Now that we are a few weeks into the mowing season and the weather is warming up, many people are wondering how much they should water their lawn using a programmable irrigation system. I wish that there was a single answer like, "water these three times and I guarantee you will have a green lawn," but, unfortunately, it is not that easy. However, there are some watering times that are better than others, and some basic tips to see how much water your lawn needs, so let me help you with your lawn watering questions in the Reno area. When Should I Water?
After reading this you will realize this is common sense for the Reno area, but we live in a desert. During the summer, from early afternoon through late afternoon it normally gets hot and windy. If you water in the late afternoon you will most likely experience a higher evaporation rate, as well as water blowing into the streets instead of your lawn! Considering this, I recommend loading up and watering your lawn between the hours of 4am and 10am.
How much should I water?
This is where things get a little tricky, but the rule of thumb is to make sure your lawn is getting 1" of water a week. Some gauge this by placing a tuna can in the middle of the yard and measuring the water accumulated throughout the week. If you perform this test, realize that some areas of your lawn are probably exposed to the sun for longer periods of time throughout the day, so set up the can in a shaded spot as well as a sunny spot for a more accurate measurement.
Most people assume that if their lawn is developing some dead spots it is due to some type of lawn disease, but this might not always be the case. Normally, brown spots are due to poor sprinkler coverage. If you have some dead spots you should check the sprinkler coverage before jumping to any other conclusions. All you have to do is turn on your water and see if the brown spots are being reached by the sprinklers. You will be able to quickly tell if the sprinkler heads have been knocked out of place or broken.
Are There Days I Can't Water?
The answer to this question is "yes." Here is Reno, we have assigned watering days set by Truckee Meadows Water Authority, which states:
- Even Address: Watering Days = Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
- Odd Address: Watering Days= Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
The good news about the Kentucky blue grass that is mainly grown in Reno is that it is able sustain a rather long drought period, like the ones we see during the winter when the lawn goes dormant. So, if you have brown spots, forgot to activate the irrigation system, or went on vacation and your water was shut off, then there is a good chance your turf will be able to withstand this period of drought. Also, make sure not to starve your lawn by under watering it, and make sure to water on your assigned TMWA days or you might end up with a fine for failing to follow the rules.