Sprinker spraying water on lawn with dry streaks

How to water your lawn effectively

Watering your lawn is easy... right!?

The summer is here and the water, for now at least, is scarce.  That is why you are reading this article right?  We all want our water bills to be as low as possible and for some, the eco perspective is as important.... but still, you want your lawn to look fantastic.

With so many types of sprinklers, ground moisture readers, smart moisture readers and legends about watering your lawn - we thought it was about time to tell you how... so you can get every last bit of value from that lawn treatment you are applying!

Dry grass is dormant grass.

Have you ever noticed that during the dry seasons, your grass growth is stunted?  It slows right down to preserve the moisture.  If the grass isn't growing, it isn't feeding.  If it isn't feeding, then then it's not getting the nutrients that you are paying for.

So if you are paying for lawn treatments, the chances are, you want those nutrients to be consumed.  

Weeds fighting back during dry spells?

Grass struggles in dry soils.... however, weeds thrive. Weeds often have deeper roots than grass, so if you haven't watered, you may notice an imbalance favouring weed growth. 

Too much watering can have adverse effects.

If you decide that you are going to match the British wintertime and water the hell out of your lawn, you are likely wasting nutrients.  Excessive watering can leech away your paid-for lawn nutrients.  This is especially true if you have sandy soils.

Responsive watering

Take the guesswork out of watering your lawn and give it what it needs. You can buy cheap moisture gauges on Amazon that will tell you the moisture levels of your lawn's root zone.  Remember to test different depths.  Your lawn's roots will go down around 1-2 inches.

How long should I water the lawn for?

Now here lies a question with lots of variables.  The question you should be asking is "How much water does my lawn need?" and not how long.

If you are looking for a specific time, you'll need to do some calculations.  Your lawn will require 1-1.5 inches (or 25 to 38 mm) of water per week.  If it rained recently, or rain is due - then you'll need to adjust accordingly.

Now you are empowered with the knowledge that it is how much water and not how long to water for, you may still need to consider how much rain water has fallen and still need to get the sprinkler out for a top-up when the rain stops.

Fine tuna your watering habits

Believe it or not, this is NOT a typo!  A used tuna can is the perfect way to know when you have given your lawn enough water.  Simply place the tuna can under your sprinkler and keep watering until it is full.  

Water just once per week and water deep.  This will ensure you are not just giving surface-level water, which is prone to evaporation.  It also means you don't have to continuously drag the hose onto the garden daily!

What is the best time of day to water my lawn?

Mornings are best, but evenings are OK if you cannot get out before your morning routine begins.  Try to do it when the temps have dropped to maximise benefits. 

By watering in the mornings the surface moisture that gets trapped in your thatch layer can fester and be the cause of disease.  The daytime sun will dry out the plant material (dead or alive) and still be able to consume that deep water that you applied.

Dry lawn = stressed grass

If your lawn is not watered sufficiently, it will be more susceptible to disease.  It will lose its green colour, in favour of a yellowing straw-dry colour and it will take a while to recover... so it's best to stay on top of it.

Check for hosepipe bans.

Sign up for your local water authority's text alert system.  Not only will they tell you about local water issues (including flooding and sewage issues), but they will announce when there is a hosepipe ban in effect.

Don't ignore hosepipe bans.  You could be fined up to £1000.  Instead consider harvesting water with a water butt or 10 and save them for a rainy (not rainy) day.

Watering new seeds

Watering new seed has a different set of rules as they don't have the root zone that we have been talking about previously in this article.  Instead water twice per day - keeping the contact area moist.  If you have overseeded, then continue to water well once per week, but keep the surface moist for the new seeds to germinate.

Dry weather & fertiliser application

All granular fertiliser treatments require watering in.  Do not apply fertiliser unless you have the means to water it in.  Wait for the next rainfall if you don't and seize the opportunity.

Make the most of the moisture you have

Using a fertiliser with high potassium – P will enable the grass plant to use the available moisture in a much more efficient way. It will also fend against disease from the stressed dry grass plant.

As the dry weather sets in and the soil dries out, the soil will become repellent to water (hydrophobic). No matter how much you water this now, water will just run off. Wetting agents reduce the surface tension of the water, allowing it to soak into the hard hydrophobic soil surface. This is known as localised dry spot/localised dry patch.

  • Traditionally a liquid application that lasts around 4 weeks – SATUGRAN is a granular option.
  • It spreads the same way as our fertilisers.
  • Its zeolite carrier (mineral) is coated in the wetting agent. The zeolite carrier absorbs water and releases it into the soil, so it keeps the soil moist and water in the root zone long after the wetting agent has won off.
  • Used on golf greens and sports areas that are subject to hot dry spells.
  • Great to assist the germination of seed.

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