A grass-plant is 85 percent water. The plant uses water for its cell structure, during photosynthesis (the process of making food from sunlight and nutrients), and to cool itself by a process called transpiration (the leaf gives off water to evaporate and cool the plant). If the plant doesn’t have enough water to cool itself, it will suffer from summer heat stress. Prolonged periods of dry weather can result in permanent damage to the plant.

Signs of a Thirsty Lawn:

There are a couple signs that your lawn needs watering. One is a change in color from green to a blueish green. The other is foot prints that remain imposed on your lawn for a long time. Grass is normally very resilient and springs back when you walk on it. However, grass that has started to wilt is not able to recover quickly from footprints. If your lawn shows either of these signs, it is definitely time to water.

Be sure to water deeply to encourage the roots to grow deep into the soil. (You should be able to put a screwdriver six inches into the soil if you have enough moisture.) Beware of shallow watering: this encourages shallow roots, which means you will be forced to water more often top keep plants alive.

Water slowly enters the small pores of clay soils. Therefore, over-watering can cause flooding, which deprives grass roots of oxygen. Allow them to partially dry before watering again. This gives air a chance to penetrate the soil. Sandy soils, on the other hand, must be watered frequently since they don’t hold much water.

Summer Drought:

Entire lawns can die during periods of extended drought. A single watering of ½” of water every two to three weeks will help the dormat grass plant survive until fall rains and cooler temperatures return.

Don’t Encourage Disease:
Waterings need to be scheduled to keep dieses from incubating. Wet grasses begin to incubate diseases after 12 to 14 hours. Since grass is normally covered with dew in the evening, avoid prolonging this dampness. The best times to water are:

  • 1. Very early in the morning (about 6 am) to wash off the dew.
  • 2. In the morning, about two hours after the dew has dried.
  • 3. In the later afternoon or early evening, but only if the grass can dry before the dew starts forming.

Note: During very hot weather your grass will benefit from a light sprinkling during the day. The purpose of this is to cool the pants, not provide soil moisture. (Golf course attendants call this “syringing.”) This is one “chore” your children are sure to love!

IDEAL WATERING: Adequate air space, with moisture at all depths. As moisture is lost, it is replace.

FREQUENT LIGHT WATERING: Grass blades tend to become limp with roots remaining near the soil surface.

LACK OF MOISTURE: Plant growth is stunted and tips brown. Feeder roots near the surface die back.

INFREQUENT LIGHT WATERING: Inadequate deep rooting leaves plant in depleted condition and can result in severe damage.