How to Restore an Overwatered Lawn?
Looking after the grass on your lawn can be intimidating and challenging. There are so many different things that can go wrong, but almost all of them can be fixed if you know what you are doing, restoring a patchy, brown lawn to even, green vibrancy in a few simple steps. Learning how to fix problems with your lawn is important, and a bit of knowledge and understanding can make the process of lawn care and maintenance far easier.
Overwatering your lawn can be a significant problem and can have a considerable impact on the health of your lawn, drowning the grass and causing yellowed or even bare patches. If you notice signs of overwatering, you are going to want to try to restore your overwatered lawn as fast as possible. Here at Best of machinery, we have put together a handy introductory guide to how to restore an overwatered lawn, along with a brief explanation of how overwatering works and the possible problems it can cause.
What is Overwatering?
Watering your lawn is important, particularly in hot, dry conditions, but water can be bad for your lawn as well as good if you are not careful! If you add too much water to your lawn, especially in humid conditions such as hotter, wetter summers, it can have unfortunate consequences for the health of the grass that makes up your lawn!
Healthy watering penetrates deeply into the soil rather than leaving a large amount of water around the upper layers of the soil, encouraging the roots of the grass plants to grow deep, thrusting downwards into the ground in search of more water. If you overwater your lawn, then the roots will be shallow, as they have no need to search for water deeper in the soil. This makes the roots of your grass far weaker and more susceptible to a wide range of problems.
What About not Watering Enough?
Not watering your lawn enough can cause it to go brown over the course of a hot, dry summer. This is not as bad as it looks, though; brown grass such as this will have turned dormant rather than have entirely died and will return to green, vibrant life when the temperatures cool down, and rains return. While obviously, this is not ideal, it actually often causes fewer problems than overwatering does!
It may be tempting to attempt to restore browned, dormant grass to health by watering generously, but it is actually a better idea to simply try to reduce stress on it. Mow at a longer height and try not to walk on the grass to reduce stress on your lawn, and you should be able to avoid much need for heavy watering.
Sprinkler Systems and Overwatering
Sprinkler systems can be an excellent benefit for your lawn, helping it to stay well hydrated and healthy during hotter, dryer periods, as well as spreading water more evenly than watering your lawn by hand and reducing the effort required for proper lawn maintenance. Most lawn sprinkler systems are relatively easy to use, which is important, as it is important to ensure that your sprinkler system is set up correctly with a number of safety features to prevent overwatering.
Make sure that your lawn sprinkler system features rain sensors, allowing the system to switch itself off in the event of heavy rain during a period of scheduled watering. Ensuring that the system can be paused in the event of a rainstorm is very important, as the constant watering provided by a sprinkler system can, when combined with the high water production of heavy rain, cause dangerous overwatering of your lawn without any fault of your own.
The Problems of Overwatering
Overwatering your lawn can cause a wide range of problems, causing significant impacts on the health and survival of the grass that makes up your lawn and often making even the nicest of lawns look tired and unhealthy. One of the main problems with overwatering your grass is the growth of fungus. If you water your lawn too often, the grass blades and the soil stay moist, giving an ideal environment for the growth of fungi.
If your grass is thin, reddish in color, and weak, then you may have developed rust fungus, a common infestation caused by overwatering. Mushrooms may also grow in overwatered lawns, as may the unpleasant spiky structures of anthracnose, which also turns your lawn an unattractive brown color.
Overwatering may also encourage the growth of weeds, as some weeds such as nutsedge and crabgrass thrive in wetter conditions than most grasses do. These can quickly crowd out grass, especially as the grass is weakened by overwatering, clogging up your lawn with unwanted weeds and killing the grass. Make sure to use a good weed killer in these instances.
The other major problem caused by overwatering is the encouragement of infestations of pests such as insects. Waterlogged lawns tend to produce far more thatch than is desirable, creating a dense mat of material that provides an excellent habitat for most insects as well as protecting them from many common insecticides such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) or imidacloprid.
Insects can attack and devour weakened and stressed lawns, such as those that have been overwatered. Cutworms and armyworms chew through blades of grass at the base, causing spreading bare patches, while white grubs can devour the roots of the grass plants, causing them to wilt and die.
How to tell if your Lawn is Overwatered?
If your lawn is overwatered, the water will fail to properly soak into the soil. If you walk on the lawn and the ground feels soft and spongy, then the soil has been saturated with water, and no more can soak in due to overwatering. Similarly, if the soil looks wet and shiny or you can see puddles or standing water in the grass, then the lawn has been significantly overwatered as the water is not soaking into the ground properly. If there’s visible runoff into your driveway or the street beside your lawn, then you have also overwatered your lawn, and the excess water is flowing away.
Excess water flows through the soil, carrying nutrients with it. As such, if the water flows out of your lawn and into the road or driveway, then it will carry the nutrients out of the soil, leaving the grass plants starved and unable to grow healthily and properly. In this case, the grass will lose its vibrant, healthy green color, fading to a pale green or even a yellowish tone in extreme cases due to lack of nitrogen in the soil for it to absorb.
How to Restore an Overwatered lawn?
Once you’ve identified that your lawn has been overwatered, you’re going to want to fix it as quickly as possible before the problems caused by the overwatering get any worse. The first step to take is to inspect your lawn carefully and try to work out how badly overwatered it is.
Consider factors like how much water the grass requires, how much of that is provided by rain, and how much is provided by your sprinkler system (if you have one). Answering these questions is an important step for working out how best to fix problems with your lawn and overwatering; you need to know how much to cut back on watering and irrigation in order to restore an overwatered lawn!
Once you’ve cut back on watering to a healthier level, you may find that there are some issues that do not go away on their own, such as browned or yellowed patches or fungal infestations. Spraying fungicides and insecticides can help, but there are a few steps that are worth taking first in order to restore your grass and the soil beneath it to full health, such as de-thatching and aerating the lawn.
De-thatching is a simple process that can break up the dense thatch around the bases of your grass plants, opening up access to the soil for water and air, as well as removing the protected environment that can encourage the growth of fungi and insect pests.
It’s worth doing this before you attempt to use fungicides or insecticides, as removing thatch makes it far easier for the insecticides or fungicides to reach their targets beneath the thatch, making the whole process far more effective, as dense thatch can protect infestations from any substances that would normally kill them. Simply break apart the layer of thatch with a gardening rake or de-thatcher in order to open up access to the covered surface of the soil.
Aeration encourages grass to grow more healthily, giving it a boost to recover from overwatering and can break up compacted soil and allow oxygen back into the ground, helping it to return to its natural, air-filled state rather than the drowned, oxygen-free state caused by overwatering.
All you need to do to restore the soil to health is to run a power core aerator (or a manual aerator) over the lawn to pull up small plugs of dirt, opening up deeper areas of soil to encourage and stimulate root growth, as well as allowing water and nutrients poured over the surface of the lawn to penetrate fully into the deeper parts of the lawn.
If your lawn is not flat, then you may find that overwatering has led to runoff, with the water flowing out of the lawn and onto the street or driveway. When this happens, it carries nutrients with it out of the soil, primarily nitrogen. This can leave the soil barren and unhealthy, making it poorly equipped for sustaining life and leaving the grass plants unable to find enough nutrition to thrive.
In order to fix this, you may want to fertilize your lawn with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer once you’ve reduced your watering, allowing the nitrogen to return to the soil and helping your grass to recover from the overwatering and grow healthily once more.
Overwatering can be a significant problem for your lawn, causing a wide range of unfortunate issues and damaging your grass significantly. It’s a problem that’s easier to prevent than it is to fix, unfortunately, but if you follow the tips presented in Best of Machinery’s guide to restoring an overwatered lawn, you should be able to keep your lawn healthy and strong even if something has gone wrong with your watering schedule.
Always keep an eye on the health of your grass, and adjust your watering appropriately as soon as you see any sign of health problems in the grass of your lawn.