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Can You Overwater Grass? Signs, Facts & FAQ

garden with mown lawn

Maintaining a lush green lawn is easy; turn on the sprinklers every other day, add fertilizer in fall and give your turf a manicure whenever necessary, right?

Not quite. One of the common causes of grass problems is overwatering. Overwatering makes the soil vulnerable to becoming waterlogged. Grass roots in soggy soil cannot absorb oxygen, making them suffocate, rot and die.

garden flower divider

What Overwatering Does to Your Grass

Your grass needs both oxygen and water to thrive. The soil consists of particles surrounded by air pockets that ensure the plant does not suffocate. Overwatering grass fills these air pockets with water, making the roots rot and the turf wither.

The longer your turf cannot access oxygen, the greater the root damage it will suffer. Damaged roots cannot absorb water and nutrients, and you may begin seeing bare spots or yellowing of the leaves.

Moreover, overwatering can cause stunted growth. Your turf needs a little push to grow a deep and intricate root system in search of water. If the water is always readily available, the grass will only develop a shallow root system and remain highly vulnerable to disease and drought.

The 5 Telltale Signs You Are Overwatering Your Grass

The yearning to see the grass greener on your side of the fence can make you a little too passionate when watering your lawn. Unfortunately, incorrect watering practices can cause dying patches of grass, especially in areas with slight depressions.

Here are some of the most common signs of overwatered grass.

pop-up sprinkler watering the grass
Image By: Toa55, Shutterstock

1. Wilted Grass

Did you know that too much water causes almost identical symptoms as underwatered grass?

As contradictory as it may sound, grass is more likely to die from overwatering than underwatering! The plant cannot effectively absorb water and nutrients from waterlogged soil. If you notice that your turf is beginning to wilt or die, you are possibly being over-generous with water.

2. Runoff

An oversaturated area will have streams of water running down the sidewalks. This indicates that the soil has so much water that it cannot absorb more. As harmless as runoff water may seem, don’t forget that it can wash out the nutrients in the soil and cause more turf problems.

3. Squishy Lawn

If you step on your lawn and it feels squishy, overly soft, or spongy after watering, you should probably dial back on your watering routines. The squishiness implies that the grass lacks a deep and healthy root system. Dialing back allows the roots to go deep in search of water and grow strong enough to cope with turf diseases and environmental stress.

Watering Lawn
Image Credit: creative2usa, Pixabay

4. Weed, Pest, and Fungi Invasion

Soggy grounds may not be ideal for growing turf. However, they make perfect breeding grounds for fungi that can further impact the overall health of your grass. Once leaves begin wilting and the lawn develops a layer of decomposed material, it will not be long before you start dealing with a bug problem.

Also, you have reason to suspect overwatering if you begin seeing too many weeds. Again, the conditions may not be perfect for your grass but are ideal for weeds like yellow nutsedge, mushrooms, and smooth crabgrass.

5. Excessive Thatching

It is common for grass to produce small amounts of thatch as they grow. Organisms in the soil quickly break down the thatch and enrich the ground with nutrients. Excessive thatch may imply that there’s too much water on the ground, and the organisms cannot do their job. Thatch buildup can hinder proper aeration of the soil, causing your grass to die.

garden flower divider How to Water Your Lawn Properly

The correct way to water your lawn will depend on various factors, including your type of grass and the season. If your grass is so far looking healthy, it is perfectly okay to continue with your current watering routine. If it’s not, you might need to change how you water it. Here are some considerations to remember:


The recommended time to water your grass is in the morning to avoid wasteful evaporation. It is best to avoid watering in the evening because some droplets may remain on the leaves overnight and cause infections.

Watering Lawn with hose
Image Credit: 3345557, Pixabay

Watering Duration

Your grass needs 1 to 2 inches of water weekly. Sprinklers differ in the amount of water they eject, making it crucial to check the instructions on the product you have to determine how much water your grass will receive within a specified duration. On average, it takes half an hour for a sprinkler to pour a half-inch of water. This means you should water your grass for about 20 minutes three times a week.


You don’t need to water your grass daily. As aforementioned, easy access to water will discourage your grass from growing a robust, deep, firm root system. On average, your lawn should be watered thrice weekly during the warm months. You can dial down to watering once or twice weekly during the cooler months.

garden flower divider FAQ

Maintaining green, healthy grass is easier said than done. It is common to have a lot of uncertainties about the best practices to uphold. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions. Hopefully, the additional information will help address some common turf-watering misunderstandings.

Do I Need To Water My Grass in Winter?

Cool-season grasses like bluegrass and rye don’t go dormant entirely during the winter. Also, warm-season grasses need adequate moisture to thrive even when it begins to snow. As long as your grass is vigorously growing and you are still mowing, it would be best if you watered it in moderate amounts.

During the warm months, your grass needs 1 to 2 inches of water weekly. It only needs about half an inch of water during winter because not much moisture is lost through evaporation.

Northern Red Oak_Maren Winter_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Maren Winter, Shutterstock

Is It Better to Water My Lawn by Hand or Using a Sprinkler?

The ideal way to water your grass is through slow, soaking rain. Sprinklers mimic rain showers, making them better for the job. Watering by hand increases the risk of overwatering your grass because you must guess whether the ground has soaked enough. Sprinklers make the work more manageable because you can set a timer based on the amount of water ejected per minute.

Should I Water My Lawn Based on the Season?

Watering your lawn should be based on the amount of moisture present in the soil. For instance, you should increase watering in spring if it’s hotter and windier. The reason being the soil dries up faster.

garden flower divider Final Thoughts

Overwatering your grass can do more harm than good. From stunted growth and bare spots to leaf burn and water blisters (Oedema) on the stems, the amount of damage too much water can do to your grass is endless. So be careful when watering your lawn as it may be doing more harm than good.

Featured Image Credit: 1000 Words, Shutterstock


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