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When and how should I water my cool-season lawn?
Homeowners who want to keep their cool-season lawns green and growing during the hot months of July and August need to water. To stay green, cool season grasses need about one to one and a half inches of water per week either from rainfall or your hose.
Applying an inch of water can take about three to four hours with lawn sprinklers but if applied all at one time runoff may occur before proper water penetration is achieved. If this occurs, turn off the sprinkler and continue at a later time or date. If your hose is smaller or your water pressure lower than normal, it will take longer to water each area of your lawn.
One way to check your particular set-up is to place small straight sided tin cans at different locations in the sprinkling area. Catch the water for one hour. Then measure the depth of water in the can with a ruler to calculate the rate of your sprinkler. This simple method will also give you an idea of the distribution pattern of your sprinkler.
Refrain from frequent light watering. This encourages the lawn to develop shallow roots and makes it prone to damage if the top layer of soil dries out. Shallow rooted lawns are also more susceptible to disease and insect problems.
In addition, a great deal of water is lost by watering on a hot sunny afternoon. Watering in early morning is the recommended time both for saving water and also for limiting foliar disease problems, which can be more prevalent when the foliage remains wet over night.
Alternatively, you can let a cool-season lawn go dormant for the summer. See “How do I care for my dormant cool-season lawn?”