Yard irrigation is essential to your lawn’s health. Good watering habits help grass roots grow stronger, making the lawn more resistant to weeds, diseases and drought. Despite its importance, there are many common lawn watering mistakes that can do more harm than good.
It’s important to note that watering requirements vary by soil and weather conditions. You should check with a local lawn care specialist to figure out the best irrigation practices for your yard, in order to get the best results. That said, here are some lawn watering mistakes that can hurt your lawn’s development:
Watering too much will not help your lawn. Excessive yard irrigation encourages shallow root systems, which makes grass vulnerable to heat stress. This means your lawn will be more susceptible to drought and will have a much harder time recovering.
The lawn can also become waterlogged, inviting fungus and other lawn diseases. Needless to say, a squishy lawn doesn’t look good. Imagine how much worse it would be if fungus starting growing there too!
Just as watering too much can damage your lawn, watering too little can have similar negative effects. While it’s best to irrigate deeply and infrequently (typically providing 1/3 an inch of water three times a week), under-watering can weaken a lawn’s resistance to drought. You can’t rely on rainfall alone to keep your grass healthy—especially for newly planted lawns. Make sure your lawn gets consistent irrigation during the growing season.
Watering Grass and Shrubs with Equal Application Rates
Unlike grass, shrubs and other garden plants have large root systems. As a result, they do not need as much water to stay hydrated. Most shrubs and garden plants need half as much water as lawns do. It’s best to water your grass and plants separately, so that you can keep track of how much irrigation they’re all getting.
Misusing Irrigation Heads
Don’t turn on your sprinkler system during rainfall. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s critically important. This can lead to over-watering, as can watering just hours after it rains. A generous amount of precipitation should keep your lawn hydrated for a few days.
Likewise, you’ll want to keep tabs on your sprinklers. Yard irrigation often goes awry when some grassy areas get more water than others. Make sure your sprinklers are covering the lawn equally, while also factoring in the differences between sunny and shaded areas. Also make sure you’re not wasting water; it’s not uncommon for an unadjusted sprinkler head to spray water into the street. Of all the lawn watering mistakes, this is the easiest to fix.
Using Different Types of Irrigation Heads at the Same Time
Each type of sprinkler outputs a certain amount of water over a given timeframe. For example, rotor heads provide about 0.1 to 0.25 inches of irrigation per hour, while spray heads provide 1.35 to 2.15 inches per hour.[i] Spray heads and rotors should not be on the same irrigation zone.
Watering at the Wrong Time
The early morning is the best time to water (before 9am), when there is less sunlight and less wind. If you water in the heat of the afternoon, much of it will evaporate before reaching the grass roots. Watering in the evening is worse, because it creates conditions that attract lawn fungus. Try to water your lawn between 6 and 9am.
What’s your yard irrigation strategy?