Most lawns need between 1/2 and 1 inch of water per week. With the exception of new seed, watering should be deep and infrequent. Ideally, your irrigation system should have a weather station and smart controller that automatically adjust watering. A simple rain sensor is better than nothing. Keep your irrigation system turned off until the weather turns warmer (days start getting over 80). This is usually later May. If your controller does not have a full blown weather station that tracks rain, it is best to keep the system off through the spring while it is obvious that rainfall is plentiful.
Over watering produces soggy soil, damages turf roots, and promotes fungus.
Once temperatures are regularly in the 80’s, we recommend watering 2-3 times a week. You can skip a cycle if we get 1/2 inch of rain or more. Your smart controller will automatically do this. Rain sensors can help.
Apply 1/2-3/4 inch of water per irrigation cycle. If you water with a sprinkler and only want to do this once a week, put down 1 full inch. This can be calculated by setting out several straight sided containers in the area you are watering, and measuring how much you collect.
If your lawn needs water, it will start to look less “green”. When stepped on, it will not spring up as quickly, and the blades will have a dull appearance.
It is best to water in the early morning between 1am and 9am.
Be aware-watering lightly and infrequently can cause damage by promoting a shallow root system and fungus. Do not take a hose, spray the lawn down for 15 minutes in the afternoon, and think it was adequate! Many sprinklers take several hours to put down 1 inch of water.
If temperatures are regularly in the upper 80’s or 90’s, your lawn will struggle, even with proper watering. Try to reduce traffic, and make sure to keep watering every 3 days deeply to maintain color. Watering once per week deeply is still much better than nothing at all. Even watering once every other week DEEPLY (1.5 inches) during a drought will help keep your turf alive.
We are irrigation experts. Contact us about new systems, making your existing system smart or more efficient, or repairing and maintaining your system.
Watering New Seed
All grass seed requires proper moisture and temperatures to germinate. Once the germination process has begun, the new sprout will die if it dries out. New seed must be watered every day at a minimum. How much water your seed will need depends on many variables, but the key element is DO NOT LET THE SOIL DRY OUT. Soil that is dry will take a lighter color or develop small cracks. It will look crumbly. You want to keep the soil dark and moist. If there are puddles or the soil gets very soggy, back off a little. The seed must be watered at least daily, and the seed/top layer of soil must stay damp for a minimum of 14-21 days. Light, frequent watering is the key here (just the opposite of what you do with an established lawn).
In full sun, watering twice a day is necessary. Morning and early afternoon are ideal. There is no need to water deeply-just make sure the top inch of soil stays damp. In cool, cloudy weather, watering once a day or every other day might be sufficient. Rain will also allow you to skip a day.
Generally, after 14-21 days, you can cut back on the watering frequency, and start watering more deeply. Switch to every 2-3 days, and try to put down a quarter to half inch.
Your success with new seed will be directly related to your watering. Lack of consistency can ruin or greatly reduce your results.
Instructions for Watering New Plants
Annuals-There is a lot of variety here, but most annuals have shallow roots and need frequent (as much as daily) watering. Check on-line or contact us or any expert for specific details.
Perennials-New perennials should be watered weekly until established. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between watering, but do not let the plant start to stress or wilt. If you are watering too much, the soil will be soggy and mushy. If you are not watering enough, the soil will get dry and hard past the ½ to 1 inch depth.
Trees/Shrubs-For the first 1-2 years after planting, trees and shrubs need regular supplemental watering. Weekly is usually sufficient in the absence of good rain. Water slow and deep-let a hose run at the base of the tree on a slow trickle for several hours, or use Gator Bags that deliver the water in a slow, controlled manner. Soaker hoses work great. If you dump a 5 gallon bucket on the base, most of the water will run off, and not be effective! Most trees need 10-20 gallons per week without rain. Smaller shrubs will need 5-10 gallons. The top layer of soil should dry out between watering, and the soil should not be squishy and soggy. Step around the base of the plant-if the soil is squishy wet, let it dry out! During extreme heat (temperatures around 90 or warmer), increase watering frequency. During cool weather, decrease or eliminate watering based on rainfall. A good indicator of natural rainfall is your turf. If your turf is green and lush, watering is probably not necessary. If your turf is looking stressed and growth is slowing, start watering. If non-irrigated lawns are brown and dormant, water regularly and deeply.
Remember, over-watering or under-watering can both kill a plant. If you go on vacation or cannot water new or sensitive plants, make sure your irrigation system is properly set, or have a neighbor water for you. 1-2 weeks without water during hot, dry weather can easily kill even some new trees.
Lawns that struggle
Keep in mind an application program is only one aspect of healthy turf. Weather, irrigation practices, and your soil quality will all have a large impact on your lawn, and problems in any of these areas can offset the best application efforts.
First, make sure you are on our full program for the best results. Skipping a step might fit your budget, but be aware it will reduce quality.
Second, make sure you are watering properly.
Third, think about the weather. If it has been 95 for a week, or has rained every day for a week, these adverse conditions will cause problems. Have patience-this is Ohio…
Fourth, evaluate your soil. Most soil in Ohio is compacted clay. It is low in organic matter. The home builders put sod on top of gravel, trash, and packed clay, and basically guarantee a struggle. There is no complete remedy to fix what the builder should have done. We do, however, have great results from aeration, seeding with improved Turf Type Tall Fescue, and top dressing with compost. The compost is a great soil amendment that adds organic matter and helps balance the soil out.