In most years in Michigan by July the average homeowner is waging a war against yellow grass, not because of disease, but because of heat and drier conditions. The sprinklers go on, the kids get wet, the water bill goes up, and the grass lives through another summer. This summer because of abnormally wet conditions, everything is still lush and green, but how much water does a lawn need to grow and thrive?
During hotter conditions, your lawn needs much more water because much of the water evaporates before your grass roots can absorb it. This is why it is better to water during cooler parts of the day like early morning – temperatures are lower then, and plants can slowly soak up what they need. Grass, in particular needs that luxury of time because, compositionally its about 85 percent water itself. What’s more, grasses root systems are comparatively shallow, so once the water has filtered through the first inch or so of topsoil, its out of reach for good. Plants with deeper roots and more water storage capability are less stressed by temporary heat and drought.
Soil type matters as well. Water filters through sandy soils very quickly and will pool in soils with high clay content. But no matter the soil composition, a pattern of slow steady soakings with periods in between to allow for drying out is best. Everyday watering will produce grass with very shallow root systems that are then more vulnerable if watering does not occur for some reason.
On a hot, sunny day, an average lawn requires 125 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet. The same lawn might need only 10 gallons on a cool and cloudy day. To test whether your lawn currently has adequate moisture content, push a long screwdriver into your grass. If it pushes easily in, your lawn has enough water. When your lawn is dry, test how long it takes for different parts of it to get moist enough from the time you start sprinkling. Then you will have a good idea of the amount of time you need to water. For the mathematically inclined, there are formulas available multiplying total square footage by .623 and dividing the result by gallons per minute (on average, 12). Either way will give you a good idea of how much water and time you need to invest in keeping your lawn alive and beautiful.
PROCARE is always happy to answer your lawn-related questions and assist you in caring for your lawn. Call us today if we can be of further help to you and your lawn and gardens.