The second most important step to a healthy lawn, following closely behind fertilizing, is watering. Like fertilizing, it is possible to water too much. You don't necessarily have to soak your lawn. The important rule is to moisten your root zone. This can usually be achieved with one to two inches of water a week. Consider yourself lucky if Mother Nature takes care of this for you on occasion. Don't stress if you miss a week once in a while.
A healthy lawn can last several weeks without water. Although it may often turn brown, it doesn't completely die. Watering your lawn daily can actually do more damage to your lawn than watering every two weeks. Too much water can make your lawn susceptible to thatch and other diseases. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, make sure it is programmed to only apply the amount of water that your soil can absorb at one time. If you are having water run off you could be fined for wasting water.
To determine the amount of time you need to let your system run, observe how long it takes for water to begin running off. If it occurs after 15 minutes you will know that your system should only run for less than 15 minutes at a time. Another safe guard to effective watering is to measure how much water your system is supplying during this time.
If it is less than 1 to 2 inches of water, allow this water to soak in and let your system run more than once a day. After you are squared away on the amount of water to provide your lawn, the next obstacle is to determine how often you need to water.
There really is no set rule - every other day, once a week, or every third day. The best thing to do is be in tune with your lawn. By doing so, you will notice signs when your lawn needs a drink. Visible footprints in your lawn are one sign that your grass is wilting.
Next, if your lawn’s color starts to fade or even turns to another shade, give your lawn a watering.
If you notice a certain area in the lawn is starting to show some dry spots, or any of the above mentioned symptoms, check your sprinkler's rotation and make sure that water is reaching every part of your lawn.
A handy tool for the lawn enthusiast is a rain gauge (shown on right). It can tell you if Mother Nature has done some of your work for you or if you still need to add additional watering time. People tend to have many different theories concerning the best time to water the lawn. The morning hours are the best time to water. You will often find less wind at this time of day, which will keep you from watering the neighbor’s yard or even the street. The morning also allows your lawn drying time before dusk sets in. Entering into night time with a soggy lawn is a big mistake. This is an open invitation for diseases to invade your lawn.