Holmes Lawn & Pest Blog

Lawn Watering Guide For Utah

.Sprinkler 2

Water is essential for a healthy lawn. Not only does it help grass grow,  it also helps to prevent diseases and pests. Lawns that routinely do not get enough water will start to struggle as factors like inclement weather and heavy foot traffic take their toll.

In this guide, we will discuss how much water your lawn needs and how to properly water your turf. Be sure to check out our fertilization services for even healthier lawns in Utah!

Why Your Lawn Needs To Be Watered

morning grass PV4NP59

Grass is made up of mostly water. In order for it to grow and stay healthy, it needs a continual supply of water.  When grass doesn’t get enough water, it will start to turn brown and become dormant. This means that the grass blades will stop growing and lay flat. Some types of grass will go into survival mode and produce deeper roots in an effort to find water, but this isn’t always successful. If grass goes dormant and is deprived of water for too long, the grass in that area may die and have to be reseeded. 

Even if your grass does not die from dehydration, there are a host of other issues that can plague your lawn if you do not water enough. A lack of water can make your lawn more susceptible to fungal diseases like brown patch. Watering also helps to keep thatch levels down. Thatch is a layer of dead and living grass that can build up on your lawn over time. If it gets too thick, it can create an ideal environment for pests and diseases. It can also make it difficult for water and nutrients to reach the roots of your grass.

Problems With Overwatering

identifying Brown Patch Disease

Not watering enough is a huge problem when it comes to Utah lawn care, but overwatering is just as harmful! One of the biggest problems with overwatering is that it creates an ideal environment for diseases and pests. When grass is constantly wet, it becomes more susceptible to fungal diseases. Overwatering can also lead to thatch buildup, which we discussed earlier. Thatch provides a perfect home for insects and other pests. In fact, many times when people are dealing with a pest issue, they are actually just watering too much.

Another problem with overwatering is that it can leach nutrients from the soil. Nutrients are essential for grass growth, so if they are being leached out, it can stunt the growth of your lawn. Overwatering can also lead to runoff, which carries away topsoil and other amendments you’ve added to your lawn. This can leave your lawn vulnerable to erosion.

How To Water Established Lawns

sprinkler maintenance service

Now that we’ve talked about why watering is important, let’s discuss how much water your lawn needs. The amount of water your lawn needs depends on a few different factors, including the type of grass you have, the time of year, and the temperature zone you live in.

In Utah, most people choose to seed their lawn with a cool-season turf, such as Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue. However, some warmer parts of the state can utilize a warm-season grass, such as Bermuda or zoysia. Generally speaking, lawns need about 1-1.5 inches of water per week. To accomplish this, you must monitor how much and when you are watering.

The tips and guidelines laid out below are meant to serve as a starting point for watering sessions. Remember, warm-season grass does not perform well in colder temperatures, so you may want to start watering warm-season lawns a little later in the year, when temperatures warm up.

November - April (70 Degrees Or Below)

  • We do not typically recommend using any irrigation at this time. The water that mother nature provides in our area will hold in the soil and give the roots of your turf the water it needs. Overwatering will only waste your water and money and encourage poor root development, which will work against you when temperatures get hot.

April - May (Between 70 & 80 Degrees)

  • You shouldn’t be running irrigation during this time unless your lawn is showing signs of stress. A good, hard rainfall can substitute for one watering. Your lawn should be receiving 1 inch of water per week. The soil moisture will determine your watering schedule.
  • Rotating Irrigation Heads: 25 minutes per zone.
  • Fixed Irrigation Heads: 15 minutes per zone.
  • Hand Watering/Hose: 25-30 minutes per section.

May - September (85 Degrees Or Above)

  • Your lawn should be receiving 1 inch of water per week, between rainfall and irrigation. Water your lawn about 2 times per week and never more than 3 times per week.
  • Rotating Irrigations Heads: 25 minutes per zone.
  • Fixed Irrigations Heads: 15 minutes per zone.
  • Hand Watering/Hose: 25-30 minutes per section.

How To Water After Seeding

Overseeding

The above information is useful if you are tending to an already existing lawn that is mostly healthy. Unfortunately, lawns that are not watered properly, or lawns that are poorly tended to in general, will start to show signs of damage. As spots of discolored or thinning turf start to appear across your lawn, you may need to seed over those struggling areas before they spread.

Fall is the best time of year to lay down grass seed, but the watering requirements will have to be altered while the new seed tries to germinate in the soil. You should plan to allow for up to 3 weeks of altered watering sessions, as this is the amount of time it should take the seeds to germinate. During this time, make sure the soil stays moist, but not soaked, by following these directions.

September - October (First 2 Weeks)

  • Irrigation Heads: 12 minutes per zone.
  • Fixed Irrigation Heads: 5 minutes per zone.
  • Hand Watering/Hose: 15-20 minutes per section.

September - October (3rd Week)

  • Water your lawn when your soil has dried out. Don’t water if it is still damp.
  • Rotating Irrigation Heads: 20 minutes per zone.
  • Fixed Irrigation Heads: 10 minutes per zone.
  • Hand Watering/Hose: 25-30 minutes per section.

November (Until Growth Stops)

  • 1 inch of water per week between rainfall and irrigation. Adjust your irrigation schedule as needed.
  • Rotating Irrigation Heads: 25 minutes per zone.
  • Fixed Irrigation Heads: 15 minutes per zone.
  • Hand Watering/Hose: 25-30 minutes per section.

How To Saturate Different Soil Types

Dry Compressed Soil

Lastly, let’s take a quick look at the most common types of soil for residential lawns. Different soil types have different attributes that make watering needs vary. In general, you never want the soil in your lawn to be completely soaked, as this will lead to drowning your lawn. You should try to aim for soil that consistently remains slightly damp to the touch, especially when laying new seed. 

  • Clay is a type of soil that absorbs water slowly, which occasionally leads to runoff and puddles because this spoil dries out very slowly. An inch of water will only penetrate 4 to 5 inches deep. 
 
  • Loam is the ideal soil type in Utah, especially when combined with a sandy soil. Loam ensures the most even distribution, with an inch of water being able to reach the perfect depth of 6 to 8 inches. This is the ideal depth for root development. 
 
  • Sandy soil, on its own, requires a lesser amount of water but a high watering frequency. Water is absorbed very quickly through sandy soil, with an inch of water being able to penetrate up to a foot deep.
 
Following the information on this guide will help you get one step closer to having a healthy, lush lawn in Utah. Most importantly, remember to water in the morning, water deeply and infrequently, and keep soil moist but not soaked. Contact Holmes Lawn & Pest for more information on proper watering for Utah lawns!
 
 
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