The grass plants that make up your lawn need water to live. Without it, they can’t photosynthesise (create energy), or move nutrients around their leaves.
The grass plant obtains most of its water from the soil. If the soil is left to dry out for several days, the grass plants growth will start to slow down. If left without water any longer, the grass plants will go dormant, and will eventually dry out. In most cases, the grass plants will start to grow again once they have access to water. However, allowing the grass plants in your lawn to dry out will reduce the quality of your lawn when they do start to grow again.
Alongside lawn mowing, watering is one of the key factors that will determine the overall quality of your lawn, and the benfit your lawn will get from our treatments and services.
How do I know if my lawn needs watering?
There are several signs to look out for:
1. The first sign that your lawn will show is one that isn’t so obvious. WHen the grass plants in your lawn detect a lack of water, they will enter a survival mode. This will force the grass plants to try and reproduce by creating seeds.
Above: Grass seeds will rise above the lawn in an attempt to reproduce when in survival mode.
2. If your lawn is left unwatered or there is a reduced amount of rain for much longer, the soil in the first few inches of your lawn will dry out, and the grass plants will not longer be able to sustain their green leaves. Areas of lawn may start to go brown quicker than others. These areas are referred to as localised compaction and are often areas that are most walked upon. Although, in some lawns, localised compaction can happen anywhere.
Above: AReas of localised compaction where the lawn has dried out quicker than surrounding areas of lawn.
Watering your lawn
Watering your lawn is the only way of giving the grass plants access to water during periods of low or no rainfall. Our advice focuses on how to water your lawn in the most effiicient manner whilst minimising the amount of water required.
The biggest mistakes our customers make when watering a lawn
The biggest mistake that is made when it comes to watering is thinking they have watered enough. Giving your lawn a quick sprinkle every few days when there has been no rain will have very little effect.
It is important that the water penetrates the surface of the soil and reaches down to the root zone, so even though the surface may seem wet, the soil itself can still be bone dry if it is not watered enough.
When is the best time of day for me to water my lawn?
The best time of the day to water a lawn is after the sun goes down. There are many reasons to water your lawn at this time. For example:
a. Water is evaporated by sun light – Most watering systems create a spray or a mist that is sprayed over the lawn. Watering when the sun goes down will maximise the amount of water that reaches the soil. When the sun is up, water that does find it’s way to the soil level can still evaporated away from the soil, further reduing the amount of water that penetrates through the soil.
Water that does manage to make it to the surface of the lawn can still be evaporated if it doesn’t soak in to the soil straight away.
b. Water droplets that fall on to the leaves of the grass plants can cause burns as they magnify sun light – This is similar to concentrating a magnifying glass on a small area.
What equipment do I need to water my lawn?
When it comes to equipment, there are a few different options available that can be used to water your lawn.
At it’s most basic, watering can be carried out using a garden hose and a sprinkler. There are various different types of sprinkler, all of which do very much the same thing. Oscillating sprinklers will create an arc, watering your lawn in a reactangular shape. Impulse sprinklers will water your lawn in a circular pattern.
To ensure your lawn is watered at night, you can install a timer that will automatically turn the sprinkler on and off at set times.
An impulse sprinkler will water your lawn in a circular pattern
An oscillating sprinkler will water your lawn in a rectangular pattern
Installed Irrigation System
A more advanced method is to use an installed irrigation system. These are installed in to your lawn, and there a variety of different sprinkler patterns available to ensure the irrigation system covers your entire lawn. The installation of an irrigation system will cost more than just a regular sprinkler, but in most cases can be alot more efficient.
What is the best method of watering my lawn?
The aim of watering a lawn is to ensure water penetrates the surface of the soil, down in to the root zone. Applying too much water in one go can cause puddling, and may reduce the amount of water that eventually reaches through the soil. To maximise the amount of water that reaches through the soil level, it is best to water using the following rule:
1. Water an area for 30 minutes.
2. After 30 minutes, stop watering and allow the water to soak in to the soil.
3. After another 30 minutes, start watering the same area again, and water for another 30 minutes.
Lawns that have a layer of thatch will require more water as the thatch layer will act like a sponge and will absorb alot of the water.
How do I know when my lawn is sufficiently watered?
The most important area of the soil that must remain wet at all times is the first three inches. This is the area where the grass plant’s roots grow. It is difficult to calculate how much water is required to maintain a sufficient level of water in this area, so visually checking is the best way. You can dig a small hole and check how far down the soil is wet.
The most important area of the soil zone that must remain wet at all times is the first three inches. This is the area where the grass plant’s roots grow. It is difficult to calculate how much water is required to maintain a sufficient level of water in this area, so visually checking is the best way. You can dig a small hole and check how far down the soil is wet.
In most cases, following our watering guide above will give your lawn a sufficient amount of water, assuming you water at night and there is no more than the average amount of thatch over the surface of your lawn.
Is there anything else I can do to help maximise the amount of water that is retained in the soil?
Yes. You can spike your lawn. Spiking is the process of creating small holes in your lawn. This can be done using a rolling spiker, or even just a garden fork. It is easier and better for the grass plants if you do this when the soil is wet.
By creating small holes in your lawn, you are giving water a space to hide from the sun to prevent it from being evaporated. It also allows the soil around the holes to slowly soak the water in. If your lawn has thatch, spiking will not only help water reach the soil layer, but will also help to reduce the level of thatch by improving the airflow around the thatch layer.
You should prioritise the areas of local compaction first.
Are there any lawn treatments available to help maximise the amount of water applied to my lawn?
What happens if I don't water my lawn?
The grass plants will eventually become dormant, and will dry out. Your lawn will look very brown and yellow, and weeds will start to take over fairly quickly.
The soil will start to develop areas of localised compaction (see above), and will require some form of renovation to fix.