You know you need to water your lawn in order to keep it looking green and fresh. But how much should you be watering it? What’s too much—and what’s just right?
Let’s take a look at some common questions about lawn watering.
Do You Need to Water Your Lawn Every Day?
No, you don’t need to water your lawn daily. In most seasons, you don’t even need to water every other day. It’s better to water 2 – 3 times per week. Your area may have conservation ordinances that will limit the frequency, as well.1
If you water your lawn daily, your grass will have shallow roots and won’t be so healthy. So you should avoid a lawn watering routine that has you watering the lawn daily.
Your lawn can go as much as a week without water, so at some times of the year watering just once a week is enough.
How Much Water Does Your Lawn Need?
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Most lawns need 1 – 1.5 inches of water per week, though you may want to give as much as 2 inches. (If you’ve had that much rain, you don’t need to water, of course.)
To figure out how long to have your sprinklers on for, place 5 – 10 straight-sided containers on your lawn. Run the sprinklers for 15 minutes, then measure the depth of water in each container using a ruler.
Take an average of the measurements, multiply by 4, and you’ll know how much water your sprinklers are putting out per hour.
It’s important to avoid over-watering your lawn, as this can cause excessive growth—meaning you’ll need to mow more often than you otherwise would. It’s also wasteful. You may even consider collecting water from the rain in order to water the yard at a later date, too.2
How Often Should You Water Your Lawn in Summer?
In the summer, you’ll likely want to water your lawn every other day. It’s generally best to give your lawn about 1/3rd of an inch of water every other day.
Avoid watering your lawn daily, even in summer. Otherwise, the grass will have shallow roots and will be more susceptible to drought.
How Often Should You Water Your Lawn in Winter?
In the winter, you don’t need to water your lawn so much as in summer—but it’s still important to keep giving it some water. Even if your grass looks fine without water, the roots might be drying up.
Around half an inch of water per week is enough in winter. If possible, try to water before a cold snap comes—this helps to strengthen and protect your grass against the frost.
When During the Day Should You Water Your Lawn?
It’s best to water your lawn in the early morning—before 10 am at the latest, and ideally between 4 am – 9 am. This gives time for the water to soak in before the day gets hot. If you water during the middle of the day, the water will evaporate quickly—meaning it’s less likely to reach the roots of your grass.
Avoid watering your lawn at night time, because this can encourage the growth of fungus.
Getting Into a Lawn-Watering Routine
Do you find yourself forgetting to water your lawn? If you have sprinklers that you can set to automatically run at specific times, then that’s a good way to make sure you don’t miss a watering.
But what if you need to put your sprinklers on manually? You might remind yourself by watering your lawn at the same time as doing other jobs around your garden. When you get out your gas hedge trimmer to tidy up the hedge, for instance, you could turn on the sprinkler system.
How Do You Water Your Lawn Without a Sprinkler System?
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Sprinklers systems have a high operating cost, and you may not want to install one. You might have a smallish lawn and a sprinkler system seems unnecessary. Or perhaps you live in a country like the UK, where there’s enough rain at many points in the year that you don’t need to water your lawn that much of the time.
One of the easiest ways to water a lawn without a sprinkler system is to use a garden hose. You’ll want to direct the water as close to the lawn as possible and use a sprinkler attachment to spread the water well.
As with a sprinkler system, you should measure how much water you’re putting out across a given area in 15 minutes, so you know how long it takes to give your grass the optimal amount of water.
How Can You Tell if Your Lawn Has Had Enough Water?
Simply making sure your sprinklers are on for long enough to deliver around 1.5 inches of water to your lawn is enough.
A simple way to check whether your lawn is getting enough water is to stick a dinner knife into the soil beneath your grass. If it slides in easily, then the grass likely has enough water. But if the ground is hard and dry, you probably need to increase the amount of water you’re giving—or how often you’re watering.
Watering your lawn is one of those simple, routine tasks that can make all the difference to how your yard looks. You don’t need to spend a lot of time or effort watering your lawn: a simple sprinkler system that you run 2 – 3 times a week is likely to be plenty.
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- Hogue TS, Pincetl S. WATER CONSERVATION. Are you watering your lawn?. Science. 2015;348(6241):1319-1320. doi:10.1126/science.aaa6909
- Survis FD, Root TL. The rain-watered lawn: Informing effective lawn watering behavior. J Environ Manage. 2017;199:109-115. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.04.081