How much should I water my lawn?
I wish I could tell you that if you water your grass for X amount of minutes, X times per week, your lawn would be happy; however, that is not the case. There are a few variables to consider including: sod variety, amount of rainfall, age of sod, how much water your irrigation system puts out in a given amount of time, amount of shade, and season.
It is a common (and very wrong) belief that more water is better. What many people don’t know is there IS a such thing as overwatering your grass, and it can be detrimental to long-term health. Overwatering can increase the chances of disease in your lawn, as well as thatch build up, weed growth, and a shorter root system over time which will reduce the overall tolerance of drought and stress.
If you have an irrigation system, it is important to know how to properly use it (or have a maintenance company who can), as many times throughout our rainy season, it is important to turn off your system to prevent overwatering. Also, throughout various seasons, you may need to adjust the number of times your lawn is irrigated per week. Many irrigation systems have a rain gauge attached, that will prevent the system from turning on if too much rain is received in a short period of time (if the gauge is full).
According to the University of Florida IFAS extension, “Florida soils are typically sandy and hold 1 inch of water in the top 12 inches of soil. If the roots are in the top 12 inches of soil and the soil is dry, then ½ to ¾ inch of water is required to wet the area thoroughly.” Many sod experts in our area, including the UF IFAS extension, recommend watering on an as-needed basis rather than having a set schedule since our need for water fluctuates. A simple schedule to base your watering patterns off of would be to apply ½ to ¾ inch of water when your lawn starts showing symptoms of drought such as: leaf blades that are folded in half lengthwise, blue-gray tint to the leaf blades, footprints and/or tire tracks remain visible after they are made.
Don’t forget a couple important things:
- Many municipalities have watering guidelines – be sure to follow those to prevent fines or citations
- New lawns to do not apply to this, as they will need more water through the establishment period
- Most parts of Florida receive 50 or more inches of rainfall per year – many of which are during the months of late May through mid-October. Be mindful of the amount of rain received during this time, as not to stress your grass with too much water.