How to water a lawn

This is an exchange we had with a new customer this year when we were asking the standard questions that allow us to offer up the best service.
“Do you have a sprinkler system?”
“Well, my husband…”
“So he does water properly?”
“Well he waters, but I’m not sure what you mean by properly.”
For a great, organic lawn, watering is big. Huge. But there is a lot of confusion about how to do it best.
 
Short answer: An established lawn needs one inch of water every week of the growing season on average.
The long answer is complicated by how much or how little it rains, or if it has been hot or windy, whether you have an installed irrigation system or just a hose-end sprinkler and if there are any big shady trees on your property.
For people using a regular sprinkler, I always recommend watering for one and a half hours once a week in each area. That pretty much guarantees a good soaking of the soil down to the deeper roots. If it has been really dry and sunny, do it twice a week. You can read our more in depth watering tips page for even more watering information and advice.
If you’ve got an in-ground irrigation system you’ll get better results programming it to come on two or three times a week for a bit less time – we have specialists who can discuss the best irrigation system program for your lawn, for you.
Toronto is a forest city, and big trees have roots that are water hogs. Their canopy also blocks the rain like an umbrella. Make sure any grass under the tree canopy gets extra watering attention.
To make things easier here are a couple of tips: Buy a rain gauge or make one yourself from an empty tuna can or jar. That will let you measure how much rain you are really getting, and what your sprinkler is delivering so you know how much more water your lawn needs. And save yourself a lot of work and worry – a simple hose-end timer can turn the water off for you automatically, and they only cost $30 or so. They’ll last for years too – just remember to bring them inside during the winter.