It’s time to water your lawn to keep it green and healthy, but you don’t want to waste water. So do you grab a cup of coffee, or do you grab a flashlight?
If you live in the dry southwest, you’ll need that flashlight because nighttime watering is your best bet. For the rest of the country, research shows the best time to run your sprinkler is from 5 AM to 8 AM. In the early morning hours, water pressure is high, wind is moderate and the amount of water lost to evaporation is negligible. Watering early in the morning also reduces the chance of turf diseases that require extended periods of leaf moisture.
Not a morning person? Not a problem. Just install an automatic sprinkler system with a timer so you can keep counting sheep while you’re sprinkler gets the job done.
Too much, too little, just right?
According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, the amount of water to apply depends on the soil type and its moisture content:
- On a loamy or silty soil, it is best to apply around 1 inch of water once per week.
- Sandy soils typically require 1/2 inch of water twice per week.
- Apply water slowly to clay soil, or at several different times, to allow time for it to soak in.
How long does a sprinkler need to run to apply an inch of water? For the average-size hose, it takes 2 to 3 hours. The following is an good way to check the amount of water applied:
- Place small, straight-sided containers at different intervals in the sprinkling area.
- Catch the water for an hour.
- Measure the depth of water with a ruler (all levels should be the same).
Over watering your lawn can cause shallow roots, nutrient loss, weed growth and other problems. To avoid over watering, install a sensor to measure rain levels and use a water gauge. The simplest way to check for over watering is to use the screwdriver method. If you can insert a screwdriver into the soil easily (about 6 inches deep), your lawn has enough water.