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How to Manage Pests

The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns

How to water

Water deep and infrequently

Light sprinkling is only beneficial for newly planted turf when the roots are developing in the very top portion of the soil. As turf is established, roots extend deeper into the soil. Light sprinkling will encourage root development only near the soil surface and stunt deeper root growth. Shallow root systems require frequent watering to keep the surface wet, creating an ideal environment for weeds and diseases. Although some grasses have less extensive root systems than others, deep, infrequent watering that allows water to penetrate the top 6 to 8 inches of soil will promote healthy root growth. It also maximizes water-use efficiency and turfgrass quality.

Water uniformly

Lawns need uniform coverage to maintain their vigor and a healthy appearance. Brown spots in a lawn are often due to uneven coverage. Use a sprinkler system that can provide this coverage.

Do not overwater

Too much water is not only wasteful but can also increase turf growth, which requires more frequent mowing. Saturated soil can cause poor soil aeration and, as a result, weaken turf making it vulnerable to diseases and invasions of weeds. Not enough water can cause turf to dry out.

Let the soil partially dry out between waterings. Water when the top two inches of soil have dried out. Use an object such as a screwdriver to probe your soil and measure the depth of the moisture.

Avoid runoff and puddling by spacing out, or cycling, irrigations throughout the week until the desired amount is applied. On compacted or heavy clay soils, aerify the soil so that water can easily move into it.

Roll your mouse over the illustration to see the result of light, frequent watering.

Rollover illustration showing deep vs. shallow watering


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

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