Water Wise Turf Tips

Are you watering your yard properly? These factors determine how much water your lawn needs and the frequency of watering:

  • What type of grass you have?
  • Slope of your lawn?
  • How much sun or shade do you get?
  • What type of soil do you have?

Clay soils, or black gumbo, will hold water longer but is difficult to water without runoff. Several short water cycles can help penetration. Sandy soils may require short and more frequent watering. Likewise, southern or western exposures will need more frequent watering than north facing or shaded areas. Many people think they must water every day or every other day to have green and healthy turf. This is a common misconception that wastes water and weakens your lawn. Horticulturalists recommend watering your lawn deeply and infrequently to promote a strong root system.

Most grasses only need one inch of water every five to ten days in the heat of summer. How long must you water to apply one inch? It depends on the type of irrigation equipment, water pressure, wind and how much sun your yard gets. To measure how much water your system puts out, set out several 6-ounce tuna or cat food cans in the path of your sprinklers. These cans are one inch deep, so when they are full, you’ve applied one inch of water! Be sure to watch for run-off on some soils that cannot absorb the water quickly. You may need to water these soils for a few minutes to soften the soil, wait 10 or 15 minutes and then resume watering. While this may sound like a lot of effort, you’ll only have to honeymoon with your soil’s watering needs at first, after that it’s routine!

Don’t forget to include rainwater in your water total. Check your rain gauge. If your lawn has gotten an inch of rainwater within a week or so, you probably don’t need to water. If it’s gotten a half inch of water, you only need to supplement that with another half inch.

Please keep in mind that if your landscape is accustomed to being watered every other day, you may need to slowly cut back on your watering. The roots may be shallow, and they will need some time to grow, so it may take a few weeks before you can wean your lawn.

Use sprinklers that throw big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.

Watch your lawn for signs of stress. If the St. Augustine blades of grass roll up, if the Bermuda gets a bluish cast or if you leave footprints in the grass, your lawn needs water. The best time to water is in the early morning, when evaporation rates are at their lowest, there is little wind and water pressure is at its best. Grasses are also less likely to develop diseases or pest problems if watered in the morning.

If you use your automatic sprinkler system, be sure to not water sidewalks, driveways or the street. Maintain sprinkler heads and check your system for leaks.

As a service to customers, Dallas Water Utilities is conducting FREE automatic irrigation system evaluations. For more information or to schedule your automatic sprinkler system evaluation, call (214) 670-3155.

Additionally, if you have a swimming pool, check it for leaks and be sure to cover it when it is not in use. Pool covers will save up to 90 percent of the water lost to evaporation.

Use a broom to wash your driveway—not a hose.

When you wash your car, use a commercial car wash that recycles the water. This saves water and helps prevent water pollution.

Reference material taken in part from the following sources: Dallas Water Utilities

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