Watering the lawn at night or multiple times per day
Our condo community is in the city of Ann Arbor. What is the best way to water our lawns and set our automatic sprinkler system? Night or early morning? How many times per week or day? How long? We mostly have clay soil and are concerned about waste water running off down the drains
Watering plants and lawns especially in clay soils is always challenging. The goal is to provide no more than 1 inch of water in a week (including rainfall) and to do this without causing runoff. It will need to be determined how long the lawn can be watered until it stops infiltrating the soil and then just runs off. There will always be some runoff but there is a point where it becomes a waste of water. Also it needs to be determined the amount that is put down in a given period of time. Use of small butter tubs, tuna or cat food cans placed around a sprinkler will give you the amount put down in a given period. From this you determine how often the lawn would need to be watered to supply the inch of water it needs in a week. Watering is best done in the morning and not in the late evening. This keeps the time the lawn is wet to a minimum and reduces conditions that cause disease. If you can put down only a quarter of an inch of water before serious runoff occurs than you will have to water four more days in a week. Of course this needs to take into account rainfall. A good rain gauge can provide some information but remember a heavy rainfall can have runs off. Also remember clay only holds so much water and if kept too wet the plants (trees, shrubs and flowers) can get root rot.