Introduction to Irrigation

Properly watering a lawn is key to maintaining it in a healthy condition. Most lawn problems are related to irrigation. Failing to apply sufficient water will result in dry areas, which will turn brown and ultimately die if  left too long. On the other hand, excessive watering can lead to disease.

Calculate the minutes to water your lawn

The key to proper irrigation is learning to recognize the signs of a thirsty lawn. Changes in a lawn’s color, firmness, or difficulty probing the soil with a knife or screwdriver are all indicators of an underwater lawn.

Usually, certain sections of the lawn will repeatedly show wilting before others. These areas likely receive the least water due to poor irrigation uniformity, top of slope or the most direct sunlight. Check for uniform sprinkler coverage by placing rain gauge cups per irrigations station in the wilted area and green area.

After running the sprinklers for fifteen minutes, check the amount of water in each rain gauge cup. If the amount is not the same across all of the cups, a sprinkler adjustment or an additional sprinkler may be necessary.

Watering New Sod

Since the roots of brand-new sod are not fully developed, they are unable to reach deeper water, and must be watered more frequently during the first few weeks after being planted. To keep your lawn hydrated during its first week, you must water three times per day for short periods of time. In the second week, the roots have begun to penetrate deeper into the soil and you can water less often (two times per day). In the third week, the roots are even deeper and you can water once per day. After three weeks, your lawn should be established enough to be watered every other day if you increase the time appropriately.

Daily Watering Schedule

Week 01 

7:00 am
11:00 am
2:00 pm

Week 02 

7:00 am
2:00 pm

Week 03 

7:00 am

Watering Time

Look for signs of wilting due to lack of water. If you observe wilting, water immediately and increase the irrigation time on your clock.

Adjust according to weather – increase water during warm/ dry or windy weather.

Watering Marathon Lite

Marathon Lite is grown in an organic mat, which has been designed for its moisture holding capacity. The Marathon Lite mat holds more water than soil and therefore needs less frequent irrigation during the early establishment period. Once the turf begins to root into the soil, irrigating Marathon Lite is the same as the field-grown Marathon sod. As a general rule, you can water the Marathon Lite once per day for the first three weeks. If dry spots appear in the lawn during the afternoon, the irrigation time should be increased. If dry spots persist, an irrigation uniformity problem is likely, and an additional sprinkler head may be required. After the first three weeks, you should begin to taper back to once every two or three days, depending on how quickly the sod is rooting.

Watering Established Sod - Rules of Thumb

After a lawn has become established (approximately 6 to 8 weeks), water according to the following guidelines:

  • Water as infrequently as possible. In the cooler months, this would be once or twice a week; in the warmer months, it could be three or more times per week.

  • Do not water shaded areas of lawn as
    frequently as areas that receive full sun.

  • Water as early in the day as possible (first thing in the morning). Do not water lawn between 4 pm and 2 am

  • Note of Caution: Be sure to watch out for a bluegray tint and/or limp areas in the lawn. This is not a fungus; rather, it is caused by dehydration and indicates that immediate watering is needed. Such spots usually occur on tops of mounds, or in areas where sprinkler coverage is not adequate. (Watering in full sun is acceptable and will not burn the blades.

Watering Established Sod - The Specifics

To Determine the correct sprinkler run time, you must first determine the sprinkler’s precipitation rate and uniformity. Follow the directions below. Alternatively, go to the to learn about the latest technology that makes lawn irrigation easy and water efficient.

To Determine Your Precipitation Rate and Uniformity:

  • Evenly place measuring containers on lawn, using a minimum spacing of 10 feet.

  • Turn on your sprinkler system for 15 minutes

  • Turn off your sprinkler system

  • Keep measuring containers in place

  • Measure and record the inches of water in each container

  • Note the containers with the lowest and greatest amount of water.

Calculation of Precipitation Rate

Take the measurement from the container with the least amount of water and multiply by four. (i.e. 1/2 inch x 4 = 2 inches per hour). This is your hourly precipitation rate. Use this number to determine your watering requirements. Be sure that you are providing a uniform irrigation pattern to your lawn as described above.

Note: Precipitation rates are typically greater than 0.25 and less than 2.5. If your calculations are outside this range, we suggest that you check your calculations to ensure you have computed the correct rate.

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