Water is the most important element required for plant growth. It is required for:

    •  Germination
    •  Cellular development
    •  Tissue growth
    •  Photosynthesis
    •  Temperature control and stability
    •  Solvent and carrier of plant food
    •  Large quantities of water are also required for grass growth.
    •  Grass is over 80% water.
    •  During drought, plant nutrient uptake is decreased and normal growth and development is impaired.

Water Absorption

    • Water mainly enters the plant through the roots; root hairs are most active in water absorption
    • Water supply, soil temperature, transpiration rate and effectiveness of the root system all effect water absorption
    • Water can be absorbed by leaves, especially by young actively growing leaves. Water condenses on leaves in the form of dew during the night and early morning.
    • Under Stress: Use syringing or light watering. Showering of the grass lightly will create conditions for absorption of water by foliage.
    • Absorbed water is transported in plants through xylem
    • Majority of water is lost to the atmosphere; only 2% of absorbed water is utilized for metabolic process
    • Water loss is through plant stomata
    • Turf plants use about 0.2 inches of water per day
    • Evapotranspiration: water lost by transpiration and evaporation
    • Internal stress occurs when plants transpire more than they absorb or “when water use exceeds supply“.
    • Water shortages affect development and physiological processes.
    • Wilt: Plant leaf folding, rolling and becoming flaccid due to loss of turgidity.
    • Just before wilt, grass leaves turn gray- bluish or deep green. At this stage footprints remain in a lawn because it can no longer bounce back.

Excessive Watering

  • Excessive watering results in wet wilt causing plants to turn yellowish green
  • Reason this happens with excessive watering:
  • Creates a N deficiency due to increase in leaching
  • More importantly, excessive water creates an oxygen deficient soil also, excessive water reduces iron availability
  • Causes root dysfunction and disease

Watering During Drought

Basic Rules

    • Mow grass at maximum acceptable height
    • Reduce weed competition
    • Irrigate without run-off

When to Water?

Water When The Lawn Needs It!


  • Evaporation caused by wind and sun is at a maximum
  • Wind can disrupt sprinkler patterns
  • Drought or stress symptoms are high in afternoon, resulting in reduced water absorption
  • Acceptable: Syringing or light watering; which can alleviate heat stress by wetting enough to cool grass surface


  • Water soaked lawns in evening encourage insects and disease


    • This is the best time to water
    • Take advantage of less wind, milder temperatures, adequate water pressure

How Often To Water?

Answer: When the lawn needs it!

  • Lawns should be watered when they dry out
  • Wilting and resilience are symptoms of lack of water
  • The Bottom Line: Water when “Mother Nature” does not supply enough to the grass plants


  • Grass blades begin rolling, exposing bottoms of blades.
  • Lawn changes from green to dark greeny-blue very rapidly

Resilience – Ability of lawn to bounce back into shape. If footprints in a lawn last beyond a few seconds, its resilience may be reduced

Soil Probe – Coring tube takes a plug of soil allowing you to see and feel underlying soil.


  • Roots grow only where there is water.
  • Avoid wetting lawn surface only; this discourages roots from going deeper, eventually this increases water needs because the root mass decreases.
  • Wet surfaces also encourage insects and disease.
  • Encourage deep roots with deep watering; deep roots eventually can draw on underground water supply.
  • Different grasses and soil types require different amounts of water.
  • Local weather patterns, hot and windy weather; grass will require more water.

How Much to Water?

  • Moisten soil to a depth of 6-8 inches. This is accomplished by applying one inch of water.
  • Average lawn depletes 1” of water in 3 days
  • It takes 624 gallons of water to cover 1,000 sq ft with 1” of water.
  • Apply water as uniformly as possible to a depth of 6” to 8”, to avoid run-off
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