How to Water a Lawn, and When: Odds Are, You’re Doing It All Wrong


Wondering how to water a lawn? Sadly, it’s not quite as simple as just turning on the sprinklers and walking away. The number of times you water your lawn throughout the year and how much water you give the grass matter—so if you’re foggy on the details, allow this latest installment of our Lawn Lover’s Guide to show you the ropes!

Read on to learn how to water a lawn, and when, how often your grass needs water, and a whole lot more to amp up your lawn care.

Why you should water your lawn

Grass may not be as difficult to maintain as a vegetable garden, but if you want to keep your yard looking green and gorgeous, you can’t just treat it with benign neglect. Aerating, seeding, and watering your lawn are all part of keeping your curb appeal intact.

“When you don’t give your lawn enough water, it grows with shallow roots,” explains Don Botts, the president of Quality All-Care Services, in Bonner Springs, KS. “This can stunt the growth of your grass and make it harder for your lawn to survive severe temperatures or disease.”

If you stop watering your lawn entirely, warns Chris Bartells, owner of Green Mountain Turf Sprinkler Repair in Lakewood, CO, you’ll start to notice brown patches emerging in a matter of weeks, as the grass begins to lose moisture.

“Pretty soon, your lawn will be more brown than it is green, the soil will harden, making it harder for water to penetrate it when you do water it, and will likely need a reseeding if you ever plan on restoring it to its former glory,” Bartells says.

There is one exception to the watering rule: If you live in a climate where it rains regularly or you’re going through a rainy spell, it’s OK to skip out on watering your lawn—it can actually be more harmful to your grass to overwater, increasing the risk of grass disease.

That said, you probably need to water your lawn, so let’s talk about how to do it the right way.

When to water your lawn

Before you even think about hitting the grass with a steady spray of water, you’ll want to make sure you know the best time of day to do it. Although many folks assume night time is best, most experts will tell you that’s a myth.

“There are a lot of people who are surprised to find out that watering your lawn at the wrong time of day can have such an impact,” says Botts. “Watering at night often means that water will sit on your grass overnight, which can lead to disease.”

Another no-no? Watering in the hottest part of the day. Although you may think your thirsty lawn wants a drink midday, the heat will cause evaporation to happen quickly, before water has had a chance to reach the roots of your grass.

The best time of day to water is in the morning, if possible some time between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m., Botts says. 

How to water your lawn if you have sprinklers installed

If you’ve moved into a home with sprinklers already installed in the lawn, you’re in luck. They will do the bulk of the work for you.

Bartells suggests placing a few empty cans of tuna or cat food in the spaces between your sprinkler heads, then turning your sprinklers on, allowing them to run for 15 to 20 minutes.

“Then measure how many inches of water is in each can, using a ruler,” Bartells suggests. “Average that by the amount of time you ran your system, and you should end up with a pretty good estimate of how long your lawn needs to be watered to get the full inch or two of water that it needs [per week].”

Depending on your soil type, you may want to water your lawn all at once, or break it into two or even three equal applications throughout the week. Longer stretches of watering are better for the lawn than quick daily sessions.

“You want deep roots, but watering them for short amounts of time daily instead of watering them for 20 minutes or so once a week or every other day is like splashing them with water without actually letting them drink it,” says Bartells.

How to water your lawn (without installed sprinklers)

Watering your lawn when you don’t have sprinklers means more work for you, but just looking at that gorgeous greenery will ensure that hard work is worth it.

Botts advises investing in a rain gauge, so you can determine just how much water your lawn is getting from nature. If it’s less than 1 to 3 inches, you can set up a rotating sprinkler (the type kids like to run in and out of during the summer works well), setting it in one part of the lawn for 15 to 20 minutes, then moving to spots that weren’t reached and allowing it to run again for 15 to 20 minutes and so on. The tuna can trick works here too, and will help you gauge just how long to run the sprinkler.

If you don’t have a sprinkler, you can use a hose, with the nozzle attachment set to “sprinkle.” Be sure to move around the yard, hitting all areas of your lawn with the water.

If your lawn has clay-based soils, you’ll want to water once a week, Botts says. If you have sandy soils, you’ll probably need to water every three days or so.

“If there are sloped areas in your lawn where water runs off quickly, spots where the afternoon sun roasts harder than others, or areas that are heavily shaded, you may have to pay extra attention to make sure that your lawn is getting enough water,” Botts adds.


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Tips for Watering Lawn in Summer

Watering the lawn efficiently and appropriately involves more than simply watering every day.

When the weather is hot, how can you tell if your lawn and garden are getting enough water?

First, it’s not necessary to water lawns and plants every day. As a general rule, more plants are killed through over-watering than under-watering.

Second, understand the properties of the soil in your area. Water penetrates and behaves differently in differing types of soil — e.g., sandy or loose soil vs. clay. Check with your local nursery for watering tips for your local area. Set up a system that allows effective watering with penetration of 6″ to 8″ below the ground surface.

The basic fact is that you’ll need to find out how deeply the water is penetrating into the soil. To do that, all that’s needed is a shovel. Pick an inconspicuous spot where you’ve been irrigating. About 30 minutes after watering, dig a small hole and use your hand to check how deeply the water has penetrated. In most lawn and garden situations, it’s best if water is penetrating 6″ to 8″ beneath the surface of the soil.

Check several locations to see if irrigation is even throughout the yard. If there are dry spots, you may need to modify your irrigation techniques.

Watering systems are not always uniform in how they disperse water. Even if you water regularly, you may find that there are wet spots and dry spots around your yard. To check whether your watering system is working evenly across your yard, here’s a trick you can use to test it. Take some plastic cups and place them around your yard before you water. You can place a few coins in the bottoms of the cups to prevent them from blowing over.

Once the cups are placed, turn on your sprinkler system. Water will collect in the cups as you water.

After watering for about 30 minutes, compare the level of water in each of the cups. You may discover that there is more water in some of the cups than in others. Frequently, areas within close proximity to the sprinkler receive less water than areas several yards away. You may need to check the directions that come with your sprinkler to make it apply water more uniformly.

For watering shrubs and beds, there are techniques and tools that are more effective than ordinary lawn sprinklers. Dripper systems use a hose attached to a faucet and timer. Small holes are placed at appropriate locations along the length of a polyethylene hose. Tiny adapters are inserted into the holes to allow small 1/4-inch hose branches to be installed along the length of the hose. Water emitters of various types are attached at the ends of the smaller branches.

Water emitters — such as small spray-heads — can be placed strategically beneath individual plants to deliver water exactly where it’s most needed.

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Another useful tool is the soaker-hose system. Like the dripper system, the soaker system uses a timer and a main hose to which smaller branches are attached. In this case, the smaller hoses are manufactured with “weeping pores” that allow water to soak out all along their length. Once the porous branches are attached to the main hose, and placed strategically at the bases and root systems of plants, the water is turned on. The soaker hose allows moisture to soak gently into the soil.

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Tackle These Projects Now For Curb Appeal Through Winter

Baby, it’s (going to be) cold outside, but that doesn’t mean your house can’t be warm and inviting.

Take these steps to ensure your house’s curb appeal lasts through the winter months.

With winter approaching, long days of sunshine, colorful fall foliage, and green lawns are coming to an end. So too are the hours spent outside, raking up leaves and washing your windows. But don’t fully retreat into your humble abode to hibernate quite yet — especially if your home is on the market.

There are projects you can start now, when it’s just starting to get cooler outside, to ensure your home will look gorgeous, warm, and inviting throughout the upcoming winter months — whether you have a home for sale in Burlington, VT, or Seattle.

Plant flowers that bloom in the winter

Fall is the time to plant early-blooming bulbs such as crocuses, which will flower in late winter, even if they’re covered in snow. Other bulb flowers such as daffodils and tulips are hardy enough to survive cold winter temperatures below ground and bloom beautifully in early spring/late winter. Perennials, shrubs, and trees also do well with a fall planting.

According to the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), the warm fall soil is great for root development, and plants have several months to establish themselves before the stress of the summer heat. Get your early planting done and enjoy a little taste of spring curb appeal while you’re still cuddled up in your flannel pajamas and slippers.

Install landscape lighting

Lighting is often overlooked but can make such a huge difference when strategically placed and tinted correctly. Consider sticking a few vintage lanterns along your driveway, or installing a soft-hued light bulb in your porch light. You could also light up your walking path with solar lights and finish off the look with some statuary or tree up-lighting.

Pro tip: Less is usually more for path lighting; too many lights, and you may create a runway effect.

Lawn and garden maintenance

Now is the time to make sure you’re helping your lawn make it through the winter, so your grass and other plants survive the harsh weather. NALP recommends applying 2 to 3 inches of mulch to protect plant roots from extreme temperatures.

The mulch barrier will also preserve moisture if your region doesn’t receive enough winter precipitation. Bonus: A thick layer of woodsy mulch lends a nice aesthetic touch to an otherwise barren landscape.

There’s not much you can do about brown, unsightly-looking grass during the winter months. But you can rake and remove the leaves that build up from falling foliage and winter storms. The raking work will pay off big time in the spring for lawn health and also keep it looking its best this season and into spring. A tidy lawn is the key for curb appeal in the long winter months.

Small upgrades and holiday decor

Alone, a new mailbox, doorknob, or set of address numbers on your house can seem inconsequential. But when replaced together as a set, these little details can make all the difference in the world — particularly from a distance. Now is the time to make a weekend project out of replacing all the small stuff for a big aesthetic reward.

From lights and greenery to candles in the windows, you can really get creative for the holidays with embellishments that won’t die off when the snow starts. There’s no need to get all Clark Griswold with the front yard, but tasteful, minimalist decor can really beautify your home.

There’s plenty to be done this fall to enhance your curb appeal through the winter months. Work to extend the interior’s cozy, well-kept feeling to the exterior of your home. Not only will you save yourself some maintenance in the spring, but also your home will shine all winter long.

Posted by Robyn Woodman on Trulia

Love Your Lawn? Follow These Guidelines

Americans are not bashful when it comes to expressing their love of lawns — it has been estimated that there are more than 40 million acres of lawn in the United States. But if you really want to show your lawn some love, you’ll have to do more than mow it. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to learn about your soil and climate, and then decide between sod, seed and a lawn alternative. If you are working with an existing lawn, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the proper way to water, fertilize and eliminate (or better yet, prevent) unwanted weeds.



If you count yourself among the lucky homeowners with land to spare for a verdant landscape, these guidelines should help you cultivate a beautiful lawn that will reward you year after year.


Before you decide on a Kentucky bluegrass, Bermuda or rye, find out which grass is best for your climate by consulting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zone map. Perform a soil test to see if you need to make any amendments before planting seed, and then follow these guidelines:

  • Till the soil and remove weeds, rocks and plants. Consider adding fresh topsoil mixed with an organic material to improve water retention, and a fertilizer to stimulate germination.
  • For small areas you can sow the seed by hand; for larger areas use a seed spreader. Cover the seeded soil with straw to protect the seeds and help them retain moisture. Section off the area to avoid foot traffic.
  • Water daily and do not mow the grass until it is at least 3-inches high. Water less frequently as the grass matures.


Laying sod is a great way to have a lawn without the wait, but it’s a big job. It’s best to lay sod during cooler weather so the grass can take root and avoid the risk of burnout. (Fall or spring are typically the best times of year in the North; spring is ideal in the South.) Familiarize yourself with how to lay sod before deciding if it’s right for your lawn.

Lawn alternatives

Lawn alternatives provide as much greenery and coverage as a regular turf but can be lower maintenance, hardier and even scent-filled. There are many varieties to consider — from micro clover to Corsican mint — so be sure to check to see which is best for your lawn, climate and upkeep.


Most lawns require about 1 inch of water per week. It’s better to give your grass a good soak every three days than to water a little bit every day. Your lawn will tell you when it needs watering, provided you know the signs. As you walk over the grass, your footsteps should readily disappear; if they don’t, you need to water. A bluish-green color and curling glass blades are also indicators of dehydration.

  • Watering less frequently encourages roots to grow downward (in search of water), which makes your lawn more stable.
  • In most climates, a deep, thorough watering twice a week should be enough to keep your lawn happy.
  • Water your lawn in the early morning, so there will be less evaporation. Grass will also have a chance to dry out before the sun starts beating down.


Grass requires small amounts of many nutrients (calcium, magnesium and sulfur, to name a few). Macronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are needed in larger quantities. A soil test performed by your local extension office will reveal what your lawn needs to succeed. The results of the test will include a range of information, such as your soil’s pH.

  • Cool-season grasses (including Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue) benefit most from fertilizer in the fall, at which time the added nutrients go a long way toward bolstering root growth.
  • For warm-season grasses (including zoysia and Bermuda), springtime fertilization is appropriate once the lawn is actively growing, about six weeks after the last frost date.
  • Using slow-release fertilizer prevents nutrient overload and lowers the risk that your application will contribute to shoot, not root, growth.


When choosing a lawn mower, take into consideration the size of your lawn, the presence of inclines and obstructions, comfort (if you decide to go with a riding mower), safety and maintenance. You want a mower that will suit your unique landscape and be user-friendly. When you mow,

  • Never cut more than one-third of the blade; any more will shock the plant.
  • Cut your lawn higher than the recommended rate during hot summer months.
  • Switch mowing directions to prevent turf wear and soil compaction.

Weed control

Familiarize yourself with common lawn-care problems, from dandelions and ants to brown patches. Learn to mitigate — or better yet, prevent — these pesky predicaments to keep your lawn healthy and lush all year long.

This article was originally published by Marisa Villarreal of on Zillow Blog. To see the original article, click here.

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

June gardening checklist

Here’s what to do this month to get your garden growing for summer. It’s time to plant summer-blooming bulbs, annuals and perennials. And it’s also time to care for the lawn.

© Emilio Ereza/Pixtal/agefotostock

© Emilio Ereza/Pixtal/agefotostock

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate June, but let’s start with just one: It’s summertime.

The solstice isn’t until June 21, but not all plants know that.

Lots of gardeners have already begun their summer planting and maintenance. A good way to start is to plant extra bulbs now for a burst of brightness later in the summer, when some of your early favorites have begun to fade. Dahlia, gladiolus, canna, crocosmia, tuberous begonia and tigridia are all good choices for a touch of garden drama.

Now that the weather is warmer, you can lower your water bills and impress your neighbors by watering at cooler times of day to prevent quick evaporation.

In many climates, early June isn’t too late to put annual seeds or seedlings in the ground. Plant sunflower, marigold, cosmos, sweet alyssum and zinnia. You can also plant seedlings of geranium, impatiens, petunia, coleus and Madagascar periwinkle; by now, the ground in most regions is ready for even the most tender vegetables and flowering annuals.

Annuals that have already bloomed should be deadheaded when the flowers fade.

‘Color spots’
For splashes of color in early summer, select bright nursery annuals already in bloom. They’re a great solution for the time-challenged gardener, and it’s more pleasant doing “dirty work,” such as dividing perennials and planting seeds, when you’re surrounded by chocolate cosmos and scarlet impatiens.

Plant color spots of annuals — usually sold in 4-inch, 6-inch or 1-gallon pots — to accent your garden with instant brightness. Be sure to water plants before removing them from pots, and water again after planting.

Perennials are June-perfect planters.

Plant flowering perennials of all kinds for late-spring, summer and fall blooms: Oriental poppy, foxglove, salvia, aster, columbine, delphinium, feverfew and heuchera are but a few. Add lamb’s ears, sage or dusty miller for foliage.

Perennials that flowered in the spring can be dug up and divided now to prevent overcrowding. Divide irises (whose rhizomes will need to be cut apart), Oriental poppies, primroses and Doronicum daisies.

Starting now and over the next few months, you can also free those perennial seeds from their packets and get them in the ground. Pinch off spent blooms to keep flowers coming.

Lawn care
The contest for greenest lawn on the block is far from over. By now you’ve surely been out mowing and have possibly reseeded, so keep up the good work.

  • If your lawn needs aerating, it’s still not too late to perforate away.
  • Overseed or reseed those stubborn scraggly spots.
  • Fertilize now, if you didn’t do it in April or May.
  • When it comes to watering, even if the heat is on, think conservatively: Your grass may take on a tawny tone, but it will spring back as the weather becomes cooler and moister.
  • After mowing, leave grass cuttings on the ground to recycle all those good nutrients.

Vegetables and herbs
In most climates, all herbs can be planted this month. And now’s the time to get veggies in the ground that you can enjoy on your table in the months to come.

  • The start of summer also means it’s your last chance for sowing squash and cucumber seeds.
  • Corn, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes should also be planted as soon as possible.
  • To expand your harvesting season, start planting successive crops of carrots, lettuce, spinach, chard, kohlrabi, beets, parsnips, radishes, turnips, bush beans and peas.

If you see signs of winter’s ravages on trees, shrubs or perennials, run — don’t walk — to give them extra food or correct problems such as mildew, black-spot and aphids.

  • All plants that are having a hard time springing back from winter should receive a mild feeding this month.
  • Fertilize roses now and each month through the summer.
  • Allow spring-flowering plants to bloom before you feed them.
  • Hold off on fertilizing tomatoes until their first fruit has set.

Permanent plants
In many areas, June is a good time for planting trees, shrubs, vines and ground cover. Check with your local extension agency or consult a reliable gardening book to see which species are best suited for early summer planting in your zone.

Fruit trees
Take care of fruit trees now to make sure you get your sweet rewards later in the season.

  • Thin Asian and European pear trees heavily now.
  • If it’s a “light year” for any of your apple trees, avoid pruning them — but the heavier fruit bearers should be thinned lightly after their unpollinated fruit has dropped. Remove one apple from triple and double clusters to encourage the growth of larger fruit.
  • If you find tent caterpillars in tree branches (they’re especially fond of crabapple and fruit trees), prune out the limbs and destroy the cocoons.

Pest control
Don’t let down your guard yet with slugs and other garden pests.

  • If you live in a moist climate, you’ll probably notice that slugs have been drawn out by spring rains. Now’s the time to put out shallow bowls of stale beer or sprinkle slugs with salt.
  • Stay ahead of aphid invasions by hand-wiping foliage, giving them a strong blast with a hose, or soaking them thoroughly with insecticidal soap. Repeat the treatment in five to seven days if you see signs of new hatchlings you might have missed.
  • You can also use soap on plant bugs that are pestering your shrubs, perennials or fruit trees.

This article was originally published by Sally Anderson of MSN Real Estate. To see the original article source, click here.