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When to Start Watering Your Lawn? Facts, Methods & FAQ

Ways to Get Rid of Weeds in Your Lawn

The best time to start watering your lawn is in early summer as soon as the rainfall drops to less than 4 inches per month. If you are not a good friend of the meteorological department, wilting and browning grass near driveways and walkways indicates the soil is dry. In that case, turn on your sprinkler system early in the morning, between 5 and 8 am.

Continue reading to understand more about when and how to water the lawn.

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How Much Water Does a Lawn Need?

Most lawns require little over an inch of water per week to moisten the soil to a recommended depth of 6 to 8 inches. You can achieve this in one or two weekly watering sessions.

But how can you tell if you have watered the lawn to the recommended inches?

The simplest method is to place several small tuna cans around the watering area before turning on sprinklers. Then, let the pump run and time how long it takes to fill the can to the 1 or 1.5-inch mark.

Depending on your sprinkler system, getting to this mark can take between 15 and 30 minutes. This means you should water your lawn for 30 minutes once a week or 15 minutes twice a week.

Specialists recommend watering deeply and less frequently to encourage the roots to grow deeper.

Here are more tips to consider:

Grass Species

Some grasses, such as Creeping Bentgrass and Red fescue, have shallow roots and require frequent watering. Other types of lawn grass, like Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass, have deep roots and can withstand long periods of dry weather. Watering once a week will keep them in good health.

Sprinkler Flow Rate

Sprinkler flow rate is the amount of water delivered to plants in gallons per minute. A sprinkler with a high flow rate saturates the soil within a very short time frame. A lower flow rate means the sprinkler delivers less water to the roots and requires the system to run for very long to moisten the soil.

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


If your lawn is on a slope, water loss to surface runoffs is common. To prevent this, you will need to use a sprinkler with a slow flow rate and water the lawn for hours and frequently. A sprinkler with a slow flow rate is preferred because it delivers small droplets that will be quickly absorbed in the soil before forming a torrent.

Time of Day

Morning is the best time to water the lawn because the air is calm and cooler. Lower temperature and gentle wind reduce evaporation, so more water will seep into the ground.

Soil Type

Sandy soils, which are mostly found in the central part of the US, have large particles and don’t hold water well. As a result, you will need to water your lawn more frequently. Well-parked and poorly aerated clay soil common in Georgia holds water better. You will thus need to water less frequently.

Why Is It a Bad Idea to Water a Lawn in the Midday Heat?

Gardening has secret myths you have probably heard of and debunked if not swayed into believing. One is that midday watering will burn your grass because water droplets form convex lenses that concentrate heat on a specific spot. While it’s true that water can act like a magnifying glass, the droplets evaporate too fast to even come close to scorching grass.

The only logical explanation why you shouldn’t water during the day is that the sun will evaporate the water quickly. This happens fast, even before moisture seeps into the ground, leaving better parts of the root in dry soil.

Also, because the ground is hard and hot, introducing cold water will lead to sudden cracks and may harm roots.

Vinyl fence in backyard with grass
Image Credit: Photoman, Pixabay

Can I Water My Lawn in the Evening After Sunset?

While watering the lawn in the evening prevents evaporation, it may do more harm than good. Watering late in the evening will keep your lawn wet throughout the night. According to a Mississippi State University publication, wet foliage causes bacterial and fungal diseases, which you can detect by the telltale signs of yellow, stunted, or wilted foliage.

Secondly, watering your lawn too late in the evening will attract pests. Snails, slugs, and other critters are more active at night and love damp conditions. These pests feast on grass, slowing the growth rate and creating entry points for pathogens.

If you have to water your lawn in the evening, do it early enough when the weather is still warm, probably before 5 pm. This will allow the soil to absorb most of the water and reduce the risk of disease and pests. With no stagnating water around stems and leaves, there is little risk of grass rot.

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What Are Some of the Methods You Can Use to Irrigate a Lawn?

There are several methods you can use to irrigate a lawn:

Hand Irrigation

This method involves using a hose to deliver water to the lawn. Hand irrigation is best for small yards or if you need to apply water to specific flowers and plants. The biggest disadvantage of hand irrigation is that it’s time-consuming and not efficient on a large lawn.


Different types of sprinklers are handy if you need to water hard-to-reach areas. However, the system wastes water and is inefficient. Furthermore, indiscriminate watering may result in the emergence of competitive weeds.

Drip Irrigation

This type of irrigation uses tubes with small holes, called emitters, to deliver water directly to the roots. It is very efficient because there is little evaporation and runoff. Drip irrigation is, however, expensive because the upfront installation and maintenance costs are high.

Image Credit: midascode, Pixabay

Build-In Irrigation System

An in-ground irrigation system is a permanent solution you install beneath your lawn. It includes a series of pipes, valves, and heads that are connected to a water source. The heads pop up out of the ground and deliver water to the roots.

Automatic timers will control flow rate, thus requiring little human intervention. On the flip side, it’s expensive to install and maintain a built-in irrigation system.

garden flower divider Final Thoughts

Start watering the lawn as soon as the rainfall drops to less than an inch per week or you spot signs of wilting near the pavement. If you are heading to a dry month, water the grass at least once weekly using sprinklers. This should be before sunrise, and to get the best result, avoid watering plants during the day or in the evening.

Featured Image Credit: Clayton800, pixabay


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