Time of day important when watering your lawn

By Terasa M. Lott, Water Resources Agent, Clemson Extension

Mother Nature blessed us with some much-needed precipitation this week. The warm temperatures and lack of rain prior to this meant many were forced to irrigate their lawns. I often see irrigation running in the morning while walking my canine companions but over the past few weeks, I’ve observed quite a few sprinklers dancing across yards on my way home from work -about 5:30 p.m.

Life can be so busy that we are sometimes forced to do things when we can fit them into our busy schedules. Believe me, I understand. Still, there is a best time to do certain things and when it comes to watering lawns, that time is early in the morning.

One reason to irrigation in the early morning hours is water conservation. During the hottest portion of the day (10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.), it is estimated that 20% to 30% of water can be lost to evaporation. That means that if you applied 1 inch of water, the turf would only be receiving 0.7 – 0.8 inches.

Another reason for watering early in the morning is related to disease pressure. Turf diseases thrive in warm, moist conditions. Watering in the evening provides those favorable conditions by extending the period of time that turf blades remain wet.

While I’m talking about irrigation, I can’t help but harp on the fact that irrigation systems must be adjusted. You can’t simply “set it and forget it”. On my way to work on Wednesday morning, I sighed as drove by the neighborhood sprinklers in action, contributing to the already large puddle that formed during the overnight rain. Irrigation is only needed when rainfall is not sufficient. If it’s raining, please turn your irrigation off.

Here’s one last tip about watering. The general rule of thumb is one inch of water per week. The frequency of application depends on the type of soil but for simplicity sake, we’ll say this needs to be divided over two applications of 0.5 inches each. The moral of the story is to water less frequently but deeply. By irrigating wisely, we can conserve water and build healthy turf.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.

Author: Duane Childers

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