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drought brown lawn

The Best Time To Water Grass And Lawns

There are 4 elements needed to achieve a vibrant, healthy green lawn: good fertilization, targeted weed control, proper mowing, and enough water. If you’re on a Giroud Lawncare Program, we take care of the fertilization and weed control so your grass has the nutrients it needs to grow and a strong defense system to fight weeds. However, if you’re mowing wrong or your lawn is getting too much or not enough water, it can suffer from stress, pests, diseases and fungus.

In this guide, Giroud Lawn Care Manager, Jason Lines, explains how to know if your lawn needs water, when to water, how often , and the best times of day to water. He also shares other tips for watering grass, including the benefits of installing an irrigation system as opposed to manually watering. Additionally, he explains proper mowing techniques and common problems to avoid when mowing.

When is the best time to water?
How often should I water my lawn?
How long should I water my lawn?
How do I know if my lawn needs watering?
Should I invest in an irrigation system?

Check out the Top 3 Dangers to Lawns in Summer.

When Is The Best Time To Water My Lawn?

Early morning is the most ideal time to water your lawn for several reasons:

  • Grass and the roots below the surface will be able to absorb the water and have the energy they need to get through the long, hot day.
  • Your grass and soil will have the chance to absorb the water before the hot afternoon sun evaporates it.
  • Any excess water will dry out in the sun over the course of the day, which helps deter insects and fungal diseases

Afternoon is a bad time to water your lawn because:

  • Grass and soil will be competing with the sun in the hottest time of the day! The sun will evaporate the water before your lawn takes in what it needs.
  • “If you let your soil dry out, it can become hydrophobic,” explains Jason. “This means the water will just roll off the soil and never reach the roots.”

Evening is better than afternoon to water your lawn. However it’s still not an ideal time. This is because:

  • Excess water will not have a chance to evaporate, leaving the blades of grass wet through the night. In the summertime, it tends to be more humid at night. This deadly combination can lead to fungus and other diseases.
  • Hungry insects love moist soil! They’ll make a home right at the base of your grass and soon become a problem.

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help your keep your lawn green in summer

How Often Should I Water My Lawn?

“I recommend watering your lawn once or twice per week,” says Jason. “Water for 30 minutes to ensure it’s getting down to those grass roots.”

If you do not have irrigation, it is normal for your lawn to go dormant and turn brown in July and August. Dormancy does not mean the lawn is dying; It’s just your lawn’s way of conserving energy when there’s little or no rain. Most summer stress goes away with the arrival of cooler weather. However, if you’d like your grass to green up, water more frequently and you’ll see results fairly quickly.

Check out Why Lawns Turn Brown in Summer.

Watering Your Lawn During a Drought

Droughts are unavoidable, but your lawn doesn’t have to suffer. If you want your lawn to stay green during a drought, you’ll need to give it a deep soaking twice a week. Frequent shallow watering is NOT effective. Deep soakings help the lawn retain its color and produce a deeper root system which is key to a healthy lawn.

As previously mentioned, provide about 2 inches of water over the course of the week. In the cooler months, water as little as once or twice a week since there is a higher chance of rainfall.

Check out How to Help Your Lawn During a Drought!

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How Long Should I Water My Lawn?

Here in Pennsylvania, the soil is dense and often heavy with clay. This makes it more difficult for water to reach grass roots. Grass needs around 1-2 inches of water per week, which is equivalent to about 30 minutes of watering every 3 days.

“Don’t overwater your lawn either,” explains Jason. “You can inadvertently train your grass to become used to thriving on a large amount of water. Then, when a drought hits, your grass goes into shock.”

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Figure Out How Long To Water Your Lawn With A DIY Sprinkler Gauge
Want to know how long you should run your sprinkler so your lawn gets enough water? Here’s a great tip! Place a clear plastic container on your lawn to catch water during a watering session. Measure the length of time it takes to fill to 1/2 inch. Use this as a guide to how long you need to water for each week to deliver 1-2 inches of water per week.

How Do I Know If My Lawn Needs Watering?

There are a few easy ways to know if your grass needs more watering:

  • The grass is turning brown- remember, dormancy is a normal defense mechanism your grass uses to conserve energy during hot, dry months. If you want it to green up, water more frequently. 
  • Probe the soil- Push a screwdriver into the soil after a watering. If you can’t push it deeper than 4-6 inches, your lawn is too dry.
  • Check the grass bounce back- If you’re leaving footprints when you walk over your grass, chances are the grass blades do not have enough moisture to bounce back!

If your grass does not turn green with additional water, there may be an underlying issue. Call your Giroud Lawncare Expert to check for diseases, fungal infections, or insect problems.

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Should I Invest in an Irrigation System?

It’s very beneficial to have an irrigation system installed. You can set a timer to automatically water your lawn at any time of day for as long as you like. Using an irrigation system also ensures that your lawn is being consistently and evenly watered. Plus, you don’t have to stand outside for 30 minutes with a hose, and saving time is always a plus!

Most irrigation systems have a detector so the system doesn’t run in the rain.  If your system doesn’t have this, you’ll need to manually turn it off when it rains. If you don’t, you run the risk of overwatering your lawn. Some homeowners prefer the control that comes with manually watering their lawn, and that’s fine. There are also environmentally conscious homeowners who prefer to manually water and conserve as much water as possible. Whether you use an irrigation system or a hose to water your lawn, both are effective as long as you keep the above proper techniques in mind.

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Why Aeration and Proper Mowing are Important for Lawns

Here are more tips from Jason that will help you achieve a great lawn this season:

  1. “Aerating every year is important!” explains Jason. “Too much thatch means water just can’t get down to the roots. Aerating breaks up that compacted soil and allows water to flow down.” You can learn more about this service by reading How Aeration and Seeding Build a Better Lawn.
  2. “Make sure you know the proper techniques for mowing your lawn or else you can quickly do alot of damage to an otherwise healthy lawn.” 
  3. “Speaking of mowing, give your lawn mower a tuneup and keep it clean,” says Jason. “Make sure your mower blades are sharp and ready to give an even cut. You should clean your mower blades between each mow to prevent the spread of fungus and diseases.”

To learn more about your lawn mower and proper techniques, check out How to Mow Your Lawn the Right Way!

Want to have a great lawn? Give Giroud a call to schedule a FREE Lawn Evaluation with your Giroud Lawn Care Expert!


Author: Jeanne Hafner

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