The most frequently asked question about watering your lawn is, "How often?" The answer would be simple if there were a set of rules for every situation, but there are too many factors to consider.
Your lawns watering requirements depend on a few things: soil type, climate, temperatures, wind velocity, humidity, rain frequency, grass type and your maintenance practices.
The mere mention of lawn irrigation often conjures images of automatic sprinkler's dutifully performing their required task in the middle of a torrential downpour, leaving lawns flooded, neighbors miffed and conservationists steamed. In reality, proper lawn irrigation is a huge part of having a healthy lawn, however, your irrigation attempts should be ruled by common sense, not technology. As with buying cars, taking on home loans or making investments, there is a little research involved in coming to the right decision. You need to know your soil, know your grass seed and have a good idea of the upcoming forecast before you can make the right decisions when it comes to irrigation. You also need to pay close attention to water restrictions in your area, otherwise, your attempts at irrigation could land you a hefty fine.
Before you buy and position your first sprinkler.
First, before you buy and position your first sprinkler, you need to have your soil analyzed to see what kind of drainage you have. If you have a clay soil that is clumpy, you may end up with serious drainage problems since water can not flow through it as easily as it can with other types of soil. If you have a sandy soil, irrigation and drainage will not be a problem, but keeping nutrients from washing out of your soil altogether might be. If you have a silt soil or a loamy type of soil, you will be in the best overall shape. You may find out that you do not need much in the way of irrigation at all!
There are other considerations that need to be made before you choose an irrigation system for your lawn. The amount of direct sunlight your lawn receives will also determine how dried out it gets and how much water it needs. You also need to take the slope of your lawn into account and the amount of rainfall you receive. If you live in a place like Florida that receives rain almost every day of the summer, you may be able to go weeks without watering your lawn at all. However, even in places like Florida, droughts and long spells without rain can happen, so you should have an irrigation system in place even if you do not have to use it for long periods of time.
When it comes to picking the right irrigation system for your lawn, most people choose between a manual system that requires the use of a hose and excellent aim or an automatic system made up of sprinkler's set on a timer. Both systems have their plusses and minuses.
First, a manual irrigation system can save you a lot of money since many high end automatic sprinkler systems can be costly. On the flip side, however, attempting to irrigate your lawn manually is time consuming and not very effective. You have to soak an area of your lawn pretty well to ensure that water is getting down into the roots and not just on the individual blades of grass, which often evaporate before they can provide any real assistance. You may end up with a lawn that has areas that are watered adequately and areas that are starved for water.
The biggest knock against an automatic sprinkler system is that they are expensive and wasteful. With water bills rising around the country, the idea of watering a lawn that does not need it is difficult to take. Thankfully, new technology can help reduce the amount of water you waste using automatic irrigation systems. Some new systems even have automatic sensors that can tell when it is raining so that the next scheduled spray is skipped. You can even buy lawn irrigation systems that spray at different lengths, removing the telltale circles left in lawns by most spray-style sprinkler's.
The Irrigation answer.
Perhaps the answer for those looking to keep a green lawn and reduce water waste is a drip irrigation system. A drip irrigation system uses tubes laid around your property that slowly drip water throughout your lawn instead of spraying water over long distances. These systems are often silent and the tubes are often buried just under the surface so that they are safe from your mower and from playing kids. Early studies have shown that this new type of irrigation system can significantly reduce the amount of water waste an average lawn has during an entire growing season.