As the days get increasingly hot and dry, it’s time to consider how you will keep your lawn hydrated. For most of the year, a lawn can receive sufficient water from rain. However, during hot, long summer days, your turf will need some extra help quenching its thirst. The following tips can help you when watering your lawn in summer, including understanding when and how to water. There are also tips for spotting the signs of overwatering and underwatering, which can cause problems if not corrected. Remember these tips to maintain a healthy lawn during a hot summer.
The Best Times to Water
Watering early in the morning is best to keep your lawn hydrated. The best times to water are typically between 6 and 10 a.m. Watering during this time allows the grass and soil to soak up the water. If your yard has good soil and healthy cool-season turf, the turf can be allowed to go into dormancy during the hot, dry summer months. You must understand that the turf will recover when rain returns.
If necessary, the best time to irrigate is when the turf is just beginning to show signs of wilt. This, of course, is not always easy to determine. Turf exhibits two prominent symptoms as it begins to wilt: (1) footprinting and (2) a blue-green or blue-gray leaf color. After walking across drought-stressed turf, the leaves will remain depressed for several minutes, providing the footprinting effect. When dormant turf exhibits footprinting or develops a blue-gray color under extreme drought conditions, it is very important to irrigate to avoid permanent leaf wilt.
How Much Water Is Needed?
If your lawn is under drought stress and you want to irrigate, the soil should be wet to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Frequent, shallow irrigation (for example, ¼ inch of water) encourages shallow roots. This makes turf vulnerable to drought and heat damage. Deep watering encourages the roots of grass plants to grow deeper into the soil. This indirectly enhances the drought resistance of turfgrasses by providing a greater reservoir of soil water for plants to draw upon.
The duration and quantity of water needed greatly depend upon the soil texture, structure, and thickness of the thatch. In many housing developments, lawns are grown on heavy clay subsoils deposited when foundations and basements are excavated. This type of soil resists water penetration and the downward movement of water (percolation) through the soil. In many situations, it is extremely difficult to get water percolation to a 4 to 6-inch depth. For this reason, water must be applied slowly on heavy clay soils or where hard pans and dense layers of thatch exist.
The Signs of Overwatering
Overwatering your lawn may cause more damage than underwatering. The soil contains pore spaces meant to contain oxygen needed for plant growth. Daily watering can push the air out of those spaces, suffocate the roots, and lead to a shallow root system. If your lawn is suffering from overwatering, you may notice these signs:
- Extra thatch development
- Fungus: look for thin or weak grass with a reddish-orange color
- Weeds: An overwatered lawn may develop hard-to-control weeds like nutsedge and crabgrass
The Signs of Underwatering
Of course, if you neglect your lawn too much, your turf will exhibit a few key symptoms. These include:
- Dry patches: look for patchy areas of straw-colored grass
- Visible footprints on the grass: Notice whether your grass bounces back when stepped on
- Slowed growth: If you don’t need to mow as often, your grass’s growth may be stunted
Warm-season grasses can often return from dehydration with improved watering, fertilizer, and aeration. Cool-season grasses can often benefit from core aeration and a seeding treatment every fall to keep the grass growing well. If you have particular concerns about watering your lawn in summer, contact a lawn care professional for insight into your unique landscape.
Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare
Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.
We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.