Answers to Your Lawn Watering and Irrigation Questions

As we have mentioned before, the second basic need for a lawn is water. Everyone loves to focus on fertilizer, but without proper watering, your lawn cannot thrive. Type of grass, amount of sunlight, temperatures, humidity can all play a role in how much water your yard needs. We have been asked many questions about this topic and want to share some of the answers with you here! For other topics you may have questions about, check out our FAQ page here! 

When is the best time to water my lawn?
Watering in the morning (before sunrise) is the best time for your lawn; it's cooler and winds tend to be calmer so water can soak into the soil and be absorbed by the roots before it can evaporate. Although it might seem smart to wait until the evening, watering in the evening is only recommended in very dry seasons. Under normal watering circumstances, watering at night can cause fungus due to sitting on the lawn too long before evaporating.

How much water does my lawn need?
Most lawns need 1.5-2.5" of water per week, either from rain or sprinklers to get to the roots. This changes through the seasons at certain times of the year, we experience high evaporation (spring and early summer in North Florida) and others we experience low evaporation (fall and winter) due to humidity and temperatures. This also changes within your lawn where certain areas are in full sun (higher need for water) vs. shaded areas (lower need for water). If you're wondering how long you should run your sprinkler zones, please see below. 

Should I water my grass after mowing?
While it's definitely fine to water after mowing the lawn, you should avoid watering before you mow. Wet grass will just clump up as you mow it, clogging your mower and being a pain in general. This is also why you should avoid mowing right after heavy rains.

How do I know if my lawn has enough water?
An easy way to determine if your lawn is wet enough is to push your finger in the soil. If soil does not stick to your finger at all, you should add water. If it is still moist a knuckle or two deep, then it doesn't need water yet. You can also grab a handful of soil and see if any sticks to your hands. If it sticks at all, it has enough moisture. Read our blog post: 4 Signs Your Lawn Has Too Much Irrigation for more information.

How long do I need to run my sprinklers?
Most lawns need 1.5-2.5" of water per week, either from rain or sprinklers to get to the roots. These changes are based on the type of sprinkler head, weather, soil type, amount of sun, and grass/plant type. With all of that said, here is a basic guideline for sprinkler systems to keep a healthy lawn:

Rotor Zones - 40-65 minutes (These are the heads that rotate and cover larger areas of the lawn with one strong stream of water.
Spray / Mist Zones - 20-35 minutes (These are the heads that steadily spray a flat stream of water in a concentrated area and do not rotate)

Drip Zones - 60-90 minutes (These zones just slowly drip water at the base of root systems and do not put out much water at all. Although concentrated, they need more time to fully wet the plant's rootballs)

How can I tell if my Gainesville lawn needs more water?
Grass Blade Folding - St. Augustine and Zoysia leaves have a crease down the center that allows them to open and close as needed. Healthy, well-watered grass will appear almost completely flat and open. When grass begins to dry out, the blade will close in half upon itself, to reduce its exposure to the sun and thus conserve water. This will also give the grass a “hazy” look, as the backs of the blades are not as deep green as the enclosed fronts.

Slow Spring-Back - Healthy grass should return itself to the upright position within a few seconds of being walked upon. If your footprints last more than 5 seconds in the turf, this is a guaranteed sign of drought stress.

How do I keep my yard healthy when I can only water twice a week?
At certain times of year (typically, spring in North Florida), we experience low humidity, warm weather, and minimal rain. These 3 factors cause terrible drought stress in sunny areas of the lawn when they can only get watered two days per week. During those dry spells, we recommend watering in the morning AND in the evening of your scheduled days. (2 days a week) and that's still within the watering guidelines. Much of the problem with this time of year is that the water is evaporated and causing drought stress long before the gap between the 2 days is complete.

For example, if your watering days are Wednesday and Saturday, setting the sprinklers to run at 5am and 9pm both of those days increases the water on the lawn, shortens the gap of stress between the waterings, and keeps you within the watering guidelines.

HOWEVER-this is a plan only to be used during hot and dry times of the year (spring).

Why does Alachua County recommend smart controllers in their new code?
Most people hear "smart" and think of voice activation - like Alexa. Irrigation Smart controllers have nothing to do with voice, but everything to do with saving water. They intelligently optimize your irrigation system by automatically adjusting to your local weather, effectively helping your landscape, and cutting water use. It reads the weather on your WiFi network and then responds to it. For example, it knows if rain is forecasted above 80% for today, it will not water. If it's above 85-degrees, it naturally adjusts with more water and does the same with deducting from cold temperatures.

It's not about voice activation it's about saving water and improving the way you water by the changing weather.

Be sure to visit other articles we have on this topic:
Gainesville Sprinkler Tips for Watering Your Lawn
4 Common Gainesville Sprinkler System Issues to Watch For
Quick Tip: How Much Should I water my Gainesville Lawn in Summer?
5 Reasons to Install a Smart Irrigation WiFi Controller on your Gainesville Sprinkler System

If we can be of help with your Gainesville Irrigation please don't hesitate to reach out to us at (352) 378-LAWN or fill out our form at the top of the page!