An excellent place to start is 10 minutes of watering with 30 minutes of rest in between. Repeat until you reach a total of 30 minutes of watering, or whatever your target duration is.
Time of Day
Aside from the weather, there’s an ideal time of day to water your lawn. In general, it’s better to do it during early morning or evening. Not only is there less evaporation, but watering late at night makes the plant more susceptible to disease. This problem is due to more moisture that remains on the plant’s leaves.
Your Irrigation System
In general, drip or bubbler irrigation systems need to be used less often than spray systems. This is because more water is lost to evaporation with the latter. Drip irrigation systems supply water closer to the soil’s surface, leading to more moisture saturation.