Is Your Lawn Under-watered? And Why Overwatering May Be Worse
Updated: May 13
We all love a green lush lawn. When we see our lawn struggling, it is a bit disappointing. In these cases, the first thing we often assume is that it must need more water. While sometimes this could be true, that brown patch you're looking at could actually mean you are overwatering the area. It is a good idea to know whether you are over or under-watering, here's a few ways to tell the difference.
Signs of a Dry Lawn
Wilting is a big sign your lawn is dry. When a lawn wilts, it changes its color from its typical green to a slightly blue-grey tint. Closer inspections of the lawn will show that it is limp and will not bounce back up if stepped on. Testing for a lack of water can be done by probing the soil with a knife or screwdriver in both the wilted in and green areas. Higher difficulty of penetration in the wilted areas is a confirmation of lack of water.
A healthy lawn will have blades standing up and a full green color. Usually certain sections of the lawn will repeatedly show wilting before others. If you see this, that means the areas are likely receiving the least water due to poor irrigation, being at the top of a slope or may be receiving direct sunlight.
To fix this, check for uniform sprinkler coverage by doing a uniformity test. To measure your uniformity, you will use a bunch of containers on your lawn to check how much water is falling onto the different sections. The best container to use will have vertical sides, like a straight edged plastic cup.
Evenly place measuring containers on your lawn, using a minimum spacing of 10 feet.
Turn on your sprinkler system and leave it on for about 15 minutes.
Once you turn off the sprinkler system, do not move the measuring containers.
Measure and record the inches of water in each container.
Note down the containers with the lowest and greatest amounts of water.
If the amount of water varies, especially by a lot, then sprinkler adjustment or an additional sprinkler may be necessary. As mentioned before, sloped areas will require shorter, more frequent irrigation cycles. Be sure full sun areas should not be on the same zone as larger shady areas.
Signs of Overwatered Lawns (This Could Be Worse)
There are specific signs that will tell you your lawn is being overwatered. Overwatering your lawn is actually worse than under-watering because it will cause more damage. An under-watered lawn will struggle and die, while an overwatered lawn will not only kill off your lawn, but can also ruin the soils underneath. The soil that your lawn grows from needs to have a good balance of good things (microbes) to fight off the "bad things." Overwatering kills off the microbes in the soil and allows anything bad to take over and kill your lawn.
Signs of this are:
Ring Spot Fungus
Ring spot fungus is caused by sever overwatering. The main reason the fungus grows is because overwatering promotes fungus growth and kills the beneficial microbes in the soil, allowing the fungus to take over.
Brown patches are another grass disease often caused by overwatering. You will usually see green healthy areas right next to the brown patches.
Compacted soils can also be the result of overwatering. Compacted soils can have thin or dead grass blades and do not provide enough oxygen to the lawn and beneficial microbes in the soils, resulting in poor lawn health.