Frequently Asked Questions
There are no standard answers to these questions. These are however guidelines to determine the answer to your landscape's watering requirements.
How should watering cycles be set?
First, it is never a good idea to water daily. Every other day in the heat of the summer is a good rule of thumb. Lawns need a chance to dry out between watering cycles, including rainfall. Watering for longer periods of time and less often is better than more often with less water. It requires a lot of water to move water into the root zone and allowing it to dry out between waterings causes the roots to chase the deeper water which promotes a deeper root structure. Frequent watering with less water promotes a shallow root zone which becomes prone to stress such as drought, freezing weather (winter kill), diseases and insects.
What time of day should I water?
Early in the morning, watering systems should be off by 9:00 am. One reason is that 65% of the water used for watering after 9:00 am will be lost to evaporation. Another reason is that afternoon or early evening waterings, when the soil is still hot from the sun, increase the risk of disease development. Also, watering during the heat of the day can cause leaf scorching. Water droplets act like magnifying glasses increasing the sun's intensity which then can burn the grass blades (somewhat like sun burn on humans).
How do I know if I’m watering too much or too little?
Generally 45 minutes to 1 hour for each zone should be adequate, however this may differ from landscape to landscape and some areas within the landscape as well. Shaded areas require less irrigation than full sun areas, but are more prone to disease development because in many cases they are generally kept too wet. Dry turf will have a bluish silver look and if you look closely at the grass blades you will see that they are folding in half vertically, which helps the grass retain moisture. The solution to dry turf is to increase the watering duration for that zone. Change only the zones needing adjustment; if the rest of the yard is fine, leave it alone.
How often do the shrubs need to be watered?
Shrub roots are much deeper then grass roots, once established, which allow them to seek water deeper in the soil. Typically grass will dry out much sooner than shrubs so watering cycles for turf should be adequate for shrubs. Annual and perennial flowers may require additional irrigation. If they are not in a their own watering zone, you may need to hand water the flowers.
When should watering be scaled back for the winter?
As the weather starts to cool off in the fall or temperatures fluctuate 20 to 30 degrees between day time highs and night time lows, the turf will begin to slow in growth and soil evaporation will lessen thus requiring less water. From fall to spring we usually receive adequate rain to meet our watering needs. A rule of thumb for this time of year is that if the soil is moist, don’t water. During the fall, it is better to keep the turf a little on the dry side helping prevent the development of fungus, which is extremely difficult to control. Once fungus has set in, recovery is limited and usually won’t occur until the following spring when the turf is actively growing.