How Long Should You Water Your Lawn?

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Nothing decorates your home’s exterior quite like a thriving lawn. So knowing what things to do to get your lawn to flourish year round is key. We’ve compiled a list of some of the questions about lawn watering. With the right lawn watering tips and techniques, you can be on your way to an even healthier lawn.

How Long Should I Run My Sprinklers when I Water the Lawn?

A sprinkler system is the best way to water a lawn. Not only does it replace the time-consuming practice of watering your lawn with the hose, but it ensures that every area of your lawn receives water evenly. It can be tricky to know just how long your sprinklers should run for each watering session. If you underwater your lawn by having your sprinklers on for too short of a period, the grass will begin to wilt and turn brown.

Sprinklers Watering the Lawn

On the other hand, overwatering the lawn by letting the sprinklers run for too long will make the ground soggy and create too much thatch. The damp soil will also attract pests and create an environment where fungi can grow. Therefore, knowing just the right amount of time to keep your sprinklers on ensures optimal health for your lawn.

Ideally, you want to leave enough time in between watering sessions for the top layer of soil to dry out. The lack of moisture will force the fungi and new weeds to die. This will also promote deeper roots since your grass will need to spread its roots deeper into the soil to get water.

We recommend that you water your grass once a week, and the best time to water grass is early in the morning. Watering in the afternoon is not ideal because you will lose a large amount of your water to evaporation; and in the evening, the lack of sunlight will cause the lawn to retain water overnight until the sun comes back up again and dries the lawn. Excess moisture will encourage the growth of fungi.

Determine Your Lawns Watering Needs

One of the first things that you need to understand about your lawn is that it has specific needs when it comes to the amount of water it needs. There is a simple method you can use to find this out. Each week, most lawns need about 1 1/2 inches of water, but there are some things to keep in mind. The type of turf grass you have i.e. cool season or warm season and the time of year are two huge factors in determining how much water your lawn needs.

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Overall, cool season grass requires more watering than warm season grass. In addition, the amount of water needed is greater during the active season, which is spring and fall for cool season grass and mid-late Spring until early fall for the warm season grass. Seasons that fall outside this are considered dormant seasons. During this time, you should water your grass less. It’s important to know the type of grass you have so that you can water it appropriately. Some grasses require a whole inch less of water weekly in the dormant season then in the active season, while others need just a quarter of an inch less.

Figure the Output of Your Sprinklers

Once you know how much watering your grass needs, determining just how much water comes out of your sprinkler system is the next thing you need to figure out to know how long you should keep your sprinklers on. To do this, put four or five containers in an area covered by the sprinklers and turn it on for 20 minutes. Then measure the water in each container in inches using a ruler and determine the average. Then multiply the depth of water by 3 (20 minutes multiplied by 3 will give you how many inches of water is dispensed by your sprinkler system each hour).

Calculate how Long to Water the Lawn with Your Sprinklers Each Session

Now that you know how much water the type of grass you have needs each season, and you know the water output of your sprinklers, you now need to know how long you need to keep your sprinklers on each watering session. To find this, take the amount of water your lawn needs each week in inches and divide that by your sprinkler’s water output each hour. For example, if your lawn needs an inch of water each week and your sprinkler water output is 1 1/2 inches per hour, your sprinklers will need to be on for approximately 40 minutes each week. Knowing how often to water a lawn to ensure it receives the right amount of water is critical.

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Another thing to consider is the type of soil on your lawn. Clay and loamy soil retain water for a long time, however, take a while to absorb it. Therefore, lawns with these types of soil should be watered 1 to 3 times each week. Sandy soil absorbs water quicker but does not retain it for very long, so you may need to water your lawn 2 to 4 times each week if you have this type of soil.

To find out how long your sprinkles need to run during each watering session, simply divide the weekly sprinkler time by the number of times you water your lawn each week. For example, if your lawn needs 40 minutes of water each week and you plan to water it twice a week, run your sprinklers for 20 minutes each session. Keep in mind that you should have a few days in between your watering sessions to allow the grass roots to absorb water and breathe.

If it rains, you will need to make adjustments to the amount of water you give your lawn. Since rainfall reduces the need for watering, find out how much rain has fallen using a rain gauge and deduct that amount from the number of inches your lawn requires each week. This will give you your new weekly watering needs.

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During Hot Periods

You will need to increase your watering frequency during hot periods because a significant amount of water will evaporate into the air. This may mean adding an additional watering session if need be. Ultimately, your lawn will let you know how much water it needs. Do you want the soil to have enough water but not to be too damp where it attracts fungi or pests.

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Raise Your Mower Height

During the hot months, setting your mower blade a little higher than its normal setting is an advantage and will result in an improvement in the health of your lawn. When the grass is cut higher, it allows the grass to create a thicker canopy that provides shade to the soil and shields the growing points of the grass from the sun. This slight alteration can create a world of difference for your lawn.

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Watering Near Trees

Trees absorb a significant amount of water daily and can strip the soil of moisture by drawing it down towards their roots. As a result, the surrounding vegetation often suffers during periods of drought. This is why it is critical to water the grass around large trees more to ensure it is getting enough water.