Watering tips for summer

Kelly Heidbreder
Kelly Heidbreder

Morning or night? That is the question. Do you water your lawn and garden in the morning or at night?

I see a lot of sprinklers turning on throughout the day and at night, so you might think the answer is ... night. Nope. The best time to water your lawn and garden is early in the morning. 

Morning moisture

Have you ever walked through the grass or picked veggies in the garden early in the morning? Chances are, you will walk out with wet feet. The dew that forms on the leaves during the night is a big hint from Mother Nature. So follow her lead and water your lawn and garden in the early morning. 

Temperatures are also on your side in the early morning. Hot summer days will zap moisture from the soil and can also evaporate the water before it has a chance to give your lawn or garden the benefits they need. Usually, the coolest temperature of the day is just before dawn and it will help keep the moisture in the soil. 

Winds are usually light in those wee hours. Light winds are helpful because there is less chance for the moisture to evaporate before it soaks into the soil. 

When is a good time? 

Start your sprinkler somewhere between 4 and 6 a.m. You don’t have to get out of bed to turn on the spigot, or have a fancy irrigation system to get the job done. Go to your favorite home and garden store and look for an irrigation timer. You can hook this up to the spigot and set it to start early in the morning. You can also set it to stop automatically. 

If you are lucky enough to have an irrigation system, turn all of the sprinkler heads on during the day and walk around the yard to make sure they are pointed in the right direction. Many times, a sprinkler head gets bumped or damaged from the mower or walking traffic and can change its spray pattern. 

You want to avoid having the water spraying into your driveway, only to drain right out of your yard. You also don’t want the water to hit your house. If you have hard water or water with a lot of iron in it, you will easily be able to tell if it is hitting the house because it will leave a rusty rainbow for you to scrub off. 

Adjust your sprinkler heads to spray into your lawn and garden with a small area of overlap if possible. You can also adjust the type of spray pattern each sprinkler head will cast. The raised beds and flower boxes will need a light mist. The big areas in the lawn can handle a longer pattern. 

Baskets, planters 

You don’t have to stand with a hose watering those planters and hanging baskets, unless you have a lot of extra time on your hands. I don’t know about you, but my family is very busy and we are on the go. So my hanging baskets and planters tend to get neglected. 

But, no more of that. My friends at Four Star Greenhouse in Carlton, Mich., set me up with a simple irrigation system that easily snaps together and hooks to my garden hose. You can find these kits at your favorite home and garden center. And, of course, that hose is fitted with an automatic timer so I won’t forget to turn them on. Now, all of my little baskets and pots are happy. 

How much? 

Your turf needs about an inch of moisture each time you water it. So how do you know when it has enough? You need to do the tuna can test. 

The timing all depends on the water pressure at your house. Put a flat container like a clean tuna can out in the yard within the sprinkler’s reach. Turn on the sprinkler and mark down the time. Keep checking the tuna can until it has an inch of water in it. This will be the amount of time you will need to continue to keep your sprinklers going to deliver the proper amount of moisture to your lawn. Happy watering.

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