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Watering Techniques

When To Water

We've put together some watering techniques to guide you through the lawn watering process.

Community Restrictions

To begin, it's always a good idea to learn and follow the water restriction guidelines in your community. In response to water shortages, many communities have laws in place telling homeowners how often to water, how long they can water for, and at what specific times they can water. It's important to know and follow these guidelines and restrictions.

Only When Needed

Limiting the amount of water you give your lawn isn't only about water conservation, although that in itself is a good awareness to have when learning proper watering techniques. Too much water is not a good thing for your lawn as it contributes to fungus and diseases.

Some types of grass require more water than others. At times temperature, humidity and wind can also affect how much water your lawn needs.

The best way to tell is to have a close look at the grass. If it's looking a little blue-gray and some of the established blades are curling or wilting, it's time to water.

An additional sign is foot printing, that is when you walk on the grass and your footprints remain instead of the grass blades bouncing right back.

When you see these signs on the grass, especially during the hotter temperatures of summer, it's time to hook up the hose and sprinkler.

Go Deep

One of the most important lawn watering techniques to note, is to water deep. Jim has given this advice over and over again throughout the years. A healthy lawn has healthy, deep roots. You're always wanting to encourage a strong root system.

Frequent and shallow watering produce shallow rooting, and encourage more weed growth. Shallow roots leave your grass plants more susceptible to certain diseases and drought.

As we already mentioned, water only when your grass really needs it to encourage good root development. However, this only happens if you water deep enough to actually penetrate the root zone.

Get familiar with your 'grass roots' by digging a small hole to measure how far the roots go down. In moist soils, a screwdriver can easily be pushed into the ground to the suggested depth. When it becomes difficult to insert the screwdriver this is an indication that the ground needs water.

Some grasses require different amounts of water and it is suggested that bluegrass would require you to moisten the soil 6 -8 inches, and that other grass types should penetrate 8-12 inches.

The Tuna Can

A good trick for proper watering techniques that we learned years ago to measure how much water is getting on your lawn, is to place a few empty tuna fish cans in different locations under the sprinklers watering path.

Keep an eye on the cans to see how much time it takes to collect 1/2 inch of water. Grass usually needs about one inch of water per week to keep it healthy and looking good. Now you can adjust the length of time to run the sprinkler before moving it to a new location on the lawn until the job is thoroughly done.


There are a number of different types of lawn sprinklers available in the marketplace. Have a look here for more details and help in choosing the right one for your lawn.


Some soil types will absorb water more quickly than others. Get to know your lawn and soil type as part of your watering requirements.

Run off can also be caused by too much thatch build up and over watering can promote lawn diseases.

When you see water starting to run off the grass onto the street or driveway, you are both damaging your lawn and wasting valuable water.

If this happens before you've been able to apply the amount necessary for your lawn, you might need to stop the sprinkler and wait 20 minutes for the water to get a chance to absorb into the lawn. Continue watering, rotating the sprinkler between areas to help absorption.

Handy Soil Gauge

To avoid runoff and to know how much water your lawn will need, it's important to know your soil type. One inch of water will usually penetrate
  • sandy soils to a depth of 12 inches
  • loamy soils to a depth of 6 to 8 inches
  • clay soils to a depth of 4 to 5 inches.

Mother Nature

Let Mother Nature do the work for you when she sends the rain. Avoid watering if rain is in the forecast. If rain is predicted for later in the day or even the next day, choose not to water.

Nothing is more wasteful than a sprinkler running while it's raining. If you're fortunate enough to have an in ground sprinkler system, include a rain sensor to automatically turn off the water when it is raining.

It's a good idea to use a rain gauge so you can measure how much rain has fallen. Then you can water more as needed.


  • The type of grass seed you choose can affect the amount of water your lawn requires. Rye, Bluegrass and Fescue require less water. Rhizomatous Tall Fescue uses significantly less water than the other Fescue types, and is known in the industry as 'the water saver'.
  • Remember to reduce the amount of water in shaded areas as part of your watering techniques regime.
  • Water south facing sloped areas or sunny spots on an otherwise all shady lawn by hand. They will require more water than the rest of the lawn watering regime affords.

Water Saving Tips

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