Lawn: watering

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Careful. You can do more harm than good.

Most lawns in New York rarely require watering, except possibly for a few weeks in summer.

Under all but the most severe conditions, it is better to avoid lawn watering, especially if your watering system isn’t precise.

Too much or too little supplemental water can weaken plants, making them more susceptible to pest problems.  If the lawn is in good shape, grass that goes dormant under drought conditions will recover when cool, moist conditions return.

If you do choose to water, it’s important that you water right. Poor watering practices can do more harm to your lawn than good, and it can carry pollutants out of your yard and into surface and groundwater.

 

When?

The best time to water is early in the morning; between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. Evaporation is low at this time so more of the water makes it into the soil. Also, leaves will begin drying quickly in the morning sun, reducing the chances of diseases. Avoid watering on cloudy days or at night.

 

How much?

It’s tough to say. It depends on the species of grass, soil type, cutting height, use, temperature, wind and a host of other factors. But in general, a healthy lawn loses about 1 inch of water per week during summer.

If you receive an inch of rainfall every week through summer, chances are pretty good that your lawn should come through with little moisture stress. If you get less, you can make up the difference through sprinklers or an irrigation system. Your water application rate should supplement what you receive as rain. If you get ½ inch of rain one week, only apply another half inch.

Use a rain gauge, coffee cans or other containers to measure rainfall and supplemental water.

 

What can I do to prevent water stress?

• Plant grass species that require less water, such as fescues.

• Mow grass higher, encouraging larger root systems.

• Avoid spring N fertilizer applications.

• Leave grass clippings.