A lot of water gets wasted trying to keep up with the Joneses and their green lawns. But lawns don’t need to drink as much as you think and over watering them will not only cost you but waste a natural resource as well. To stay green in summer, lawns need only about one inch of water a week, including rain. Here’s how to determine if your lawn’s thirst is being quenched.
On its GreenScaping website, the Environmental Protection Agency advocates a number of landscaping practices that can improve the health and appearance of your lawn and garden while protecting and preserving natural resources. Being stingy with the water is on the list.
Water your lawn deeply, but infrequently, to moisten the whole root zone. Let the soil dry between waterings to prevent lawn disease and save water. You can even let areas of lawn that don’t get heavy wear go brown and dormant—just water once a month and it’ll bounce back in the fall. Here’s how to measure the amount of water your sprinklers are spouting.
- Scatter clean, empty tuna cans or other straight-sided containers on your lawn.
- Turn on the sprinklers and check the time.
- When most cans have one inch of water in them, turn off the sprinkler and check how long it ran.
- Now you know how long to run your sprinkler each week in summer if you want to keep your lawn green.
When you mow, cut no more than one-third the height of the grass. This minimizes the amount of grass clippings. The EPA says that “grasscycling,” or leaving the clippings on the lawn can make lawns healthier. Mulching mowers makes grasscycling easy and can reduce mowing time by 30 to 40 percent by not having to bag clippings.
Mulching is one of the factors considered in Consumer Reports lawn mower tests. Eleven self-propelled mowers aced our mulching test but only one lawn tractor excelled at this task and no push mowers.
—Mary H.J. Farrell