University of Maryland Extension

Watering - Lawns

Return to lawn care

Lawn irrigation is not encouraged, but there are certain times when it is necessary.

  • Water on an as needed basis, not on a regular schedule (this includes when using an irrigation system). 
  • Newly seeded, sodded, or lawns less than two years old, should be irrigated. Water if the grass blades begin to wilt, develop a blue-gray color, or show footprints after being walked upon (see photo above). 
  • Established tall-fescue lawns can go dormant during the summer. Dormancy is a survival mechanism. Lawns will typically recover quickly when rainfall returns, except if we experience a prolonged drought. Some reseeding may be necessary in the late summer/fall. 
  • Dormant lawns continue to protect water sources by holding soil in place and filtering potential pollutants. Do not fertilize dormant lawns and adjust mowing height accordingly.
  • Water in the early morning, before 10 a.m. to minimize leaf wetness. Wet grass promotes disease problems.
  • Water slowly to prevent runoff. Use a sprinkler to apply 1 inch of water to the lawn. Place a shallow can in the area being watered to monitor the amount being applied. After an inch of water collects in the can, check the soil moisture. Insert a screwdriver or other type of probe in the area. The soil should be moist 4 to 6 inches down.
  • Frequent, shallow watering, as sometimes applied with an irrigation system, tends to keep the upper layers of soil near a point of saturation most of the time. This encourages shallow rooting, disease and insect problems. Automatic irrigation systems should be adjusted to the needs of grass plants.

Publication:   TT 62 Irrigation and Water Conservation on Home Lawns

 

Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2017. Web Accessibility