If you’re spending more time at home and in your yard, you might be tempted to water the lawn often—but don’t. This is a critical time for your grass; spring is when it grows its feeder roots that capture water all season long. Resist the urge to spoil your lawn. Don’t let its roots get used to over-watering, or it can have negative effects for the rest of the season.
Over-watering can cause turf roots to remain shallow in the top inch or so of soil. Shallow roots dry out sooner, causing stress and brown spots that beg for water. However, if that top area of soil is allowed to dry out while the roots are in growth mode, the roots will grow deeper in search of moisture. By encouraging those water-seeking roots to grow deep, we help develop a healthier, more water-wise lawn. In the heat of July, the deep-rooted lawn will be less stressed and require less water.
Tips to promote spring root growth
If there is a good spring rain every 7-10 days, don’t water.
As the days get warmer and especially, if there is wind, increase watering to about every 5 to 7 days.
If there is no precipitation, it is OK to water. Test soil moisture first by probing the lawn with a screwdriver. If it is hard to push the screwdriver into the soil, that indicates it’s time to water. Exception: Pay special attention to south-facing slopes which take a beating from the sun and can have winter kill. Check these areas frequently and water them when they become dry.
Cycle and soak. Watering all at once creates run-off—wasted water your lawn won’t get to use. Instead, break the watering time into three intervals so that the water runs for about 5 minutes and then take a break. This break gives the water time to soak into the soil.