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Does My Lawn Still Need Water in Fall & Winter?

One of the trickiest things about maintaining a healthy lawn is figuring out when and how much to watering it during different seasons. It’s easy to forget the lawn still needs water even when temperatures are cooling down for fall & winter. Or, you might just keep watering it as much as you do in summer, which can cause problems as well.

We often get asked the question “Should I continue watering my landscape through winter?”

While you will reduce the frequency with which you provide your lawn during the cool months, you shouldn’t stop watering completely. Keeping your lawn and landscape properly watered, even in winter, will help ensure healthy, strong plants year-round.

Question: How much water does my lawn need in fall & winter?

Answer: Unfortunately, it’s usually feast or famine when it comes to how most of us care for our winter lawns. Many of us don’t water at all and those of us that do tend to over-water. St. Augustine lawns are especially susceptible to damage from over-watering in fall and winter. The trick is finding just the right balance.

A good rule of thumb is to apply the equivalent of one-inch of rainfall per week during the warmer growing season with your automated sprinkler system. That is enough water to keep established plants healthy. As temperatures cool down significantly in fall, you can start cutting back that frequency to say once every two weeks. But remember, a deep watering is still important.

Get a rain gauge! Put them out in various areas of the landscape so you know how much moisture your landscape received if it does indeed rain.

If it rains, then don’t water that week. As we get into the depths of winter, you can probably go three weeks without watering. If it has rained regularly and adequately, you may not need to water.

Question: I have an automated sprinkler system, do I need to adjust it?

Answer: Yes. Actually, we recommend turning it off completely in winter. When your lawn does need water, simply turn it on manually. If you don’t turn it off, you may forget to change the program and your system will keep running on the same schedule it did during warmer months.

In fact, winter is a great time to refurbish and repair your system if you noticed issues with water pressure, leaks or if there were areas of the landscape that remained dry through summer. Make sure your system is ready to go by next summer! Need a recommendation for a certified irrigation repair specialist? Give us a call and we’ll recommend one.

Question: How do I know if my landscape needs water?

Answer: Go old school! Find out if your landscape needs water with the old-fashioned screwdriver test. Push a screwdriver into the soil to a depth of 5 or 6 inches. If the soil is moist to that depth, you’re good. If it is dry, then you’ll most likely need to water. Download our handy Winter Water Guideline here.

Question: What if a freeze is coming?

Answer: We always recommend watering your landscape the morning before a freeze occurs. Moist soil will help to insulate roots better than dry soil. Plus, there is a better chance that roots will freeze if the soil is dry. Be sure to water before temperatures reach freezing to avoid irrigation breaks and dangerous ice on walkways and plants.

Paying close attention to the amount of moisture your landscape receives through winter is necessary to keep certain diseases at bay including Take-All Root Rot and root die-off.

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