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How Long to Water Grass

Updated: July 12, 2022
watering grass in hot temperatures

If you’re wondering how long to water grass, the answer is that it depends on a few factors. Read on for an in-depth guide for watering your lawn.

Lawn care for your healthy lawn depends on a variety of factors.

How Long Should you Water the Lawn?

The amount of time you should water your lawn depends on a few factors. The type of grass you have (warm-season grasses vs cool-season grasses), the time of year, and where you live are all important factors to consider when deciding how long to water your grass.

In general, you should water your lawn long enough so that the roots have a chance to absorb moisture. No matter what your lawn looks like, be sure to water it in the early morning before the day’s heat sets in. This way, the water won’t evaporate as soon as it hits the grass.

Despite all the varying factors for watering your lawn, the best time to water your lawn always remains the same. Never water your lawn during the severe heat of the day during the summer. Despite the common belief that lawn watering during the heat of the day prevents grass from being “burnt”, watering your lawn during the day’s heat prevents the grass’ roots from ever absorbing moisture because nearly half of the water evaporates on contact with grass blades.

Grass blades depend on grass type. It can be difficult to determine how often to water.

Type of Grass

Nurturing your lawn takes time and devotion. But how much water does your grass really need? The grass type you have (warm-season vs. cool-season grasses) will play a role in how often you need to water as well as how long each session should last.

If you have cool-season grasses with a shallow root system, you should water the grass lightly and frequently, adding up to 1/2 inch of water per week. Aim to water cool-season grasses about three times a week for 30 minutes each time.

Cool-season grasses:

  • Fescue
  • Ryegrass
  • Kentucky Blue

Warm-season lawns need less frequent, deep waterings that add up to 1 inch of water per week. Aim to water warm-season grasses about two times a week for about an hour each time.

Warm-season grasses:

  • Bermuda
  • St. Augustine
  • Zoysia
  • Centipede

New Lawns

If you have a new lawn, or if you are seeding your lawn, you will need to water it more frequently than an established lawn. Grass seed needs to be watered daily, or even multiple times a day, in order to stay alive and grow. Try watering it for about 30 minutes a day. Once your new grass has established root systems, you can back off on the watering.

Time of Year

Lawn care needs may vary depending on the time of year as well. For example, as weather conditions change during winter, your lawn may need to be watered less or not at all if you live in an area where it snows during the winter. Watering grass may be even more important during the summer when the heat sets in.

You may need to allow your cool-season grasses to dry up during the summer so they can come back during the fall.

Where you Live

Lawn care will vary widely depending on your geographic region. Generally, you should water your lawn based on whether you have a cool-season or warm-season lawn. You can find this out by looking up the type of grass that is typically grown in your area.

What About your Sprinkler System?

If you have a sprinkler system for your lawn, you should be very careful about the time of day it goes off, whether your sprinkler heads are leaking water, and how long the system is watering for. Time your system to make sure that it doesn’t flood the curb within the amount of time that it’s watering. If it is, set your system to water for a shorter period of time.

Ground sprinklers can often waste water.

How Long to Water Grass During Severe Heat?

It can be very difficult to determine how long you should be watering your lawn during severe heat. In general, aim to water your lawn as mentioned above. Still, you should check up on your watering infrastructure to make sure that there are no leaks.

You should consider stopping lawn watering in the summer months in order to conserve water for your community. Though your lawn will go dormant, the green will come back when water comes back.

How Long Should you Water the Lawn During a Drought?

If water restrictions are in place in your area, make sure to follow them. Water restrictions may cut back your lawn watering to once a week or less.

While you may want to maintain a green lawn year-round, it may be necessary to stop watering your lawn entirely during a drought. Grass can go dormant when it experiences a period of severe aridity. When the water comes back, it will green up again.

As periods of drought become more and more common due to climate change, you may need to be more acquainted with how long to water your lawn during a drought.

Grass Alternatives

Instead of having a water-heavy grass lawn, consider installing a landscape with rock and sand cover and local, drought-tolerant vegetation. This way, you can have the most beautiful lawn in your neighborhood without the hassle and water-use of a sprinkler system.

A drought-tolerant landscape.

Conclusion

Lawn needs vary depending on the varying grass types, the time of year, and the geographic region. Aim to water your lawn in the early morning with about an inch of water per week. If you live in an area in which aridification due to climate change will be permanent, consider swapping your grassy lawn for a beautiful landscape with rock, sand, and natural, drought-tolerant vegetation.

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