Lawn Tips

Grass is the most durable plant for traffic areas, but it also requires the most water. In fact, water consumption can be 10 times greater in the summer due to irrigation.

In addition, grass does not take care of itself; it is the most labor intensive part of your landscape. Evaluate your lawn needs and consider replacing unused grass with decks, patios and water-wise plants.

A breath of fresh air

Punch holes in your lawn if it is compacted by traffic or the soil is heavy clay. Sprinkle sand and/or compost over the area. Adding grass seed will build up the turf with desirable species.

Remove thatch

Thatch is last year's dead stems and roots. If it is over ½ inch deep it can prevent air, water and nutrients from reaching the ground. Remove it with a sturdy rake or rent a power thatcher.

Mow, but not too much

Mow often, but don't cut shorter than 2 inches. The longer grass will shade the roots and retain moisture. Keep your mower blades sharp.


The fine grass clippings will act as mulch to retain moisture. As it breaks down, it will form a natural fertilizer that can meet a quarter of your lawn's nutrient needs.

Dormant, not dead

In very hot, dry spells, grass may turn brown as it goes dormant. It will recover with cooler weather and higher humidity.

The right amount of water

Overwatering will cause diseases and loss of nutrients from your lawn. Design a system that waters evenly and deeply. Watering thoroughly, but infrequently, makes roots grow deeper and more drought resistant. Grass is best watered with sprinklers that deliver large drops of water close to the ground. Overlap the sprinkler patterns for good coverage. Adjust your watering to compensate for changing seasons and weather conditions.

To keep a lawn healthy in spring and fall, 1½ inches of water per week is sufficient. When temperatures exceed 85 degrees, increase watering to 2 inches or more. This amount of water should penetrate 6 inches into the earth. Check periodically and adjust the schedule accordingly.

Sprinkler Test

tuna_canUse this easy method to determine the amount of water your sprinklers provide:

  1. Set out five empty tuna-type cans from the sprinkler to the edge of its spray pattern.
  2. Turn on the sprinkler for exactly 15 minutes.
  3. Measure the depth of water in each can and add up the numbers. Divide by 5 to get an average depth.
  4. On the chart, find the average water depth in tuna can after 15 minutes. To the right is the total watering time in minutes for 1 inch of water.