What’s the Best Way to Water Your Lawn? Well, It Depends…

June 26, 2024

Six soil types infographic with icons and descriptors.


6 Types of Soils That Affect How to Water Your Lawn

There are varying recommendations for watering your lawn, but which is the right one for your grass?  For instance, some experts state that it’s better to water less often, but for ‘longer and deeper’ to promote downward root growth.  Other experts state that it’s better to water more often, to maintain a consistent H2O enviornment within the soil.  How often you water your grass is highly dependent on the types of soil you have beneath the surface.  We talk about 6 different types of soil and how those affect the way you water your lawn.

1. Sandy Soil

Sandy soil is characterized by its large particles that allow water to drain quickly, often leaving the soil dry. This rapid drainage means that water and nutrients can easily leach away from the roots of your grass.

Watering Tips for Sandy Soil:

  • Frequency: Water more frequently but with shorter durations to ensure water reaches the roots before draining away.
    • A,B,C Program Start Times: Set additional watering program start times as needed.  The watering times for each station will be short bursts of watering, followed by a waiting period (approximately 30 minutes) before the next watering program start time.
      • Also recommended for sloped lawns of any soil type, to prevent runoff and loss of water (we’ve all seen when water is just running down the street or gutter).
  • Depth: Aim for shallow watering cycles to supplement the quick drainage.
    • Station Watering Times: Short burst of watering are recommended, as longer waterings will pass through the sand and not be used by the grass’s roots.
  • Time of day: Water early in the morning to minimize evaporation during the day.

Further Reading on Sandy Soil:

2. Clay Soil

Clay soil has small particles that hold onto water tightly, often leading to slow drainage and potential waterlogging. It can become compacted easily, affecting root growth.

Watering Tips for Clay Soil:

  • Frequency: Water less frequently but deeply to allow water to penetrate into the soil.
  • Depth: Ensure water penetrates deep into the soil to encourage deeper root growth.
  • Time: Water in the early morning to reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

Further Reading on Clay Soil:

3. Peaty Soil

Peaty soil is high in organic matter, retaining moisture well but can become waterlogged if drainage is poor. It is typically acidic and nutrient-rich.

Watering Tips for Peaty Soil:

  • Frequency: Water less frequently due to its high moisture retention.
  • Depth: Ensure water penetrates deeply but be cautious of waterlogging.
  • Time: Water in the early morning to minimize fungal growth.

Further Reading on Peaty Soil:

4. Silty Soil

Silty soil is smooth and retains water better than sandy soil but drains more quickly than clay soil. It tends to be fertile and easy to cultivate.

Watering Tips for Silty Soil:

  • Frequency: Moderate watering frequency to maintain consistent moisture levels.
  • Depth: Water deeply to encourage deep root growth.
  • Time: Water in the early morning to maximize absorption.

Further Reading on Silty Soil:

5. Chalky Soil

Chalky soil is alkaline and composed of small stones, making it free-draining. It can be poor in nutrients and prone to drying out quickly.

Watering Tips for Chalky Soil:

  • Frequency: Water more frequently during dry periods.
  • Depth: Water deeply as chalky soil can dry out quickly.
  • Time: Water early in the morning to avoid water evaporation.

Further Reading on Chalky Soil:

6. Loamy Soil

Loamy soil is considered ideal for lawns as it retains moisture well while allowing for good drainage. It is a balanced mix of sand, silt, and clay, making it fertile and easy to work with.

Watering Tips for Loamy Soil:

  • Frequency: Water deeply but less frequently to maintain moisture levels.
  • Depth: Ensure water reaches the roots without over-saturating the soil.
  • Time: Water in the early morning to maximize absorption.

Further Reading on Loamy Soil:

General Tips to Water your Lawn for Any Soil Type

  • Watering Schedule: Adjust watering frequency based on weather conditions and soil moisture levels.
  • Morning Watering: Water early in the morning to minimize evaporation and fungal diseases.
  • Monitor Moisture: Check soil moisture regularly to avoid overwatering or underwatering.
  • A, B, C, Program Start Times: If you have soil that is porous or if your lawn (of any soil type) is on a slope, then set multiple watering program start times.  Adjust your stations to water for shorter bursts. Leave a gap between the end of the last program start time and the next program start time to allow for full saturation.

By understanding your soil type and following these watering guidelines, you can ensure your lawn receives the right amount of water, promoting healthy growth and vibrant greenery throughout the year.

How do you know what type of soil you have?

  • Use a shovel: It’s easiest to use a spade (pointy) shovel.  Press the shovel into the lawn and down to 8″ of depth.  Then push the shovel handle to reveal the soil that is hidinig underneath.  If the soil is too dry, it may be difficult to penetrate the soile with a shovel.
  • Use a soil probeSoil probes are are great for a variety of reasons including identifying soil type, checking soils saturation, and checking depth of saturation.  Soil probes are T-shaped with a handle at the top and a hollowed metal bar that penetrates into the soil.  Simply apply pressure to the top of the handle to push the probe down into the soil.  If the soil is too dry, it may be difficult to penetrate the soil.

For additional watering advice, check out our other blog about watering correctly in Utah!