When it comes to summer lawn care, strategic watering, being careful about how much water you use and where that water is applied is really more important than ever, especially in areas of the country that are mired in drought. But even if you don’t live in a drought zone, a water-saving summer lawn care strategy is still an eco-friendly – and wallet-friendly – way to go.
So, how can you use water wisely and still maintain a healthy lawn even as temperatures soar and we find ourselves in the so-called dog days of summer? Knowing when and how much to water, what length to keep your lawn, the best way to use sprinklers and what to do if your lawn turns straw-colored will help you create an economical and effective summer lawn care regimen.
To make sure your lawn gets the most out of the water you give it, water early in the day, preferably before 6 a.m. This ensures that no water will be lost to evaporation – it’ll drain right down into the soil. Watering towards the evening is not advisable because if the grass “goes to bed" wet, there’s a good chance it could get a fungus disease.
Watering too frequently also does not do your lawn any favors. Don’t water daily. A good soaking once or twice a week encourages deeper root growth and keeps grass healthier.
When it comes to the amount of water your lawn should get per watering, that will depend on where you live and what type of grass you have. However, a general rule of thumb is to make sure your lawn receives 1 inch of water a week. An easy way to do this is to put out an empty coffee can before you water. After the watering is done, measure the amount in the can to figure out how much you’re putting down.
Cutting your lawn to the right length is also key to its health. You might think keeping it ultra-short will save you money, since you won’t need the mowers to come as frequently, but you’re actually doing damage. Cutting grass down to the nubs means you’re cutting back past the green part – the good growing part. That can make a lawn susceptible to disease, and it’ll take a long time to bounce back and look good. Instead, try to maintain it at 2-3 inches.
Worried that your lawn is dead because it looks like straw? It’s not dead – just dormant. Grass will take on a bleached-out color and coarse texture in hot, dry weather, but turn green again when weather conditions improve. In the meantime, it’s important to stay off the grass. Don’t walk on it and enforce the use of walkways and sidewalks. That’s because “dead” grass that is not harmed in dormancy will eventually come back to life, but grass that is beat into the dirt will not, and you’ll have to plant new seeds and wait for the lawn to grow again.
Finally, making sure your sprinkler system is targeted and “smart” will help you avoid wasting water – and paying for it. The best systems are operated by an adjustable, reliable timer and integrate special sensors that can tell when it’s raining or has rained and your sprinklers aren’t needed. Also be sure to adjust your sprinklers to avoid drenching driveways and sidewalks, which certainly don’t need the water as much as your lawn does!
With the right summer lawn care routine, your grass will remain healthy throughout the hottest months, your water bill won’t cause you pain, and the environment will thank you!