What are your lawns water needs seasonally?
Below are the general guidelines for each season…
Winter – Water as needed depending on rainfall. If there is no rain, turn on sprinklers as you should water 1/2″ per week. Check soil moisture with a long screwdriver – it should easily go into the ground seven inches.
Spring – 1 1/2″ per week of water is needed. As temperatures increase in late spring the amount of water should be increased. Determine your weekly watering schedule and sprinkler setting in conjunction with the weekly Spring time rains.
Summer – In the heat of summer, 2″ per week of water is necessary.
* See at bottom of page, “Watering during a drought…”
Fall – As temperatures decrease, so does watering. Water can be decreased to 1 1/2″ per week. Around November, the lawn needs one inch per week. As temperatures cool down even more, you can water less depending on rainfall on into the winter season.
How much water are my sprinklers applying?
There is no general rule of thumb to go by – each sprinkler system puts out a different amount of water. The only way to know how much your system puts out is to measure the total day volume output from your sprinklers.
Below describes how to do this..
The easiest way to measure how many inches of water you are getting per week is by setting some type of a can with straight sides and flat bottom out in your lawn.
You can either buy sprinkler gauges for 25¢ or use old cat food or tuna cans. So long as the cans have straight sides and are approximately one inch deep.
To actually measure how much water your sprinklers put out set several cans in different areas of your yard and turn on your sprinklers.
Set a timer for a certain number of minutes (ie 10 min) and when your time is up, take a ruler and measure how many inches of water is in the can. This will give you a base measurement. Say for instance you receive ½ inch of water in 10 minutes. You know that to receive one inch of water, your sprinklers will need to run for 20 minutes. However, if you received ¼ inch of water in 10 minutes, you would need to run your sprinklers for 40 minutes to receive one inch of water.
You will want to test each station and area of your yard to ensure that the water is being evenly applied. Sometimes one area of the yard may receive less/more water than another area. If this happens talk to us and we can make a couple of suggestions about how to fix this problem.
How often should I water?
Different types of lawns have different watering cycles. Fescue or ryegrass lawns need daily applications of water which should be done in the early morning. Watering at night can encourage fungus disease. Split the amount of water you need per week into daily applications.
For example, in the summer you need 2 inches of water per week. Your sprinklers apply one inch in 20 minutes. This means you need to water 40 minutes per week. Divide the 40 by 7 and round up. This means that you should run your sprinklers about 6 minutes per day.
Bermuda lawns still need the same amount of water as fescue or ryegrass lawns. However, if your roots are 6” or longer, you can water every other day. If roots are less than 6” water daily. Water is preferably applied in the early morning.
Please note: if water runs off during sprinkling, it is better to divide the time and pulse irrigate. For example, three settings of 7 minutes each are better than one 21 minute setting.
Watering during a drought…
Despite the new laws recently passed, lawns still need the same amount of water to live (i.e., 2” per week in the Summer). Since we may now water only 3 times per week, we will need to spread surfactants and polymers over our lawns (just like what golf courses have been doing for decades). Surfactants help water to penetrate (and help prevent the water from running off). Polymers hold the moisture at the root level for the days when we are not allowed to water. Without surfactants and polymers, lawns will likely die if we only water 3 times per week. If we use LT120™ (a surfactant + polymer), we can cut our water consumption by at least 30% without any damage to our landscapes. LT120™ costs $27 to cover 1,000 square feet (and will last 4 months), but we might save that much in the cost of water by cutting back our water usage (and we can still keep our lawns alive and green).
Along with the use of LT 120™, Gardener’s Supply also suggests the following:
1) Utilize pulse irrigating, (i.e., watering several times, for fewer minutes, several hours apart);
2) Water in the morning (watering at night increases our chances for fungus problems);
3) Use sprinkler gauges (to measure the output of each sprinkler head) and adjust sprinklers accordingly;
4) Consider drip-irrigation, soaker hoses, and designated sprinklers (especially for gardens, flowerbeds, and trees);
5) Use our properly blended, slow-release fertilizers;
6) Use our free Soil Lab to test your soil fertility (the soil needs to have a balanced pH, like pool water, and the soil needs to drain well);
7) Use pre-emergents to kill weed-seeds and reduce the need to spray out weeds.