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    Tractor Supply Company

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    Lawn Care Watering Tips: Best Way to Water Your Lawn

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    Grass gets thirsty. Most lawn grasses need a constant supply of moisture around their roots to grow well, especially during summer droughts. The best way to keep your lawn green and lush throughout the growing season is to keep it well watered. This article will cover:

    • How much water your lawn needs
    • The best time to water a lawn
    • Lawn water sprinklers

    In addition to grass, you’ll also learn how often to water trees and fruit trees. Read on for all you need to know for a healthy and hydrated lawn.

    How much water does a lawn need

    Start watering before your lawn shows signs of browning and stress. For best results, your lawn grass needs 1 to 2 inches of water a week—enough so the moisture soaks at least 6 inches into the soil. To find out if you are providing enough water, you can buy a rain gauge or follow these DIY steps:

    1. Mark a one-inch depth on an empty tuna can.
    2. Place it in your yard where you are going to water.
    3. Water your lawn for 20 minutes and check the accumulated amount in the can.
    4. If there is more or less than an inch of water in the can, adjust your watering time as needed.

    How much to water your lawn also depends on your soil type. Water runs more quickly through light or sandy soil, so frequent, light watering may be better for your lawn if you have this type of soil.

    What time of day is best to water your lawn

    Knowing the best time to water your lawn during the day makes a difference. If you water during a hot, sunny afternoon, you can lose up to 30 percent of that water to evaporation. The best time of day to water in hot weather is while the air temperatures are still cool, so more water gets to your lawn grass roots.

    During the summer, water early morning before the heat of the day hits. While the evening is another good time, you run the risk of starting lawn diseases. Water can sit on the grass blades all night, creating the perfect environment for fungal diseases.

    The best time to water the lawn in the winter is also the morning, but you’ll want to wait until the sun rises and the day warms up. Do not water if frost is present, as it can freeze on the blades and kill your grass.

    Which sprinkler is best to water a lawn

    The best way to water your lawn without a sprinkler system is with a hose and watering nozzle. This system works especially well for smaller yards with less surface area to cover. Watering the lawn deeply by hand once or twice a week helps keep your grass hydrated and healthy.

    For homeowners with a larger property, it’s best to use a lawn water sprinkler. The best sprinkler to water your lawn depends on your needs and the size of your yard.

    • In-ground, pop-up sprinklers are buried in the ground and turned on by a timer. Since you don’t have to move any hoses or even remember to water, in-ground systems are easy and fool proof. However, they do require professional installation.
       
    • Oscillating sprinklers are a less expensive and simpler solution. To use, hook your oscillating sprinkler up to a hose and move it around the lawn to ensure all areas get equally watered. Avoid watering walkways, driveways and sidewalks, which will only waste the water.

    Once you’ve determined which sprinkler is right for you, the next step is determining how often to water your lawn using your system.

    How often should I water my lawn with a sprinkler system

    To determine how long to water your lawn with a sprinkler to get that 1 to 2 inches it needs, follow these steps:

    1. Set up 8 to 10 empty cat food or tuna cans around the sprinkler.
    2. Mark a 2-inch depth in each can.
    3. Set a timer and run the sprinklers until the water reaches the mark in most of the cans.
    4. When the cans have the right amount of water, record how long you ran the sprinklers—that's how long you'll need to run them each week.

    Typically, 30- to 35-minute sessions are enough; double the watering time during hot and dry bouts. Aim to water every three or four days, splitting up the waterings to deliver 1 to 2 inches in total.

    How to water trees and shrubs

    In most cases, mature trees and shrubs do not need watering, but it is good to give them a soaking every so often in the hot, dry summer months. In droughts, even mature trees can experience water stress. Water trees if you notice wilting, premature leaf fall or unseasonal changing of their leaf colors.

    How often to water new trees and shrubs is different. Shallow roots dry out and make the tree or shrub unstable. Deep root watering helps newly planted trees establish strong roots by making them grow deep to reach the water.

    Whether you use tree sprinklers, a soaker hose for trees, basins, furrows or a drip system, the idea is to avoid runoff with your deep root watering system. To do this, you’ll want to:

    • Stay under the drip line (the extent of the branches)
    • Water slowly over a long period of time
    • Let the water soak in

    Shrubs only need extra watering for about a year after you plant them. The first summer is crucial, so be sure to water them well. Once your shrubs are established, additional watering is only needed if you live in dry areas or during a drought.

    How often to water fruit trees

    Fruit trees require more water than most other trees. When watering fruit trees, aim for two gallons of water per square foot of root space once a week or about two to four gallons a week.

    Location, rainfall and soil type can affect your watering. In dry areas or during hot summer months, you’ll likely need to water your fruit trees more often. If you are unsure, dig in a few inches to check if the soil is moist.

    Finally, it's not just water that keeps your grass and trees hydrated—the quality of your soil can affect water retention, too. Topdressing your lawn with compost each year adds organic matter to the soil, which is great at holding moisture. A lawn soil high in organic matter will require less watering.