Once the threat of a deep freeze is gone, you SHOULD check your sprinkler system. We will be waiting until the very last moment to begin watering our grass (more on this in a minute). The last thing you want is a huge surprise that could delay watering a week or two while sprinkler problems get fixed. Once the threat of a deep freeze is over (generally around late April to the first week of May in northern Utah) go ahead and run a test of your sprinkler system so any issues can be taken care of before watering season begins.
The next thing we are going to do is WAIT AS LONG AS WE CAN! Really, the longer you can wait to water the better. Spring is prime for root growth and by not watering, the plant will dive down to find water. This will pay huge dividends to come summertime.
Neat, I’ll wait, but how long?
The trick here is to let the grass tell us when to start watering. Take a look at this pic
This is what the grass will look like when it NEEDS water. It will not spring back after stepping on it and it will take on a sort of dull tone. This is our sign that it is time to turn on irrigation.
“BUT I DON’T WANT MY GRASS TO LOOK LIKE THIS!!”
I get it, know that this is a temporary thing; once we start watering the grass will perk right back up. But again, waiting will force roots to grow down in search of water. If we just start watering right out of the gate, based on a specific date, we do not allow the plant to do as nature intended.
Once the grass has this appearance, check the weather. Rain in a few days? Skip the watering and re-asses when the grass has this appearance again. I’ve gone into well into June before watering using this method for some years. Some of you will start watering as soon as there isn’t rain for a few days; I can only tell you that the longer you wait, the better results you will have in the Summer. Your lawn may suffer for a day or so, but it will be worth it!
In summary, everyone’s start date for irrigation is going to be different using this method. Once we start watering we will follow the plan of 1-2x irrigations per week in the spring.
Note: If your overall lawn is looking fine without irrigation but you have smaller areas that are struggling, consider spot watering those areas with a hose-end sprayer.