Water Wise

(Family Features) Questions about watering the lawn can leave homeowners frustrated and scratching their heads. How much to water? When should I water? And what's the best way to water?

These tips will answer those questions and help you become water wise.

How much to water

While each grass type does best with different amounts of water, lawn experts agree that depth of watering is more important than frequency.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service recommends these rules of thumb for watering lawns:

  • One deep watering is much better than watering several times lightly.
  • Lawns need about one inch of water each week. If the weather is very hot, apply an inch of water about every three days.
  • Watering to a depth of four to six inches encourages deeper, healthier root development. It allows longer periods between watering.
  • To measure the water, put an empty tuna can (or cat food can) on the lawn while watering. Stop watering when the can is full or if you notice water running off the lawn.

Some grasses need less water than others. Some lawn experts recommend not watering until you see the beginning signs of stress. Look for footprinting - foot prints remaining on the lawn after walking on it - or the grass turning darker.

When to water

Time of year: Most lawns won't need much watering in the spring or fall. Let Mother Nature do her job and save you some money. Exceptions include newly seeded or newly sodded lawns that need to stay moist until roots are established.

Time of day: Watering early in the day, before 10 a.m., reduces evaporation and allows more water to reach the root zone. Mid-day watering is far less efficient due to evaporation and windier conditions. If you water in the evening, you're inviting fungus to grow on the damp blades of grass.

How to water

Home and garden centers are full of so many sprinkler options that it can be overwhelming. There are four basic kinds of sprinklers, and you may need two or more types to completely cover lawn and garden areas.

  • Stationary sprinklers have square, round and rectangular spray patterns. They are best suited for small lawns.
  • Oscillating sprinklers sweep back and forth, delivering water in square and rectangular patterns through perforated spray bars. They work well for medium to large lawns.
  • Rotary sprinklers have whirling heads that spray jets of water in a circular pattern. These are good for small and medium-size lawns and work well with low water pressure.
  • Pulsating (or impact) sprinklers are designed to handle large areas, but performance depends on water pressure. They apply water more slowly than oscillating sprinklers do and cover in full circles.

If you have in in-ground sprinkler system, adjust the sprinkler heads so they are not watering driveways or sidewalks.

A little water wisdom goes a long way. Knowing when and how much to water not only makes the lawn healthier, it helps conserve water and save you money.

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