Marianne Binetti

Here’s how to water your lawn and get the most of your time and money

A quick shot of watering won’t get down to the top 6 inches of soil like you need. Instead, water slowly, water deep and water less often.
A quick shot of watering won’t get down to the top 6 inches of soil like you need. Instead, water slowly, water deep and water less often. AP

Mama Mia! Here we go again with water, water, water needed everywhere, so use these tips to become the irrigation queen and water conservation king.

Proper watering now will give your plants the energy for an encore performance in the fall.

Lawns: Water deep but water less often.

Standing with the hose over your toes to hand water the lawn might feel good, but it is unlikely you’ll stand there long enough to get water down to the top 6 inches of soil. The quick shot of water sits near the top and keeps those grassroots from reaching deep to find water.

Instead, water slowly, water deep and water less often. Lawns do not need daily water. Aim for 1 inch of water spread over a week’s time.

Just say no to the low mow, if you want to conserve even more water.

Allow the lawn to grow to 3 inches tall and then remove only one-third of the blade when you mow. A taller lawn shades and cools the soil and helps to shade out weeds.

Leave the grass clippings on the lawn to return organic matter to the soil and hold moisture.

If certain spots of your lawn dry out quickly, this is a most likely a grassroots problem. Dig down and remove the large rocks, clay or hard packed soil that is stopping the roots from reaching moisture deep in the soil.

Poor soil, poor lawn and the solution.

Fall is the time to improve your soil by aerating and adding several inches of topsoil or compost right on top of your old lawn.

Do not do major lawn renovation in August. Late September is a good time to reseed with a drought-resistant Northwest lawn seed mix once the rains return.

Or, if your soil is really thin, remove the old sod and add 2 inches of rich topsoil and till this into the top 6 to 8 inches of the old soil.

A drastic renovation like this takes lots of money, time and research to find quality topsoil. Professional landscapers in your area might be your best source of good soil and great seed.

The payoff to putting in the work to improve your soil is having one of those amazing lawns that can stay green all summer on rainfall alone. This happens when grass is grown on 18 inches of rich soil.

Soils like this are most often found in the Kent, Sumner and Puyallup Valley.

Poor soil, poor lawn another solution.

You can’t fight Mother Nature, so give up trying to keep your lawn green if the soil is hard packed, clay, thin or full of rocks.

It might be more practical (and cost effective) to just allow the lawn to “go golden” every summer and then watch as it returns to green once the season changes.

Another option is to replace your traditional lawn with a lawn-free alternative. A front yard courtyard or garden of pathways and raised beds can be the answer to no more mowing and a lot less water.

As for what plants will thrive best with little summer water? You’ll have to wait until next week.