“Mirror mirror, on the wall,” said the gardener. “What is the most hidden lawn issue of them all?”
“Hmmm,” The mirror replied.
“Is it weeds and moss?” Asked the gardener.
“Okay, is it pests?”
“Nah.” The mirror chuckled.
“Sorry, but no.” The mirror said shaking its imaginary head. “ But do try again.”
“No, it’s okay, I give up, just tell me what it is.”
“Sure. It’s not watering your lawn enough.” The mirror smiled. “That’s the issue most British gardeners bring on themselves.”
And the mirror’s right. Of all the thousands of lawn problems, issues, attackers and siege-starters looking to wreck that gorgeous view from your kitchen window, under-watering is one of the worst which, in a roundabout way, means you are the culprit. Your not holding the hose for long enough, or not knowing how to use your sprinkler system properly, is the culprit.
Don’t worry, though, you’re not alone. So many gardeners adopt a sort of ‘the rain’s got us covered’ approach when it comes to watering their gardens. And we get it. We have four distinct seasons here, and even our summers tend to rain enough for us to indulge in the truly English conversation topic of all things bad-weather.
Nonetheless, if weather-loving scientists are anything to go by, then summers are getting hotter and drier year on year, which means your lawn could start to suffer from the dreaded drought-stress, that’s if you’re not on the ball (or, more accurately, the hose). Anyway, the point is this: not watering your lawn enough can be bad. It can be super-duper bad. And that’s because it may become vulnerable to other problems, like insect invasions and weeds and deadly disease and all sorts of stuff.
So, without further ado, here is everything you need to know about how to water your lawn properly:
So, bad news first: a lawn that doesn’t get enough water will start to go brown, like an old forgotten avocado. It won’t die (that would take a desert-type drought), but it will go into a sort of coma, which isn’t ideal. Luckily, it can make a full recovery if you begin maintaining it properly. That means mowing it less frequently, setting your mower so that it cuts higher, not walking on your lawn so much and watering it in the same way rain would. Basically, in times of drought, it’s about practising good lawn care.
The good news is, we live in England, where drought is as rare as a three-legged, polka-dot unicorn. But, like we said, that doesn’t mean a hot, rain-free summer won’t happen, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
In order to start watering your lawn “properly”, the best thing you can do is learn how to use your sprinkler system properly, which shouldn’t be any more complicated than learning how to use a toaster, the difference being this one will save you money and help your lawn look super-healthy.
So, once you’ve gotten to grips with it, the next thing you need to do is get into the habit of saying, “oh, look, there’s no rain forecast for ages; I better consider watering my garden.” With this in mind, you’ll want to know what sort of soil type you are working with. Why? Because this will dictate how fast your lawn starts to suffer and wilt and lose its greeness. To sum it up, sandy and chalky soils are the ones you want to be careful with as they’ll dry out way quicker than clay-based soils, which are like sponges. Anyway, if you do a soil test and find out yours is pretty sandy, we would recommend you get an automatic sprinkler system to make your life easier.
Unfortunately, there is no exact science here, but that’s mainly because your grass will need different amounts of water at different times of the year. For example, in spring and autumn, the watering-a-lawn rule of thumb has always been about an inch of water a week, which is pretty much covered by rainfall. However, come the summer (or at least those three and a half days in July when we can take our jumpers off), you’ll want to increase this by about 50%, which means supplementing the lack of rain with your garden hose.
Of course, you’re probably thinking to yourself: how long do you need to have your sprinkler on before it’s reached an inch? It’s a good question, and one we have an equally good solution to. Simply pop a watering can or bucket in the middle of your lawn and see how long it takes to fill up. Usually, it will take about a half hour to reach an inch. This means, when the weather starts getting a bit nicer, all you have to do is turn your sprinkler on for 20 minutes three times a week.
On that note, it’s probably worth checking how much water fell in a given week using the same bucket-measuring trick. That way you will know what needs to be done. If a lot more than an inch fell, then it could be worth aerating your lawn to help the excess water drain. If, however, not much fell at all, then turn that sprinkler on until you’ve reached an inch. Easy.
If you’re going to do the watering thing with a hosepipe (read: manually), then this is probably going to make you grimace and shrivel because, well, the ideal time to water your lawn is just before dawn. We know, right. This isn’t just us being sadistic, however, because there are, in fact, four reasons for this mayhem:
Given we live in the wettest country on earth (probably), the chances of you over-watering your lawn with a hose isn’t likely. However, we still think it’s pretty important to know what constitutes too much because a lawn that’s been over-watered will start to become plagued by a whole host of bad bits. We’re talking about owning the kind of unhealthy lawn that’s vulnerable to weeds, insect-uprisings and general disease. What’s more, no amount of chemicals or superheroes will be able to help until the penny drops and you realise too much water is to blame.
Another way to tell if your lawn is being over-watered is to check the root system. In short, shallow roots tend to develop when there’s no need to travel too far to find water. This is a problem. Actually, this is a big-big problem. This means the roots are near the surface and thus open to both heat damage and hungry insects.
Our advice: always leave your lawn feeling a little, you know, thirsty. By doing this, the roots will need to coil further into the soil in order to find that all important moisture. This means the secret to a tough, resilient, hardcore and healthy lawn is a deep root system which, in watering-speak, means listening to advice about mimicking rainfall.