How Much to Water Grass?

  • Proper watering is crucial for your lawn and its growth. Providing accurate moisture to your lawns is as essential as the quality of soil and grass seeds used.
  • How often to water your lawn, and what time of day is the best to do it? How do you know you should use less water for your grasses on average or moisture the soil less deeply? Discover our tips to learn how to have a healthy lawn, green independently of the season. 
  • In the article below, we’re tackling how to recognize that your grasses need water, the best time to water with sprinklers, what the rain gauge and turf are, what it means that lawn go dormant, and how to overcome obstacles such as heat or drought.

Watering your lawn isn’t the most complicated thing to do. 

Yet, you need some theoretical preparation to perfect your watering sessions with a sprinkler or otherwise. 

Lawn watering: Introduction

Questions that arise in keeping a green and healthy lawn (i.e., one that has enough water) are, among others:

  • What is the average amount of water that your lawn needs? (How often should you water your lawn per week? What time of the day is the best time to water grass?)
  • How do you know that your soil and grass need water? 
  • How does the situation change from season to season (winter, a warm season and the summer heat, etc.) and rain? What about season grasses?

There is a lot to discover to provide your lawn with the best flow. 

We’re tackling the complex issue of lawn watering in the article below, bringing the best tips about watering.

Is your lawn happy? Signs of drought and moisture

For starters, let’s see if your grass is already getting the water that it needs. 

Otherwise, if water is not enough, you’ll need to rethink your irrigation system. 

Don’t worry; we’re here to help with everything that concerns the wellbeing of your house and garden. Check these helpful tips by House Rituals!

There are at least six ways to check if lawns show signs of not being at their best when it comes to moisture. 

Have a look at them below:

Can test 

How to use homemade tools to measure your lawn needs?

To do this, throughout the lawn, you need to place multiple: 

  • water gauges, or 
  • tuna or cat food cans (tuna cans and cat food cans are 1 inch high); 

Then, run your sprinkler or irrigation system for 15 minutes.

After that, measure the water in the catch basins (empty tuna cans, etc., that you put there before).

You can also do the same process on the contrary:

Place cans and measure the time needed to collect 1 to 1.5 inches of water in each can. 

Consider that sprinkler coverage patterns vary throughout lawns, so use the average time of all the cans.

Whichever measuring method you’ll go for, this process will help you determine how long you need to run your sprinklers or irrigation system to ensure your lawn is getting the right amount of water.

Rain gauges

Remember that sometimes the smartest thing to do is rely on Mother Nature.

It’s an open secret that the rain can help you reduce your water bill.

Use a rain gauge to measure how much rain your lawn is getting. 

Do you get an inch per week?

Then, you probably don’t have to run your sprinklers that week, and your grass roots will be just fine.

Sensors

Have you researched the novel irrigation system ideas?

The thing is that some of them have built-in sensors. 

They keep track of how much water your lawn has already received and will need.

We base measurements on:

  • recent rainfall, 
  • temperature, and 
  • soil type;

Check the soil

Another good idea is to start from the roots. 

See how long it takes to soak the soil. 

At the time of watering, check your lawn soil every 15 minutes.

How to do it exactly?

Use a screwdriver to test how deep the water has moved. 

Mark the time once the soil has soaked to a depth of at least 6 inches.

That’s how long you need to water your lawn each time in the future. 

Important: If you can’t easily stick that screwdriver 6 inches deep into the soil, you need to water.

Do the math

If you have a sprinkler system, all you have to do is do some basic counting. 

The watering flow rate will be available from the manufacturer. 

Now, let’s tackle the math to do in the most straightforward words:

1. Multiply the square footage of your lawn by 0.62 gallons (which is equal to 1 inch of water per square foot).

2. Divide by the sprinkler flow rate.

3. The result is the number of minutes to run your sprinkler system.

Use a flow timer (or water timer)

If, for some reason, you don’t have the manufacturer’s information, take a timer that measures water flow in hundreds of gallons.

Multiply your lawn’s square footage by 0.62 gallons to assess the total number of gallons needed for the entire lawn.

If you notice that your lawn isn’t absorbing water quickly (you find puddlings around), consider watering in shorter cycles.

Water the lawn still for the required time but with pauses—10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on, and so on.

How much water to use?

As we’ve discovered above, it depends on many factors, so it’s hard to give one universal answer.

Yet, it’s worth knowing the average amount of water that lawns require to become green and healthy. 

Ordinary seed

A rule of thumb is to water it 1-2 times a week.

Apply a total of 1 inch of water each week (based on your location and time of year). 

Tip: Watering 1- 2 times per week is more beneficial than light watering several times a week. It’s because light watering promotes shallow roots (plants become less tolerant to drought).  

A newly seeded lawn

Here, the key is to keep the top inch of soil moist consistently.

However, the soil shouldn’t become soggy. 

Our experience says that you will have to mist the seeded area every day, once or twice.

Tip: If it’s hot and dry outside, consider watering your lawn to be even more often. 

When the seeds start to germinate, continue to keep the top 2 inches of soil moist until the new grass reaches a mowing height of around 3 inches. 

Then, come back to watering twice per week and soak the soil deeply (about 6 to 8 inches). 

It will encourage the grass roots to grow down deep into the soil.

The first year of lawn’s growth

Whether it’s:

  • a newly seeded, 
  • sodded, 
  • sprigged, or 
  • plugged lawn,

always provide your lawn with watering with the help of additional irrigation. 

Keep in mind that Mother Nature is never enough at this stage.

An established lawn

What about an established lawn? What are your grass needs at this stage of its development?

We recommend keeping watering until the top 6 to 8 inches of soil is wet. 

It’s where most turf grass roots grow.

Again, how to put this theory into practice?

Most lawns need 1 to 2 inches of water per week to soak the soil that deeply. 

This amount can either be applied during a single watering or divided into two waterings per week. 

Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if this water comes from the rain or sprinkles watering. 

So do your math or pick another method to assess the moisture of your soil. 

Pennington Smart Seed

These are the grasses explicitly bred to be drought tolerant. 

The Smart Seed requires even 30% less water compared to ordinary grass seed.

Watering the lawn: handy tips

What else about watering and lawns is handy to know?

Lawns are resilient

Consider that established lawns can survive weeks without water by going dormant (you’ll notice it happened when the lawn turns brown). Then, once the rain returns, they come back to being green. 

The lawn has a grayish or dull green cast 

It means that you need to water your lawn because it needs it.

Walking on the grasses

You can check your lawn by walking on it.

If your footprints don’t disappear quickly, it’s because the grass blades don’t have the needed moisture and can’t naturally spring back. 

It also means that you need to water the lawn as quickly as possible. 

If the grass pops right back up, it already has plenty of water.

Curled blades

Look at the grass. 

If the grass blades are curled, it’s water-stressed.

In other words, it’s time to water.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Unfortunately, yes. You can exaggerate and harm your grass if you put too much time to water or use too much water, exceeding what lawns need. When your grass gets too much water, it isn't able to get oxygen and suffocates. Over-watering also makes your grass more susceptible to diseases.
Timing is crucial for the best watering. You can water everywhere from the early morning (4 a.m.) to 10 a.m . At 10 in the morning, it’s cool, and the wind is calm, so water can soak and be absorbed before it evaporates. Consider that midday watering leads to wasteful evaporation. If you choose to water in the evening, do it between 4 and 6 p.m. This hour will give the grass blades time to dry before nightfall. Nighttime watering may cause droplets to cling to the grass overnight, and this, in turn, leads to lawn diseases.
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