If you said yes, you are correct. Lawns can be overwatered. Too much water weakens the grass, makes it more susceptible to disease and causes “shallow root syndrome.” How much water do you use? To protect public health and safety, as well as our natural resources, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs recommends a maximum water use of 65 gallons per person per day. Watering one inch of water on a one acre yard consumes 26,000 gallons! That’s more than a standard 16’ X 32’ swimming pool!*
Follow these simple guidelines to train your lawn to be more drought-tolerant, ultimately saving you both time and money.
Let your lawn tell you when it’s thirsty
Watering needs can’t be determined by a clock or calendar, but by a combination of factors including grass type, soil type, drainage and exposure to sun and shade. Do the Walk Test to determine when your lawn needs water. Does your grass stand up straight after being walked on? If not, your lawn is thirsty. Walk across your lawn and look back. If you can still see your footprints after a few minutes, your grass needs water.
Water deeply but infrequently to prevent “shallow root syndrome”
Deep watering encourages strong, deep roots, which helps the lawn withstand drought and disease. Healthy lawns generally need only one inch of water per week (set out tuna cans or plastic containers with 1” marked off while you’re watering). Let the lawn dry out before watering again–infrequent watering with a good soak is best.
Water your lawn at dawn (or as close to dawn as you can)
Watering at daybreak is about 10 times more effective and it helps prevent the growth of fungus.
Our communities require adequate supplies of water for human consumption and fire protection. Landscape irrigation uses a huge amount of water, much of which is wasted due to evaporation, runoff, or overwatering. Here are some tips that will help conserve water supplies.
Water plants, not pavement
Nothing is more wasteful than a sprinkler that waters the street or the sidewalk. Adjust the water pressure on your sprinkler so the spray doesn’t overshoot the lawn. For difficult to reach areas, use a sprinkler head with adjustable nozzles. For automatic systems, make sure sprinkler heads are at least 8” from paved areas. Avoid sprinklers that produce a fine mist that easily evaporates and blows off target.
Water only between Memorial Day and Labor Day
In Massachusetts, established lawns usually only need watering during the months of June, July and August. Spring and autumn usually have increased rainfall and cooler temperatures.
Check the Weather Forecast
Don’t water if rain is predicted. And turn the sprinklers off if it starts to rain! Install a rain sensor on your automatic irrigation system to prevent watering when you’re asleep or not at home.
Abide by local watering restrictions, even if you have a private well
People are more important than lawns. If your town has implemented a watering ban, be sure to comply with the regulations. (Private wells and municipal wells often draw from the same groundwater sources.)
Tip: Typically water use by the public doubles in the summer from the amount used in the winter. This is why towns implement “watering bans” to restrict outdoor water use.
Check out our Best Mowing Practices.
Know How Much Water You Use
Use your water bill to track conservation goals. Click here for our water calculator.
* Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection