How much water does a lawn need? In general, warm-season grasses need about one to 1.5 inches of water per week to maintain green color and active growth. Allow lawns to naturally slow down in growth during extreme conditions. You may let the lawn go almost completely dormant in hot weather. Many factors, such as the soil and weather, all have a role in the lawn's water needs. Here are a few guidelines to follow:
Decide before hand
Decide before summer heat and drought conditions arrive, to either water lawns consistently as needed throughout the season, or let lawns go dormant as conditions turn warm and dry. Do not rotate back and forth. In other words, don't let the grass turn totally brown, apply enough water to green it up, then let the grass go dormant again. Breaking the lawns dormancy actually drains large amounts of food reserves from the plant.
When is it time to start watering
The first few warm days of summer does not automatically mean to water lawns. In fact, allowing lawns to start to go under mild drought stress actually increases rooting. Watch for "footprinting", or footprints remaining on the lawn after walking across it (instead of leaf blades bouncing back up). Grasses also tend to change color as they go under drought stress. Sampling the root zone soil could be another option.
Water as infrequently as possible
Thoroughly water when you do water so moisture soaks down to the roots. Exceptions to this general rule would be for newly seeded lawns where the surface needs to stay moist, newly sodded lawns that have not yet rooted into the soil, or when summer patch disease is a problem. Otherwise, avoid frequent waterings that promote shallower root systems and weeds (e.g., crabgrass).
Water early if possible
Given a choice, water early in the day when lawns are normally wet from dew. Avoid midday due to evaporation, and at night due to potential increased chances of some diseases.
Spread the water uniformly across the lawn
Sprinklers vary in distribution patterns, and require spray overlap for uniform coverage. Placing coffee cans or similar straight-sided containers on the lawn can help measure water application rates. Avoid flooding areas, or missing other spots. On heavy clay soils and slopes, watch for excessive runoff; it may be necessary to apply the water in several applications to allow for adequate penetration.
Mow grass to the proper height with a mower with a sharp blade. Never cut off more than one third of the blade when mowing. Grass needs the surface area of the blade to sustain itself. Removing too much of the blade creates an environment ripe for disease.
Additional mowing tips include:
Don't cut your grass too short, particular for cool season grasses. Cool season grasses should be mowed at 3 1/2" — 4" or the mower's highest setting. Higher heights usually provide for a deeper root system, looks better, and is less likely to have weeds invading, particularly crabgrass.
Avoid mowing when the grass is wet or when it's dark
When mowing, remove only a third with each cutting (except for the first mowing of the season when it's OK to remove more). You can safely leave clippings that will quickly decompose and add nutrients back into the soil. Contrary to popular opinion, grass clippings do not add to thatch buildup. Grass blades are made up of about 75% water.
Mow your lawn in a different direction with each mowing, especially with lawns of shorter grass types. Altering the direction ensures a more even cut since grass blades will grow more erect and less likely to develop into a set pattern.
Keep your mower's blade sharp, which means having it sharpened several times during the mowing season. Keep several blades around so you'll always have a sharp one on hand.
Don't forget to change your mower's oil at least once during the mowing season.
At the end of the mowing season use a fuel stabilizer
In the spring, don't use that old gas unless you properly used a fuel stabilizer, it can cause a number of problems. Better to use fresh gasoline to begin the new mowing season.
Mowing the lawn can be a weekly ritual of the spring and summer months for many Americans. However each year, nearly 80,000 Americans require hospital treatment from injuries caused by lawn mowers, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The most common injuries were caused by strikes from debris, such as rocks and branches, propelled by the mower's spinning blades.
The study, published in the April 2006 online edition of the Annals of Emergency Medicine, is the first to examine the extent and mechanisms of lawn mower injuries nationwide.
The researchers also concluded that the number of injuries from lawn mowers is increasing, with the majority of injuries occurring in children under age 15 and adults age 60 and older.