Watering Your Lawn in Arkansas: A Complete Guide
Every lawn care is seemingly beset by the same questions - how long, how much, and how often to water one’s grass. Worse still, internet forums, trade publications, folk wisdom, and more are full of opinions, making it that much more difficult to get a straight answer. At Turf Team though, we want to help you cut through the noise and finally get the answers that you’ve been looking for. So if you’re interested in a definitive guide to watering your Arkansas lawn, keep reading!
How long should you water your lawn?
We recommend watering your lawn until it’s covered by one inch of water. It generally takes about an hour to see an inch of water, so aim to water your lawn for 20 minutes, 3 times a week.
Different grasses will need different watering times based on a wide variety of factors, ranging from soil conditions and grass species to external factors like weather, temperature, and rainfall. To make sure you’re watering your lawn correctly, you’ll need to learn the signs of over or under-watered grass to make any necessary adjustments.
Signs of over-watered grass include:
- Squishy areas of grass and soil that persist for several hours after watering.
- An overabundance of weeds like crabgrass.
- The spread of lawn fungus, including mushrooms.
- Yellowing grass.
Sings of under-watered grass include:
- Pale, discolored grass, often the color of straw.
- Shrunken or rolled-up grass blades.
- Slowed or halted growth.
- Hardened soil.
How long should you water your lawn with a sprinkler?
When watering using a sprinkler system, we recommend 30 minutes sessions three times a week as opposed to 20. Whether you’re watering with a hose or a sprinkler system, you ideally want your overall total amount of water applied to be the same. Sprinklers, however, distribute water over a larger area than a hose is typically capable of, meaning that it will take slightly longer to achieve the one-inch mark that so many grass species prefer.
Can you water your lawn too much?
Yes, you can absolutely water too much. More is not necessarily better when it comes to grass, so it's critical that you’re careful to not be too heavy-handed. An over-watered lawn is a prime candidate for the spread of disease and fungus, many of which are already endemic to our region. Where your grass is concerned then, too much of a good thing, be it fertilizer, water, or even sunlight, is definitely too much.
Best time to water your lawn
It’s best to avoid watering at the hottest time of day, which is why it’s usually recommended to water in the morning before 10:00 AM. Watering during the day’s peak heat will lead to accelerated evaporation, reducing the efficiency of your watering program significantly. Additionally, the combination of warmth and moisture is a perfect breeding ground for fungi, making it best to water early in the day.
Why is it bad to water grass at night?
Just like it's not ideal to water during the heat of the day, watering at night can be equally deleterious to your lawn’s health. Remember how we said that the midday heat would cause water to evaporate too quickly? Well, the cool nighttime temperatures will allow water to sit for too long, providing disease and fungus with a place to grow.
Figuring out the careful balance of water absorption and evaporation to set your lawn up for healthy growth takes practice and experience.
How to water different grass types
As their names suggest, warm and cool-season grasses tend to do best in temperature and condition-specific climates, without much in the way of overlap. Varieties like Kentucky Bluegrass or Fescue tend to thrive as you get further North or to areas of higher elevation. Warm-season grasses like Zoysiagrass and Bermudagrass, on the other hand, tend to prefer higher temperatures and more humidity. For a more in-depth resource, check out our blog on the common grass types in Arkansas. In any case, though, discovering which variety of grass you have will have a substantial impact on your watering routine.
How to water warm-season grass
Warm-season grasses, which are more commonly found in the South, including right here in Arkansas, tend to be slightly more water-efficient than their cool-season counterparts. Thriving during hot and humid summer conditions, we recommend sticking as close to one inch per week as possible throughout the entire year, understanding that fall and winter dormancy may still occur. It is particularly important to stick to this if your lawn is made up of:
- Centipede Grass
- St. Augustine Grass
How to water cool-season grass
More tolerant of winter conditions and limited sun, cool-season grasses tend to require increased levels of water, particularly during summer. With the caveat that there is a wide range of water requirements across different species, your cool-season grass may prefer as much as two inches a week during summer and one inch throughout the rest of the year. Sticking carefully to your grass’ needs or consulting a lawn care professional is your best chance to avoid over-watering, particularly if your lawn contains:
- Kentucky Bluegrass
- Tall Fescue
- Fine Fescue
- Creeping Fescue
- Perennial Ryegrass