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Most lawns need one to two inches of water per week, depending upon the climate and soil conditions. In dry areas, a regular watering at least once a week is important to maintain good plant health. (Of course, watering isn't necessary if heavy rain has fallen.) During spring and fall, or in cooler, wetter regions, look for signs that watering is needed. A slower rate of growth, changes in the color, the loss of resilience (such as footprints showing in the grass) are all signs that the yard, shrubs or trees need water. You also can check the soil two to six inches below the surface. If the soil is dry and crumbles easily, then it is time to water.

The soil should always have time to dry between watering. Too frequent watering produces wet areas that make the plants susceptible to lawn diseases, insects and drowned root damage. As the soil is left to dry fully, roots will grow deeper, looking for water below the surface. Roots need to absorb small amounts of oxygen from air spaces in dry soil and are warmed by the soil as it dries. Plants respond best when the water penetrates below the top few inches of soil. Light watering produces shallow roots in the upper few inches of the soil, which causes them to dry quickly. In addition, many weeds have shallow roots that thrive on moisture near the surface.