I look forward to spring and summer nights rolling around each year, not strictly for the reasons you might be imagining.
Yes, obviously it’s a lovely treat to sit in the garden with a glass of wine in one hand, my book in the other and relax in the evening sun. But what about the evenings when I’m fed up of the football on the TV or when my other half is just generally getting under my feet and on my last nerve?
Those are the times when I relish hearing the words, “I’m just nipping out to water the garden”
Bliss. Half an hour of peace for me and if I’m not mistaken, half an hour of peace for him too!
However, we have recently noticed that our neighbour’s lawn is much more vibrant and lush than ours.
Does the fact that he doesn’t water nightly have any bearing on this?
Absolutely!! When it comes to matters of lawn irrigation, for the best possible grass you should remember the mantra
DEEPLY AND INFREQUENTLY
Daily watering makes your grass roots become reliant, they realise that they don’t need to search deep in the soil for moisture as the daily soaking will soon be along. Shallow roots mean poor quality grass that easily becomes diseased.
Do not water daily. Just don’t.
You should give your lawns around an inch of water, which is all they need. Obviously, there are mitigating circumstances such as rainfall and temperature.
It is much better to water once a week for around an hour or so.
Let’s get down to the grass roots
Great lawn care will repay you by producing a great lawn! To achieve this you need to be regularly mowing, feeding and watering your lawn.
Nature wonderfully designed grass roots to seek out moisture in soil, and to use it effectively.
Roots will search deeper into the soil for moisture, as they elongate they become more able to gain nutrients and oxygen.
This lovely long, strong root system equates to a naturally heathier lawn.
If your soil becomes too saturated, the roots get stifled, they need air to breathe and oxygen to grow, too much water blocks this process. You will in effect, drown them.
This is how your lawn becomes more prone to fungus and disease.
How much is too much?
As a rule of thumb, your lawn should need around one inch of water each time you irrigate it. This could be rainwater, water from a sprinkler or a combination of both.
A well-established lawn that has dried out, would feel wet 6-8 inches down a short while after it had 1 inch of water.
Another way to measure is to use a tub, as long as it has straight sides and a flat bottom, it will suit. An empty margarine tub or jam jar will do.
Turn a sprinkler on and place your dish in the line of spray, and leave it for around 30 minutes.
At that point, you need to dip a piece of wood into the harvested water and measure how high up the wood is wet. If it is already at an inch, then you know that your sprinkler sprays out at an inch per half an hour, if it has only reached half an inch then you know you’re going to need to leave it for an extra half an hour. It should be relatively simple to calculate how long you need to leave it running.
If your sprinkler system covers your entire lawn surface then that’s perfect, if not you will need to move it around after each cycle to ensure the whole lawn gets a sufficient drink.
Let’s get technical
Meteorologists create weather data for individual regions, precipitation charts give us a clear of indication of how much rain has fallen and how much the soil will have evaporated.
This is called evapotranspiration.
The chart might show that on a given week, the rainfall will have evaporated by one quarter of an inch each day, meaning that on the fifth day it will be ready to water one inch again.
However, during those 4 days it may have rained half an inch, so you would need to wait another couple of rain free days before needing to water again!
Now, if you’re anything like me and really couldn’t be bothered to study charts and get your calculator out, then a very, very simple guide is to wait until spring when the weather turns dry and warm and water your lawns well, once a week.
When summer arrives, providing we’ve had no thunderstorms and torrential downpours, then water every 4 or 5 days.
If we are lucky enough to have an Indian summer that runs well into September and even October, then once a week should do it.
Other than this, we all know that we can rely on the good old British weather to irrigate our lawns!
What time of day is best to water the lawn?
I Remember my partner right back at the beginning, out in the evening, watching his sprinkler system? Well he could not have got it more wrong!
Watering your lawn at night is a definite no-no, the air is cooler which means the soil stays too wet for too long. This just encourages disease and fungus!
Watering in the heat of the afternoon sun is also not a good idea; the water evaporates too quickly meaning the roots will get a decreased amount of moisture.
Perfect watering time is between 6 a.m and 10 a.m.
If this is impossible, how about trying to move your watering routine to weekends or investing in a timer switch on your sprinkler system?
To care for your lawn well, cut it on your lawnmowers highest setting so not to stress the grass, feed it routinely and irrigate it well.
Remember, never water it daily, if your grass seems a little brown, dry and looks like it is dormant, if you have treated it well, it will always bounce back.
By filling the soil to its maximum profile level, usually that one inch, deeply and infrequently, you will have a beautiful, lush lawn just like my neighbour’s is!
I can only hope that my other half pops round there to admire it every evening this summer!!