“99% of lawn care problems are lawn watering related. Improper watering causes lawn funguses, kills beneficial microbial activity, kills soils, and causes shallow growing grass roots.”
So real quick, I don’t think I would attribute 99% of lawn care problems to irrigation but it’s up there.
Irrigation is the most important thing to get right in your lawn care routine. Here are some signs you are watering your grass TOO MUCH.
Excess ‘Thatch’ Build Up
If you have a ton of material on top of the soil (take a look), this is a sign you are overwatering. Overwatering does not encourage deep root growth since the water is in high amounts at the surface. We HAVE to reverse this to allow our lawns to thrive when temps get higher, else we will have to increase watering even more. To correct, cut back the watering slowly (increase the duration and decrease the number of days you water) so we can encourage the roots to grow deeper, come fall we can rake the thatch if necessary.
This includes mushrooms… albeit not as bad as some other fungus it is a telltale sign we are overwatering. You should not have mushrooms in the summer. If you do, cut down on your irrigation!
Also, if you have discoloration (brown-red) spots in your yard this is a pretty common sign you have a fungus that has been brought about by overwatering. Remember deep but infrequent!
and then there’… The dreaded NRS (Ring Spot)
This is a fungus (and yes, Immunox will get rid of it) but this is a classic sign of poor drainage and/or overwatering your grass. If you have these patterns hit it with the Immunox and CUT BACK ON YOUR IRRIGATION! You will also want to aerate regularly in the spring and fall, mow often, and use only high-quality organic fertilizers.
If you have a ton of smooth crabgrass popping up this too is a sign of overwatering (and that you didn’t get down a decent pre-emergent in the spring). Other weeds thrive in wet conditions, but this is the most common in many areas. A selective herbicide that lists crabgrass will take care of the weeds, you will be responsible for fixing your watering habits. Be careful, most lawn-safe herbicides WILL KILL your grass in high heat. Here is one that is safe.
If your grass has become a playground for gnats, mosquitos, whatever… you are likely overwatering. Fix the watering and use a lawn safe insecticide to take care of the bugs.
“But, my LAWN WILL DIE IF I DON’T WATER IT THE WAY I HAVE BEEN!”
No, no it won’t. As long as you give the lawn .5″ of water a week it will just go dormant and come back super strong in the fall when the weather cools. To keep things green, 1 – 1.5″ of water a week is the target. Overwatering will guarantee you a weak lawn that will remain susceptible to all sorts of lawn issues going forward. If you are approaching summer and want to try to correct your mis-watering, do it slowly. If you’ve been watering something like 10 mins a day, twice a day; cut that back to 20 minutes (for pop-up sprays, 40 minutes for rotor-type sprinklers) every other day. See how the grass responds then adjust (add/subtract days, not time). Yes, the lawn will struggle a bit as you ween it off this water-heavy program but soon enough you will get things in order.
Use the watering guides I include with each of the steps for The Lawn Process. Also, your state likely has a great resource with lawn watering guides, here is one for Utah – https://conservewater.utah.gov/guide.html
If you already use this and have these issues, it is most definitely a sprinkler adjustment issue. See if your city offers a free sprinkler checkup, chances are they do and they are a great resource.