Lawn-care mistakes are common among well-meaning gardeners who water too frequently, confusing the number of watering sessions with getting the amount of moisture right. In the long term, a light amount of water every day is bad for general lawn health. It also wastes your time and money.
Here are some ideas to help get your lawn care routine just right, so you use less water and won’t need to rely on chemicals:
1. Establish the conditions
Your lawn’s most desirable watering routine depends on:
- Your lawn’s general health
- The local climate
- The drought-tolerance of your lawn variety
- Soil type and water absorption level
2. Water deeply, less often
A common mistake made by busy gardeners is to give a small amount of water frequently. The problem is that shallow watering evaporates quickly and even a sun-soaked lawn won’t benefit from your efforts or your time, even if watered daily.
To nourish a lawn over time, its lowest, coolest roots must be soaked. Infrequent, deep watering reaches these for crucial growth and long-term health, ultimately equipping your lawn to survive long, dry spells. The important exception is for newly-laid turf, which needs a frequent and deep watering regime for the short term, while it’s establishing.
3. Early morning watering
Avoid watering in the middle of the day, no matter how parched your lawn looks. Hot, dry weather will cause fast moisture-loss, effectively wasting your labour and your water.
Early morning is the most economical and beneficial time to water. Even at the end of a hot day, evening watering can lead to fungal diseases developing, due to the temperature drop after sunset.
4. Test water depth
Making sure you’re watering the root-zone is important and the good news is, it’s easy to check.
Professional landscapers use soil probes to measure moisture levels, as well as establishing temperature and nutrient levels. At home, you can measure water penetration quickly and easily, just by using a 25cm screwdriver.
The deeper your lawn’s moisture level, the easier it will be to push the screwdriver all the way in to your soil. If the dirt is too dry, it will be compacted. You won’t get far with the screwdriver and you’ll know your soil needs longer watering. But remember, soil type is a key factor using this method, so if your soil is sandy, it will always be ‘soft’ and you may need to find another solution for testing water depth effectively.
5. Signs of a dry lawn
A lawn can be drying out, well beneath the surface without giving obvious signals, but it’s time to water deeply and to think about starting a watering routine when:
- Longer grass is wilting
- Grass colour is fading, turning yellow or brown
- There is no spring in your lawn as you walk on it
6. Fertilising to prevent chemical use
After establishing the right deep-watering schedule for your lawn type and climate, remember the greenest lawns stay healthy and insect-free year-round when they are regularly fertilised.
Fertilising keeps lawn leaf-growth thick and healthy, which blocks access to the soil by weeds. With weed growth down, you won’t need to use chemicals on your lawn to treat them and the destructive pests they attract.
Fertiliser is easy to find at hardware stores and even large supermarkets. The task itself is simply a matter of sprinkling granules evenly across your lawn, according to instructions, during spring, summer and autumn. Lawns are dormant during winter, when you can usually take a break from maintenance.
About the Author: Charlie Muscat
In 1995 Charlie along with his father Sam and wife Anne started their turf business called Active Turf. They started with only a small 5 acre patch which has grown along the years to a successful company that employs 4 people.
Active Turf services the whole Sydney region and also provides turf to Newcastle area and Wollongong areas.