All plants need ample water and sunlight to survive and grow to their full potential. Unfortunately, as a homeowner, you only have control over one of those factors. The good news is that with proper lawn and garden irrigation, you can maximize the growth of your plants and ensure your lawn gets the best environment possible in order to be thick, lush, and green.

Proper lawn irrigation involves a lot more than just pulling a hose out into the yard and watering the plants and grass. Careful planning and using just the right amount of water at the right times are vital in ensuring that your lawn has the most optimal conditions for growth possible.

More water, less often. One of the most common mistakes people make when watering their lawn is doing it too often. It’s easy to see why – rainforests get huge amounts of water and also have the greenest plants of any environment on earth, so the more often your lawn gets water, the better, right?

Not so fast. In fact, watering your lawn too frequently (and shallow) will cause grass and plant roots to be shorter than they should be for ideal growth. Additionally, the short roots will cause the plants to wither and die more easily in the event of a drought, as they cannot reach the water that is deeper in the soil.

Deep watering (1-2 inches) once or twice a week is much better for the health of your lawn. This causes the roots of grass and other plants to grow longer, giving them a much better chance of survival when rain is scarce.

Set a schedule and pay attention to the weather. Watering is best done early in the morning between 4 and 8 a.m. This is because less water is lost due to evaporation. Watering in the evening will cause the grass to stay wet throughout the night, which can promote the growth of turf grass diseases.

If your lawn has recently received heavy amounts of rain, you can safely avoid watering for a few days to give it time to soak up the rainfall. If the rain was light, additional watering may still be needed — placing a container outside to collect and measure rainfall is a good way to determine if this is necessary.

Watering is most vital during the hottest summer months from June through August. More water is lost to evaporation during this time, and rainfall may be reduced. There are certain things to watch out for during this time and throughout the year that can be considered tell-tale signs that your lawn is dehydrated and needs extra water:

  The grass begins to turn blue or gray.

  The grass turns brown. This does not mean the grass is dead – it will usually turn green again once it gets enough water.

  Some of the leaves begin to curl up and wilt.

  Footprints and pressure cause the grass and other plants to stay flattened.

With summer watering, you must make a commitment to either keep your grass fully watered at all times or to let it go dormant. Going back and forth is very harmful for most species of grass.

Consider installing a sprinkler system. Sprinklers and automatic lawn irrigation systems can be tremendously effective at preserving and improving the look of your lawn with minimal interaction on your part. Modern sprinkler systems will have timers that allow them to only water during ideal early morning hours, as well as water and rain sensors that cause them to automatically shut off during rainfall or when too much water beings to accumulate in the soil.

If you decide to have a sprinkler system installed in your lawn, make sure the sprinkler heads are low to the ground and aren’t spraying a mist into the air. They should also be spread evenly throughout the grass and that there is no excessive overlap. You should also check the heads regularly to make sure they aren’t watering your sidewalk, the front of your house, or your driveway.