During summer, lawn watering and irrigation systems are the chief source of water usage. Watering times generally double during this time of the year creating strict water restrictions across Colorado, especially in Denver.
Which doesn’t come to much surprise, everybody wants a lush, green lawn. And the best way to keep your lawn green and healthy is by watering your lawn correctly.
Between May 1st and October 1st, Denver residents must follow these rules: no watering between 10am and 6pm, no watering during rain or strong winds and no watering sidewalks and streets, among other summer watering rules. You can read more about Denver watering restrictions here.
Be careful if you plan on breaking these rules because Denver Water employs a group called Water Savers to assist in enforcing the rules and educating the public about best water conservation practices.
Fortunately for you, the first rule isn’t that bad since most experts agree that the best time to water your lawn is early in the morning, between the hours of 4am to 10am.
How to get the most out of your lawn watering
Despite Denver’s rules and regulations, there are ways to maximize your lawn watering that’s both beneficial to your lawn and your wallet.
Watering your lawn can be broken down into two primary goals:
- First, you want to water adequately enough to moisten the root zone without wasting water. The root zone being the soil surrounding the roots (about 6 inches down).
- Second, allow the soil time to dry out between watering so that roots have the opportunity to absorb oxygen.
1. When to water
Photo: Flickr / Robert Couse-Baker
It’s easy to tell when grass needs water; either the grass will turn a grey-green or footprints will be left in the lawn for extended periods of time after walking on it.
Watering early in the morning is hands down the best time to water your lawn. Temperatures are the coolest and the water won’t be instantly evaporated during the heat of the day or rest on the blades too long at night, causing all sorts of fungal disease.
As previously mentioned, the sweet spot is between 4am and 10am.
2. How much to water
Photo: Flickr / Ze’ev Barkan
This is largely going to depend on the type of soil and grass your lawn consists of. Thought the general rule of thumb is to give your lawn at least 1 inch of water per week.
Different grass types have different watering wants and needs. I recommend checking out our grass guide for additional information on that subject.
When it comes to soil types, clay soils absorb water very slowly and watering too much at once will create runoff and wastewater. Sandy soils aren’t much better since they drain water quickly and will need more frequent watering.
Most lawns in Denver have clay soils.
3. How to avoid water runoff
There could be an entire book written about all of the ways to combat water waste and runoff. But we’ll try to condense the novel into a couple useful points.
- Know that your problem areas (i.e. slopes, areas with afternoon sun, areas near sidewalks, and under trees) will need MUCH more water and help than other areas.
- Allow your grass to grow longer and do not cut it as short during the hotter months. Avoid cutting off more than ⅓ of the grass blade at a time.
- Annually aerating your lawn then adding a thin layer of compost (called topdressing) will help improve soil quality on heavily compacted lawns. Which is typically the case with Denver’s clay soils.
- Take into account that shady spots, low spots and areas that get runoff from your neighbors won’t need as much water. Knowing those areas will allow you to adjust your sprinkler system accordingly.
- Calibrate your sprinkler system to run long enough to water each zone at least an inch. Also, allow sprinkler heads to overlap zones a bit to ensure adequate watering.
- You can use cans of tuna (about an inch deep) to measure how long it takes each zone to water a full inch. Track the times for each zone and set the timer to run that long for each zone.
- It’s also a good idea to space your watering to twice a week (about once every 3 to 4 days). Applying a half inch of water each time.
4. How to check your watering
Photo: Flickr / Clarice Barbato-Dunn
Using a shovel, dig out a small piece of sod in each zone in the lawn approximately six inches deep and check the soil moisture. If it’s moist six inches deep, congrats! Your lawn is getting enough water. If not, you may want to up the ante and check again next time.
Have questions about lawn care? Visit our Denver, CO lawn care page or share your thoughts in the comments section below.