Between the heat, thunderstorms, and possibility of drought – watering your lawn during the summer in Georgia can be tricky. Water too much, and you’ll waste resources and encourage fungal diseases. Water too little, and your lawn will become sparse and yellow, inviting weeds and pests.
In honor of quick approach of Smart Irrigation Month in July, we are sharing our expert watering recommendations:
How much water does my lawn really need?
Most lawns need about 1 inch of water per week. This includes both natural rainfall and irrigation. Use a rain gauge to adjust your irrigation schedule. You can also add a rain shutoff switch or a “smart” soil moisture sensor to allow your irrigation system to automatically adjust for rainfall – which we seem to have in abundance so far this summer!
How long should I run my system to get 1 inch of water?
Calibrating your irrigation system is easy. Set out 5 – 10 identical containers throughout your lawn and let your system run for about 30 minutes. If your containers are light plastic, weigh them down with a rock or thick washer to avoid tipping. Measure the water in each container (after removing the rock!) and take an average for all the containers. Then do a little math to figure out how long your system will need to run to apply 1 inch of water.
For example, if your containers average ¾ of an inch of water in 30 minutes, divide 30 by 0.75 to calculate how many minutes you need for an inch of water. In this example, 30 / 0.75 = 40 minutes for an inch.
How often should I water?
It is better to water deeply and less often to promote healthy root growth, which naturally wards off weeds and disease. You can even apply the entire inch of water in one watering session. But, you should make adjustments based on your soil composition.
Clay soils absorb water slowly so split your watering into two sessions about 1 hour apart. Sandy soils absorb water quickly, but also dry out quickly. It’s best to apply ½ inch of water three days apart to keep the root zone moist.
Regardless of your soil type, water only to the point of visible runoff. Once water starts dribbling down the driveway or sidewalk, it’s time to split the watering session up. Water that runs down the storm drain does your lawn – and your wallet – no good.
When should I water?
It is best to water in the early morning just after sunrise. This will allow your lawn to dry before nightfall to reduce the likelihood of fungal growth. If you water in the heat of the day, you’ll lose 30% or more of the water to evaporation before it has a chance to soak into the soil.
What should I do if there is a drought?
In times of drought, it can be very costly (or even against the law) to water your lawn. Many types of turfgrass can go dormant during a drought. It’s Mother Nature’s way of helping your lawn survive the dog days of summer. As long as your lawn was healthy before the drought, it will recover well after the drought is over. Zoysia and centipedegrass can go 4 weeks with no water before suffering damage, many bermudagrasses can go 8 weeks, and our TifTuf bermuda is the most drought resistant turf available today.
A few final summer irrigation tips:
- Hire a pro to audit your system annually to make sure it’s in proper working order.
- Inspect your system monthly for leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads.
- Water in zones to account for differences in vegetation, slope, and shade.
- Avoid watering sidewalks, driveways, and structures to reduce runoff and waste.
- Aerate your lawn annually to promote adequate water absorption. Aerate Fescue in March, April, or October. Centipede, Bermuda, or Zoysia should be aerated in May, June, or July.
- Consider a low-volume micro-irrigation system for gardens, shrubs, and trees to improve efficiency.
Need expert turfgrass advice? Contact NG Turf at (770) 832-8608 or request a quote online.