Giving your lawn too much water can be worse than not giving it enough. Here's how to get it just right.
Step 1: Determine your lawn's water needs Determine how much water your lawn needs. The general rule is one inch of water per week, but different grasses require different amounts. Ask your local gardening center, or contact an area Cooperation Extension Service. Find it on the USDA's web site.
Step 2: Calculate your watering Once you know how much water to use, calculate how much water you're actually delivering by placing empty cans around your lawn and running your sprinkler for 20 minutes. Measure the depth of water in each can and calculate the average. If you water by hand, put one can in the path of a patch of grass you are hosing.
Step 3: Water only when needed Don't water your grass if an inch of rain or more is predicted. Overwatering can lead to crabgrass and fungi.
Step 4: Do it at the proper time Water in the early morning or early evening. If the temperature is high, some of the water will evaporate before it gets to the roots.
TIP: Watering at dawn is more efficient than any other time of the day.
Step 5: Choose watering frequency The best watering schedule for your lawn depends on your soil type. If you have clay, you may need to water daily to avoid runoff. If you have a sandy soil, you'll be better off watering just once a week.
TIP: Frequent, shallow sprinklings are a leading cause of weeds.
Step 6: Go easy on slopes If your lawn has a sloped area, water it just until water begins to flow off, and then wait several minutes for the water to be absorbed before resuming. Otherwise, much of the water will be wasted in runoff and the lawn won't get what it needs.
Step 7: Consider using rain barrels Consider setting out barrels to collect rainwater from your roof that can be used during dry spells. It's a great way to help conserve water.
FACT: One-third of all residential water is used to water lawns and landscapes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.