How often do you water your lawn? Is it as often as you should, or do you err on the side of overwatering? Unfortunately for many Long Island homeowners, it can be difficult to find the “sweet spot” between too much watering and not enough. Too much water and you encourage the growth of fungus, pests, and your water bill. Not enough, and you can leave your lawn stressed and unhealthy. If you’ve found yourself struggling with keeping your lawn properly hydrated, here are some tips that can help:
Water In The Morning
Long Island has warm, sunny summers. This is great for the growth of lush, green lawns and gardens, but can make watering a challenge. Water at night, and it can leave plants sitting around with wet roots — a surefire way to encourage rot. Water during the afternoon when the sun is at its apex and much of the water will evaporate before plants can soak it up. Water droplets also act as tiny magnifiers in bright sun, allowing rays of light to focus and burn leaves. The best time to water a lawn is in the morning when the sun is out but not yet at its peak. This gives plants ample time to drink without going overboard or scorching leaves.
Plants readily respond to their environment. To encourage strong root growth, it’s best to water deeply and less often, rather than give a light watering every few days. Light, shallow waterings only allow water to penetrate the first few inches of the ground — even with Long Island’s sandy, quick-draining soil. This encourages plants to lay shallow roots near the surface. To encourage deeper, stronger root systems, it’s best to water deeply and less often.
This forces roots to reach downward, deeper into the soil. Ideally, lawns should be watered down to the full depth of the root zone (depending on grass type, this can range from 6-18″). You can get an idea of how quickly your sprinkler system works by placing a container within its spray zone, and measuring the amount of time it takes to accumulate an inch of water. This will tell you how long you need to leave it on to thoroughly irrigate your lawn.
Once a Week, Twice at Most
It’s easier to kill a plant — any plant — by watering too often rather than not often enough. Dehydrated plants will wilt and brown, but can usually be brought back with a drink or two. Once an overwatered plant develops rot, however, it’s game over. As a general rule, lawns only really need watering once a week.
If your yard has sandy loam or loamy sand, you might want to bump this up to twice a week during the hottest part of the year. Some experts advise taking cues from your lawn, rather than following a regular watering schedule. When your grass begins to wilt or look dull in color, give it a thorough watering.
Watch For Signs of Overwatering
Long Island has temperate weather and lots of rainfall, so it’s rare for a healthy lawn to die purely from a lack of irrigation. Instead, you’re much more likely to encounter problems from watering too much. These can include a rise in insect populations, brown rings from necrotic ring spot fungus, mold, compacted soil, soil depressions, and shallow roots that pull up easily.
Before these crop up, you may also see leaves beginning to curl, or a sudden abundance of weeds. You can remedy these issues by cutting back on watering, aerating the soil, weeding thoroughly, and applying insecticide or fungicide as necessary. Remember: If you’re in doubt about whether your lawn needs water, it’s better to err on the side of not watering enough.
A healthy, emerald-green lawn is the pride of many a Long Island home. By following these watering tips, you can ensure that your yard stays as verdant and beautiful as possible, even through the hottest, driest days of summer.