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Watering your lawn

By: City of Toronto

Posted on: July 14, 05

Here are some tips about how to water you lawn effectively this season. Keep in mind that most people over water their lawns. Following these tips would help your lawn and also your water bill.

  • Water early! Watering in the morning means less water is lost to evaporation.
  • Water 2.5 cm a week, including rainfall. Most people overwater, yet experts say you only need 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water, a week, including rainfall, to maintain a vibrant healthy lawn.
  • Water less frequently! Water less frequently and you'll reduce the risk of lawn disease. It's true ... over watering is over-rated because it can lead to shallow roots, ideal growing conditions for more weeds and lawn disease. After all, most healthy lawns need only 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water, per week ... and this includes rainfall. Also remember to water slowly and deeply. Frequent light sprinkling leads to shallow roots.
  • Use a rain gauge. A rain gauge is the perfect tool to help measure lawn watering. For a free rain gauge, attend your local Environment Day, hosted by your councillor. Visit for more information.
  • Water according to soil type and weather
    For the Toronto area, most experts recommend a good watering, once a week. And it's important not to apply water faster than the soil can soak it up. Stop when water starts to run off your lawn. Note that clay soils retain water quite well, but that sandy soils may need to be watered twice a week (.05 inch each time).
  • Choose the right sprinkler for your lawn. When choosing a sprinkler, focus on two things: the flow rate and the size of your lawn. Some sprinklers may take 15 minutes, or up to two hours to provide the maximum 1 or 2.5 cm, of required watering. Use the rain gauge to measure your sprinkler's flow rate. If you have a small lawn use a stationary sprinkler ... it penetrates deep into the soil. For large lawns impulse sprinklers provide the best coverage while oscillating (fan) sprinklers tend to shoot water, often missing patches of grass and losing water to wind. If you have an inground sprinkler system, program it to water just before dawn, make sure the spray isn't hitting the driveway or sidewalk and install a rain sensor.
  • Let your grass "sleep it off" Is your lawn a little yellowish or brown during the Summer? Don't worry ... this is called ??dormancy' and it's how your lawn protects itself against the heat. It's true ... so, when the weather turns hot and dry, let your lawn sleep. This means no watering, no mowing and no foot traffic. And don't worry ... your lawn will awaken soon enough.
  • Stop paying for water your lawn never receives
    When you water your lawn in the evening, grass blades not the soil get most of the water. At the same time, the grass remains wet overnight, which can lead to lawn disease. It's just as costly to water on hot, sunny or windy days and lose the water to evaporation. That's why it's best to water early in the day.
  • Watch the weather!
    Rain is free. Most weeks your lawn receives all the rain it needs. Healthy lawns only need 2.5 cm (1 inch a week), including rainfall.
  • Hand water your garden plants. Apply water directly to the plant rootzone by hand watering or using a soaker hose. These inexpensive ways minimize water loss and reduce maintenance while increasing your free time.
  • Use a rain barrel ... Don't let stormwater go to waste. Make sure the downspouts from your home's eavestroughs are disconnected from the sewer system and instead drain into a rain barrel, where you can use the water when needed. At the same time, you're helping reduce combined sewer overflows and protecting our watercourses.
  • Water new trees. Care for your new tree ... it benefits us all.

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