Above ground sprinkler watering grass and bush

How to Water your Lawn

Being in the irrigation business for over 15 years, I’ve seen a ton of people watering their lawns all wrong. They see brown grass and think


“Hey, my grass looks dry, I’m going to add more water.”


But adding more water to your lawn isn’t going to help in most cases. Too much water can actually lead to drying out your grass, leaving it looking thin and limp.


I’ll show you how to get a lush thick turf that feels as good as it looks. Let’s get into the basics.


How much water does grass need?

There are many different types of grass but for most types of grass, the range is very similar. 1 – 1.5 inches of water per week will cover almost all grass types.


This includes water from rain. If it rains during the week you will want to remove a water cycle or sometimes not water at all. 


If you have an automatic lawn sprinkler system, we recommend installing a rain sensor that will automatically shut off the sprinklers if it rains. This will prevent overwatering. 

How long to water your lawn

This will depend on how much water your sprinkler heads put out. The easiest way to figure this out is with empty tuna cans


Place a few cans throughout the area that you are watering. You don’t need to overthink the placement. Just make sure they aren’t too close together and they are getting hit with water. 


Run the zone or manual sprinkler for 15 minutes then measure how much water is in the cans and take the average of all of the cans. Take that number and add it to itself until you get within that 1” to 1 ½” of water range.




If you get ⅛” in 15 minutes, you have ¼” in 30 minutes, ⅜” in 45 minutes½” in 60 minutes etc.

If you get ¼” in 15 minutes, you have ½” in 30 minutes¾” in 45 minutes1” in 60 minutes etc.


How many days a week to water your lawn

If you want to get your lawn to look healthy even in harsh conditions, like a hot summer, grass needs strong and deep roots. 


To do this you need deep watering cycles. This is when you water a lot in a few cycles. We recommend 1 to 2 times per week. (so ½” to 1” of water per cycle)

This will get the water deeper into the soil and roots love to follow water. 


If you water your lawn every day or even every other day, the roots will grow upwards, causing them to burn if the weather gets too hot in the summer. 


Watering too often, along with watering at the wrong time of day, can prevent roots from getting oxygen and cause lawn diseases.


Best time of day to water your lawn

The quick answer is: in the morning. Around 4am to 10am is the standard.


If you water in the middle of the day, a lot of the water will evaporate and not reach down to the roots. At night, the water on the top will not evaporate creating conditions that are perfect for disease.


The morning is cool enough to let the water penetrate the soil and as the day progresses, the heat will evaporate the water on the surface. 


How much to water new grass?

New grass needs a lot more attention and a lot more water. There are 2 types of NEW grass: seed and sod


Both types need cooler temperatures to promote growth or seed germination. Soil temperatures between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for most. This correlates to daytime temperatures around 60 – 75 degrees. 


Before laying sod or laying seed, the soil needs to be moist so a pre water session a day before is necessary. The soil below the sod needs to be wet for the first 3 weeks so the roots can take hold.


About 30 minutes after laying the sod/seed, an initial ½” of water. This will be half of the time you calculated above for your weekly water amount.


After that, it is recommended ½” per day broken into 3 water cycles throughout the day. It will be about 10-15 minutes per cycle. Do this for 3 weeks. Then cut back to the normal 1-2 days a week.


How much to water grass in the summer?

The summer is hot. And the correct way to have a healthy lawn is to have prepared the grass during the spring by watering deep to get healthy deep roots.

The answer is actually pretty simple: water the same amount as normal. The grass roots still only need 1” to 1 ½” of water a week. The tough part is grass growth stops in warmer weather and more evaporation can occur


So you may want to go towards the upper part of that range. If you are watering your lawn twice a week at ½” per day, just add an extra day to get to the 1 ½” of water per week.


If you haven’t watered your lawn correctly in the spring or the temperatures are getting really hot, I suggest raising the blade on your lawn mower or asking your landscaper to. Having longer grass will help protect the roots from burning and the water evaporating.


But it’s always better to water your lawn the correct way in the spring to create a strong root system to help survive the harsh conditions. So when winter ends, make sure to set your sprinkler schedule to get your lawn the water it needs.