One minute your lawn is that deep lush green and the next minute it’s starting to look…parched. Reality check? You needed to water days before you notice. The signs of a drying lawn aren’t immediately obvious. When grass wilts, doesn’t spring back, and loses its green color (often turns purplish or grey), it’s time to water. When it’s brown, you’re going to need to pull off a resurrection. And before you drag out the sprinkler, double check to make sure there are no watering restrictions.
So, how much water does your lawn actually need? First, you need to pay attention to the type of grass you have. Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescues are drought tolerant. Bermuda grass typically does well in heat, but will go dormant in drought. Zoysia grass grows very deep roots and is hardy in drought and heat.
Another thing you need to take into consideration is the type of soil you have. Clay soil can hold large amounts of water and needs less watering overall. Sandy soil drains faster and needs more frequent watering.
Regardless of the grass type, daily watering is not recommended—think couple soaking thundershowers, not daily sprinkles. Allowing the lawn to dry out encourages a stronger root system.
Watering in reality can be a time consuming unless you have a (costly) automatic sprinkler system. If you have municipal water, factor $5-10 for every 1,000 square feet of yard. If you’re on well water, break up watering into blocks to ensure you don’t run your well dry or burn out your well pump.
Finally, to really dial in how much water your individual lawn needs, you can check the soil yourself. Cut a small section—if it’s dry to four inches or deeper, it’s time to water. After watering an area, cut another section and check again. Water until it’s wet four to six inches then move the sprinkler.
With a little attention, you can keep that lush green lawn.
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21