Northern Virginia Lawn Watering Tips
Save Water, Grow a Gorgeous Lawn: 5 Essential Lawn Watering Tips
For most homeowners, making sure the sprinklers come on and turn off is all you need to do to water the lawn. But problems can arise if your timing or water amounts are off. So, to do it right, you need to think strategically. If you want to use less water, but still get a gorgeous lawn, you can do it if you follow these 5 lawn watering tips. If you need help figuring out what species of grass you have in your lawn, or require help with timing or setting up your sprinkler system, just contact AllGreen Landscape Company in Falls Church: (703) 992-8787. We’re committed to helping people get the most beautiful lawn while saving water, money and the environment, all at the same time.
1. What Time of Day Should I Water My Lawn?
Those who have tried to water their lawns overnight know that this is a recipe for disease and rot to settle into your lawn. If you water in the middle of the day, under the hot sun, the water will evaporate before it has a chance to sink deeply into the roots. This is just a pointless waste of water and won’t encourage a deep, healthy root system. The best time to water your lawn is sometime between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. The sun isn’t at full strength to evaporate the water, so the water has a chance to sink into the roots and encourage them to dig deeper, which can lead to a healthier lawn.
2. How Deeply Should I Water My Lawn?
The real question is, how much water does your lawn need? This can be a tricky question, but there is a good answer! If your lawn is well established, make sure to moisten the soil to about six to eight inches deep, but don’t overwater it. Aim for one inch of water weekly, and be sure to factor rain into the equation. You can either water that one inch all at once, or divide it into a set of ½-inch water applications.
3. How Can I Tell if My Lawn Has Enough Water?
If you have a sprinkler system installed, you can do a simple math equation to figure out how long you need to water. The manufacturer should provide a flow-rate for the sprinklers that tells you how many gallons-per-minute the system provides to the lawn. Multiple your lawn’s square footage by 0.62 gallons. This is usually what it takes to provide one inch of water. Divide that number by the manufacturer’s sprinkler flow rate. That final number will be the number of minutes you should run the sprinklers. However, if you do not know the sprinkler flow rate, there are other ways to measure the time so you don’t overwater or underwater the lawn:
- The digging method: During your first lawn-watering session of the spring, you’ll need to do a 15-minute measurement. Pick an inconspicuous spot of the lawn and use a spade or screwdriver to test the moisture level down to at least six inches every 15 minutes. Once the soil is truly damp between six and eight inches, then you can stop. Record the time it took to reach that level and that is the amount of time you will need to use for future watering sessions. Knowing this, you can prevent overwatering that can bring disease and prevent underwatering that can lead to poor root strength.
- The tuna can method: Wash out some empty tuna cans, mark them one inch from the bottom and space them evenly around your lawn. Run the sprinklers over a couple of days and see how long it takes for the cans to measure one inch of water. Take an average of the time it took for one inch to accumulate and you should arrive at the right sprinkler time for your lawn. You may notice that some areas of the lawn get more water than others, so this is a good time to adjust sprinkler placement too.
If you notice that some areas of your lawn tend to puddle and not absorb the water efficiently, you may want to time the sprinklers to do a 10-minutes-on/10-minutes-off cycle to prevent puddling and allow the soil to soak properly.
4. How Much Should I Water a Newly-Seeded or Plugged Lawn?
These lawns do require more water to allow the seeds and plugs to get well established. You should keep the top inch of soil damp, but not muddy, which means you may need to sprinkler in short doses throughout the day so it doesn’t dry out. As the seeds sprout grass, water long enough to get the first two inches of soil damp to encourage the roots to dig deeper. Once the blades get to about three inches long, move to the six- to eight-inch deep watering cycle so that the roots continue to reach ever deeper into the soil. This should help you establish a healthy lawn with a strong root system.
5. What Kind of Grass Do I Have, and Does that Impact How I Should Water It?
The type of grass you have in your yard can also impact how much water it needs. If you need help determining what sort of grass you have, contact AllGreen Landscape Company. We do lawn health assessment in Nothern Virgina. Generally, lawn grasses fall into two general categories: cool weather grasses and warm weather grasses. Being in Northern Virginia, we often run across both types:
- Cool-Weather Grasses: A regular watering schedule as described above will help these grasses thrive, but work towards the eight-inch deep soil watering, rather than the six-inch depth, as they are not quite as warm-weather resistant. Fescue has a deep root system, so it has reasonably good drought tolerance. Perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescues endure drought by going dormant in hot weather if you don’t regularly water them. This means they’ll turn dry and brown over the summer, but come back to life when fall rains begin.
- Warm-Weather Grasses: Generally, these grasses withstand drought and hot weather better than the cool-weather grasses. Species such as St. Augustine, Centipede grass, Bermuda and Zoysia grow deep roots so they can endure drought conditions better.
Keep in mind that your soil type also matters: a clay-based soil will stay wetter longer, but sandy soils drain faster and may require more water. Also remember to factor in extra watering from Mother Nature: a good downpour may mean you can leave the sprinklers off for a day, so be sure to check the dampness depth of the soil so you can save water on those days.
For personalized lawn watering tips for your yard, contact AllGreen Landscaping Company in Falls Church today. We can assess your lawn’s health, species, sprinkler system and watering needs, so that you can keep a healthy lawn with the most-efficient, least-wasteful amount of water possible. Call us at (703) 992-8787 for all of your Chantilly lawn care needs!
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