Keeping your lawn hydrated goes a long way in ensuring that your grass stays lush and green. You’ll want to water your grass at the right time to maximize effectiveness and water efficiency.
You should not water your grass in direct sun because the water evaporates too quickly. This quick evaporation means that the grass isn’t watered deeply despite the amount of water used. As a result, your grass will be more likely to brown on hot days.
Watering your grass at the right time is the best way to conserve water, especially during the summer. In this article, I’ll explore the myths about watering grass in direct sunlight, as well as discuss the best time to water your grass and how to take care of your grass in the heat.
Why You Shouldn’t Water Grass in the Direct Sun
Traditional agricultural wisdom advises against watering grass in the glare of direct sunlight. When grass is watered in the bright heat of the midday sun, it typically wilts or browns.
Previously, it was understood that the reason behind the burning of lawns when they are habitually watered at midday was that the water droplets would focus the sun’s rays like a magnifying glass, burning the grass. This has been thoroughly disproven as the reason behind the sunburn.
Sunburnt lawns can be the result of a variety of reasons, ranging from windburn to extreme heat. The “burn” on the leaf may also be a case of fertilizer burn caused by too much or improperly applied fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate.
However, the most common reason grass burns easily when watered in direct sun is that the water evaporates too quickly. Water takes some time to be absorbed into the soil, and in the heat of the midday sun, much of it evaporates before it is absorbed.
If most of the water evaporates into the air instead of being absorbed into the ground, the grass will simply get dehydrated. Dehydrated grass browns and is more prone to sunburn and other heat-related stress, which presents itself as “burnt” spots on the blades of grass.
What Is the Best Time To Water Your Grass?
Grass can be watered at any time of day if you do it correctly. However, if your area is experiencing drought or you want to be more efficient about water usage, you should restrict your watering to when it’s most effective.
The best time to water your grass is early morning when it’s cool, and the sun isn’t too far up in the sky, typically before 10:00 AM.
Ideally, the grass should still be wet with dew, meaning you should water it before 8:00 AM. Watering at this time ensures that you won’t shock the grass when you water it thoroughly, which goes a long way in helping your grass absorb all the water.
In contrast, if you water the grass at midday when it’s hot, you’ll shock the blades, which can cause more harm than good. They need to adjust to the cold water.
Early mornings are also a good time to water your grass because the water will have time to be absorbed into the ground before it evaporates due to the sun’s heat. You can water your grass thoroughly and deeply, and know that most of the water you’ve sprinkled or poured will be used by your grass.
Additionally, the weather should be calm as you water your grass.
Watering in windy conditions is not ideal, as the wind can carry away a lot of moisture. Watering your grass when the weather is calm and cool ensures you can optimize your water usage while keeping your grass green, lush, and healthy.
The Right Way To Water Your Grass
Watering your grass the right way can keep your grass healthy through the hottest summers and prevent issues like browning, wilting, and other heat-related issues. It will also lower your water bill.
Here are some ways to water your grass effectively:
- Water deeply. Water your grass till about 8” (20 cm) of soil is fully soaked, as this will ensure the roots grow deeper into the soil, leading to more resilient grass. The deeper roots will ensure that the grass has access to more water and nutrients, even in hot weather.
- Give the water time to soak. Don’t pour all the water at once because if you add too much water at a time, it won’t soak into the ground. Instead, it will run off, carrying soil and nutrients with it. Add a little water at a time, and wait to let the water fully soak into the ground before you add any more. Remember that clay soils will take longer to soak than sandy soils.
- Wait for the ground to dry between waterings. Watering infrequently encourages your grass to grow deeper roots. It also mimics the natural processes of heavy rains followed by a dry period, which allows the grass to grow steadily and stay healthy.
- Don’t overwater your grass. Overwatering can cause several issues, such as soil runoff and compaction, excessive growth, and vulnerability to diseases. You can learn more in this article about overwatered lawns: Is It Possible to Water New Turf Too Much. Water only as often as needed, and let your grass wilt before you water your lawn again.
How Do You Water Grass in Extreme Heat?
Maintaining your grass in the heat doesn’t require any special care. In fact, allowing your grass to grow a bit longer and drier in extreme temperatures might support its overall health in the long run.
Water grass infrequently in extreme heat, allowing it to wilt and even dry a little between waterings. When you water your grass, water early and deeply, letting the water soak fully into the ground. You don’t need to water daily, as it only needs about 1” (2.5 cm) of water in any given week.
Maintaining your lawn in extreme heat can run up your water bills. Additionally, water-stressed regions may limit water use outdoors, for example, by only allowing residents to water lawns on specific days.
In such cases, it is important to make the most of the available water and ensure it is applied most effectively. You could get up as early as 4:00 AM to water your grass, but this might not be entirely necessary if you’re not a morning person.
Make the most of the cooler temperatures and allow your grass time to absorb the water before the sun gets higher in the sky.
Watering your grass deeply and waiting till the ground and the grass dries out between waterings allows your grass to grow deeper roots. In total, your grass should receive no more than 1” (2.5 cm) of water a week.
When Should You Not Water Your Lawn?
Watering your grass at the right time can help you save on water bills and conserve water. But are there times you shouldn’t water your lawn?
You should not water your lawn at midday, as most of the water evaporates, nor should you water your lawn in the evenings, as it slows down absorption and encourages water stagnation, which may lead to disease. In addition, avoid watering your lawn every day.
Daily watering leads to shallow root growth if you’re watering lightly and water stagnation if you’re watering deeply. Both of these situations are not ideal, as they will affect the overall health and resilience of your grass.
Watering your grass in the direct sun leads to more water consumption overall. However, watering at night is worse. The lower temperatures and lack of sunlight mean that the water takes longer to be absorbed into the soil, which leads to longer-lasting moisture that encourages pests and diseases.
You shouldn’t water your grass in the direct sun if you can help it, as most of it will evaporate, and your grass will not get the moisture it needs to survive the heat. Instead, water your grass thoroughly and deeply in the early mornings, allowing the water to soak to about 8” (20 cm) into the soil.