Do you want to walk barefoot across cool, soft grass? Especially on those hot summer days? We’d love for you to do that! We also want you to take care of your lawn in a healthy way that saves the most water.

One might assume that proper lawn care begins in the spring but creating that beautiful lawn can start at any time. Sometimes it’s even better to start in the fall. Either way, you need to begin with good soil, full of organic material that will both provide nutrition and help hold in that moisture. But if you don’t already have that, how do you get it?

First, dethatch your lawn once a year. Most lawns need this done when the layer of thatch reaches roughly ½” thick. Cool season grasses, such as bluegrass, need to be dethatched in the fall, whereas warm season grasses, such as Bermudagrass, need to be dethatched in the spring.

Aerating is the second step needed to keep your lawn as healthy and water efficient as possible. If you have an older lawn, or have highly compacted soil, you should aerate twice a year — once in the spring and again in the fall. If you are aerating, or hiring someone else to do it, run the irrigation first and flag all your spray heads or rotors. This prevents inadvertently creating the need for sprinkler repairs!  Aerate the whole lawn one direction and then again perpendicular to the first pass.

Lastly, top dress your lawn with at least a ½” of fine textured compost twice a year to add nutrients back into the soil and help retain moisture.

Also, regularly sharpen the blades on your mower and set it up as a mulching mower. Your mowing height should be as high as possible to help maintain a healthy lawn and conserve water.

Watering correctly is most important, so maintain your irrigation system year-round, and follow the Water by the Seasons watering recommendations. Check all the filters on each of your spray heads or rotors, then run your system to ensure that all of your spray nozzles or rotors are aligned and aren’t clogged. Repair or replace anything that isn’t working properly. Also check the base of each spray head to make sure you don’t have a leak at the base. The ground will probably be soft and squishy if there is one. To improve efficiency of your system, choose high efficiency sprinkler nozzles (rebates of $2 are available).

One last thing. Kick those shoes off and go enjoy that lawn!

Author: Richard Perce, Irrigation Efficiency Specialist with the Water Resources Division for the Water Authority. Have a question about the article