How often should I water my lawn?
This is a question that we get quite often actually, and it is a really good question at that. The answer isn’t always so simple or easy, but we can certainly get you going in a good direction with it. There are a couple of key variables that factor into how often you should be watering and how much water you should be giving your lawn. These variables include: what type of grass do you have in your lawn, what type of soil do you have in your lawn, and what time of the year we are in. So let’s first touch on why it is important to have a proper watering schedule, and what that schedule should look like based on what your lawn consists of. Keep in mind that we are based in Southwest Missouri and that your watering situation may look different depending on where you live. Now let’s get to it!
Why It's So Important
Watering your lawn can make all the difference in your lawn surviving the summer or dying when those hot dry days show up. Last year in 2022, we experienced a fairly severe drought that harmed a lot of plants and lawns. Even lawns that had irrigation struggled through that experience. We had one particular customer that needed to have their irrigation output increased by 210% in order to keep the lawn healthy and green throughout that drought. Now, most summers aren’t as bad as what we experienced in 2022, but they can still take their toll. And really what this does is allow your grass to continue to strengthen and deepen those root systems. That is some of the best natural defense systems that a lawn can have against a drought. But to get those root systems to grow deep and strong, you need to have them watered on a good schedule.
Type of grass
Different types of grass require slightly different amounts of water. For the most part, they are all very similar, but there are slight differences. The biggest differences will come from the type of soil that you have, but that’s the next section. Here in Southwest Missouri, we most commonly find tall fescue, zoysia, and bermuda lawns. One thing each of these lawns will have in common is the recommendation to water 1 to 2 times per week. Now let’s get into those slight differences.
Tall Fescue: Tall fescue can handle quite a bit of water. On average you should try giving your fescue lawn between 1 and 1 1/4 inch of water each and every week. When we start experiencing extreme heat and dry weather, then 1 /14 to 1 3/4 inch is recommended per week. The recommendation to water really heavy less frequently is to allow the roots time to grow downward and stronger, this will help the lawn to be more drought tolerant than lawns that are simply watered with less water more frequently.
Zoysia: Zoysia is a warmer season grass, and doesn’t require as much water as tall fescue. Here you can get away with 3/4 to 1 inch of water per week. Water it 1 to 2 times per week and make sure they are heavy watering those times.
Bermuda: Bermuda is also a warm season grass, but it can handle more water like the tall fescue. Bermuda likes 1 to 1 1/4 inch of water per week. Very similar to fescue.
Type of Soil
Soil type can have the biggest impact on how often you should be watering your lawn. In fact, your soil type and composition can almost trump anything we talked about and recommended above based on type of grass that you have. Here are the 2 main soils we come across here:
Clay soil: Soil that has a lot of clay in it can really hold on to water for a few days, so you’ll want to water less often, but more deeply. You really want to make sure that the water is penetrating down about 3-4 inches into the soil, and that can take a bit of time with clay rich soils. But once that is achieved, the soil will hold onto that water for a good 3-4 days before it is used up by the lawn or surrounding plants or has simply evaporated. Don’t water clay heavy soils every day. This will cause for more fungi and diseases to grow in your lawn.
Silt Loam: This is the most common soil for our area. It is a mixture of clay, silt, and sand. Plus we have a lot of rocks (we practically grow rocks). This type of soil does drain better than strictly clay heavy soils, but we do have a decent amount of clay to work with. It has a moderate absorption rate and a moderate retention rate. So you will still not necessarily want to water every day, but you will want to water a little more frequently than clay heavy soils. Water this type of soil deeply every 2-3 days depending on how well it is holding onto water.
Ultimately, you need to find out not only what type of grass you have, but more importantly what type of soil that you have. This will help you to better know exactly what is needed to keep your lawn healthy and happy all season long. On average though, you’ll want to water less frequently (say, 2 times per week) but really heavy on those days. And make sure you are water early in the morning as opposed to the middle of the afternoon. Hope this helps! Let us know down below if you have any questions or comments. Thank you!