Spring Lawn Care Tips – Part V Irrigation

In previous installments of the newsletter (click here), we have stressed the importance of growing and maintaining your turf at a height above 3 inches. Maintaining the height of your grass at 3 inches or higher has many benefits. The grass height crowds out weeds, shades the soil surface, and also allows the grass plant to stretch its roots deep into the soil. The work you do now on your lawn will be evident in the summer months when we start to get into the hotter (and drier) season. 

Why grow our grass taller? Allowing your grass to grow longer sets up your lawn to be more drought tolerant in the summer season. Having an organic lawn means that you are not falsely encouraging the plant to grow by giving it fertilizers to aid growth and then having to water and cut this aggressive new growth. Allowing the grass to grow on its own terms and adapt to the natural environment will require less care and maintenance.

Thinking about setting up a sprinkler? One of the dreaded tasks of the summer is watering your lawn. It seems that no matter where you go, you will see a sprinkler watering a lawn. Some sprinklers target the exact area of the lawn that is needed, but all too often we see that sprinklers are watering driveways and asphalt and sometimes we even see automatic sprinklers watering during a rain storm. As a group that protects a river that is the drinking water source for 1 in 7 Connecticut residents, any wasteful use of water is a shock. We provide these lawn care resources because we care about that water being used sustainably ensuring there is still water left for the animals, fish, plants and trees along the river – and – to preserve the storage of drinking water for Connecticut residents.

How much should I irrigate? Generally, lawns in Connecticut do not need irrigation due to the nature of our regional climate. Hopefully, by maintaining your lawn organically and adapting it to the needs of our local climate, you will not need to water your lawn at all (unless you have young new seedlings). Here are FRWA’s watering tips:

  1. Water no more than 1 inch of water per week. Keep track of local rainfall and if you must water, do in the early morning hours. Watering during midday means that more water will evaporate and watering at night creates an environment that invites fungal diseases to take hold.
  2. Water new growth/seedlings until established, and then slowly back off irrigation allowing the new growth to adapt.
  3. Ensure that the water you are using absorbs into the ground. Bonus points if you install rain barrels or rain gardens to capture water from your roof.
  4. Allow your grass to go dormant in the summer. Grass naturally goes dormant when there is a lack of water. Your grass will turn green again once there is sufficient rainfall.
  5. Pat yourself on the back! You are protecting drinking water resources that we might need during a drought and protecting a natural (and National) treasure.