We have received several questions on how much to water a lawn. Homeowners usually want to know how much and how long to leave the sprinklers on. There are too many variables to give a solid answer. You will need to do some experimentation to determine what is needed for your lawn.
The key is to make sure water reaches about 8 inches deep. This can be checked with a wooden dowel or a metal rod (rebar or electric fence post). Pushing it into the soil will tell you how deeply water has reached as it will stop when it hits dry soil. Start by watering for 15 minutes and check the depth of watering. If the soil is only moist 4 inches deep, then you will need to water another 15 minutes. Check again after the second watering to be sure moisture reaches your desired depth. Watch for runoff. If you see any before the soil is wet to the desired depth, you may have to water each area twice with some time in between to allow the water to soak in.
If there is still runoff before water reaches the desired depth, more waterings per week may be needed to make up for the shallow depth the water is reaching. On such lawns, core aeration during September would be highly recommended to help increase the rate at which the soil absorbs water.
That brings up how often should we water. During most of the growing season, once per week will be adequate. However, during extreme heat or on heavy soils where runoff occurs quickly, twice a week may be needed.
Ward Upham: K-State Research and Extension
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