Tips for Homeowners

Great advice to keep your lawn looking its best

How Often Should You Water the Lawn

When trying to determine the best way to maximize the water you use to maintain a beautiful lawn in Colorado and Wyoming depends on a variety of factors, like what type of grass you have, what microclimate you live in, what time of year is it, and how you’re mowing the lawn. Given that our area has suffered through years of drier winters, drought conditions and local regulations also play a role in how often you are allowed to water your lawn.

Check sprinkler system

The first step when setting up a watering schedule is to first turn on the lawn sprinklers and check to ensure that sprinklers are working properly and all the areas of the grass receiving uniform water. Make any repairs to irrigation lines or sprinkler heads as needed. If you’ve recently replaced your lawn, you may also need to clean some dirt or debris out of the sprinkler heads to ensure water flow from the head is optimal. We recommend checking your sprinkler system at least once a month. Following the winter months, please check for any broken or frozen lines that may show leaks.

Water more efficiently and reduce water waste: Older controllers and inefficient sprinkler heads waste a lot of water. Today, homeowners have more options to consider when looking at an irrigation controller and sprinkler heads that are specifically designed for uniformity and efficiency. In fact, some of today’s systems will now automatically adjust watering schedules based on the weather. If it has been more than a few years since you’ve made any changes to your irrigation system, this might be a good time to do some research into new technology and see if an upgrade makes sense.

Determining Sprinkler Head Volume

While checking the sprinklers, it is a good idea to check the water output levels to ensure your sprinkler heads are performing as they should be. The process is pretty simple. Set out several empty tuna cans evenly throughout your lawn. Run the sprinklers for 20 minutes. Measure the water level in each container to determine an average for all containers. Most sprinkler heads are sold based on the spread of water, and not necessarily the flow. Understanding how much water your sprinkler heads put out makes calculating watering time much easier.

Calculating the Water Requirements

As a general rule, most cool season grasses need 3/4” to 1 1/4“of water per week in the heat of the summer. Another general rule states that it is better to water your lawn 2 to 3 times a week for longer periods of time as opposed to every day for shorter periods. This allows the root systems of your turfgrass to better absorb the water they receive without becoming over saturated. During especially hot periods, add one extra day to your weekly watering schedule. Always water in the later part of the evening to early morning to reduce water evaporation.

Spot Check Your Estimate Water Applications

By carefully observing the lawn for a few weeks after changing a watering schedule, you will be able to see if you have adjusted your watering times correctly by the way the lawn grows. Overwatered lawns simply waste precious water.

Likewise, the signs of an underwatered lawn are also pretty clear. About 12 hours after watering, if the grass seems brittle and dry, or the soil appears to have dried or cracked, you probably are not watering enough. You may see some yellow/brown patches and you may notice that when the green grass is stepped on, it doesn’t bounce back right away.

Most lawns that have been over or under watered – even for quite a long time – can recover once the watering schedule has been adjusted.

If you are still unsure of your problem, seek out a professional irrigation installation company to review your yard and offer advice to your specific situation. For more professional assistance, contact: Colorado State University, Extension Service, Master Gardner

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