One of the biggest questions most lawn owners ask is, “How long should I water my grass?”
There is no clear-cut answer to this great question. Much will depend on your local weather and the type of soil and grass in your lawn. There are, however, some guidelines you can follow to ensure your yard is getting the right amount of water:
Water your lawn infrequently, but more deeply
Most people will water their lawn daily, thinking that it’s what a plant needs. But this is not only damaging – it can also be a big waste.
Soil needs more time to absorb water. Watering every day will not give that water enough time to seep down into the ground. The result is that your plants will not grow their roots deep enough for optimal growth. Any excess water not absorbed by the soil will also flow into the drain — it will go to waste.
The better approach is not watering frequently, but deeply. You do this with a rain/soak pattern. Instead of doing one 3 hour session, for example, you split it into two 1.5 hour schedules with an hour interval in the middle. This rest allows your soil ample time to absorb the moisture, thus leading deep watering.
That being said, watering your lawn 2-3 times a week is a good frequency to start. If you notice that your lawn still looks dull or brown, lengthen each watering session. Also, if you see the water is already spilling into the sidewalk, stop! You’re just wasting water.
Figure out the right amount of water to use
As we covered in Tip #1, it’s best to make sure the water reaches deep enough into your soil for it to be effective. We generally recommend this depth to be around 8” from the surface. But the problem is not all soil is made of the same substances. Some soils are more absorbent than others.
So the question is: how much do I need to water to achieve this?
The general recommendation is to water your lawn with at least 1” worth of water per week. You can easily measure this with a tuna can or any container that’s an inch tall. Set it down in your lawn where the sprinklers reaches it, and then turn the sprinkler on for 30 minutes. Measure the water collected. You can now figure out how many 30 minute sessions you need to reach 1” worth of water.
And, as a further test, try sticking a 6” screwdriver or garden spade into your lawn. How deep has the moisture reached? If you can’t quickly drive these tools into the ground, it means you’re not watering your lawn enough. Adjust as needed.
Water your lawn as early as you possible
The best time of day to water grass is in the morning. This is true for two reasons.
One, it’s cooler in the morning. This means less evaporation. If you water in the middle of the day, some of it will be lost to heat. Not only is this a big waste, but your plants are not getting the right amount of water anymore.
Two, grass needs to stay dry before nightfall. This is because moisture at night can lead to diseases and fungal problems for your plants. By watering in the morning, you allow excess moisture to evaporate come night time.
But please, don’t make this an excuse not to water the lawn. Watering your lawn in the afternoon is still better than not doing it at all!
Compensate for the weather and temperature
In general, you need to water your lawn more in the summer than in the winter months. Warmer temperatures higher than 100F allow for more evaporation, so you need to compensate for this. Strong winds and humidity will also compound this problem.
This is probably the only time that daily watering in addition to your watering schedule is a good idea. That extra water can effectively cool off the grass. But be sure to do this very lightly, just enough to add moisture to your lawn. Even in summer, overwatering is possible if you’re not careful.
Also, you need to compensate for any rainfall. Not doing so can lead to overwatering as well. Use a rain sensor or rain gauge to get an idea about the amount of rain you’re getting on average in a given period.