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Summer Lawns: Watering Tips and Schedule

Conserve Water While Maintaining Your Yard's Grass


Grass Watering in Phoenix

Measuring Sprinkler Water

© 2007 Judy Hedding

People have grass lawns in Phoenix. Right or wrong, it is reality. In the desert, where the Greater Phoenix area is located, we actually have two seasons for grass, winter and summer. In the summer, because of our extreme temperatures, it is especially important to know how to properly water your lawn in order to accomplish two objectives: (1) maintaining a nice, healthy lawn, while (2) conserving water.

It may be tempting to water your lawn every day in the hottest part of the summer, but that really isn't necessary. Water - Use It Wisely offers great information to assist us with knowing how much to water the grass and how often.

Efficient Lawn Watering in Arizona's Desert

Know how much water your grass needs.
  • Your grass will be healthiest if the roots of the grass receive water every time you water.
  • Watering to a depth of 10 inches is best. To accomplish that, apply about 3/4 inch of water during each watering session.
  • You can use a soil probe, or a long screwdriver to test the soil. About one hour after you have watered, push in the soil probe as far as it will go in easily. Did it go in 10 inches? If not, you'll need to water longer until it does.
Know how much water your sprinkler system applies.
  • Most pop-up sprinklers apply about 4/10th inches of water for every 15 minutes. Impact sprinklers only apply about half that amount.
  • You (and the kids) can perform the can test to see how much water your system is applying. Take 6 or more flat bottomed cans, like tuna or cat food cans. Place them around your lawn. Turn on the sprinklers for 15 minutes. Measure the depth of the water in each can. Use decimals for easier addition (1/4 inch = .25, for example). Add them all together and then divide by the number of cans. That will give you the average watering depth.
  • If you see variations in the depth that are larger than a 1/4 inch, you probably need to adjust some of the sprinklers or repair clogged sprinkler heads.
  • Divide .75 inches (that's the 3/4 inches necessary for a health lawn) by the number of inches you measured as your average. Then, multiply your result times 15 minutes to find out how long you should be watering your grass. Here's a handy worksheet and instruction guide from University of Arizona.
Match the system output to your lawn's needs.
  • Water an hour or two before sunrise, so the water won't evaporate as quickly.
  • Once you know your run time, make adjustments based on short term weather changes
  • if the ground is mushy, or mushrooms or fungus grows, the lawn is getting too much water.
  • regularly check your sprinkler heads to make sure that water is coming out, and is directed to the right area.
  • don't water when it's windy
  • mow regularly for a healthy lawn.

Page 1: How Much Water Does My Lawn Need?
Page 2: How Long Should I Water My Grass?

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