Best Time to Water the Lawn

As most homeowners will know, to keep your lawn looking its best throughout the seasons you’re going to have to water every now and then, as well as regularly mow and fertilise. Now this doesn’t sound too difficult, after all you’re just putting some water over it aren’t you?

Well actually there’s actually a little more to it than that.

It’s not as simple as keeping to a weekly schedule like mowing and just watering whenever suits you and not according to the lawns needs could, and most likely will, result in some serious problems.

Understanding things like the best time to water your lawn, how much water your lawn needs and the best practices for watering are super important if you want to keep your lawn properly hydrated.

Best Time to Water the Lawn The Best Time to Water the Lawn

Now unlike with mowing where you can happily mow at the same day and time every week without any trouble, with watering you can’t really stick to a schedule. This is because of the different factors that affect how quickly a lawn will dry up, like the soil type, grass type, sun exposure and wind, to name a few.

These factors could mean that one lawn in a neighbourhood needs watered once per week while another just round the corner needs done twice per week. So instead of you telling the lawn when it needs watered, you really need to wait for it to tell you.

To understand this, there are two methods you can use:

  • Change in lawn colour. If your lawn begins to go a little duller in colour in some areas then this is an indicator that it’s lacking moisture and needs watered.
  • The springiness test. If when you walk over the lawn, the grass doesn’t “spring” back up straight away and you’re left with some foot prints then this is a sign that it’s dehydrated.

Both work perfectly well, just pick the one you prefer using, or even both if you want to be completely sure and thorough.

Weekly Frequency

In most cases you’ll need to water every two or three days each week, and no more than twice, but this really depends on your soil type. For those with clay based soils you’ll be fine with watering just once every week and those with sand based soils are better watering every three days.

Again this really depends on the weather and the factors I discussed above. So if you’re having particularly dry conditions then you might have to do it a little sooner and if you’re having particularly wet conditions then maybe a little later. Just make sure you examine the lawn before watering and you’ll be good to go.

The Time of Day

Even though the exact days when you’ll need to water are open to change, the time at which you actually water on these days should be the same. Always water in the morning before the sun rises, this gives the lawn time to absorb all the water before drying out.

Ideally you want to be as early as possible but if you water anytime between 4 a.m. and the afternoon you should be fine, although if temperatures reach 24°C/75°F then turn off the sprinkler.

Just remember to avoid watering any later than the afternoon at all costs. Watering during the day will just result in the water evaporating too quickly and watering at night promotes fungus and disease as the water will just sit there on the grass. So save yourself all the hassle and stick to the morning.

How to Water Properly

To promote the roots to grow deeper into the soil, making them stronger and more resistant to disease, you want to water deeply and infrequently. If you water a little on a daily basis you will, just like watering at night, promote fungus and disease.

The amount of water your lawn needs really depends on your soil type. For those with clay based soils you’ll need to give it about half an inch of water each time and those with sand based soils you’ll need to give an inch of water each time.

To figure out how long your sprinkler needs to water for I recommend you use a rain gauge, these are pretty cheap and should be easily found at any gardening or lawn care store (failing that you can use a regular can and just mark off the measurements). When the sprinkler is watering, place the gauge in the middle of its spread and time how long it takes to reach the required measurement.

Watering Depth

To make sure the water is penetrating the soil deep enough, make sure you test this as well as above. To measure get yourself quite a long screwdriver so you can mark off 6 inches, this is how deep you want the water to penetrate as it’s the depth of a healthy root system. While the sprinkler is on, push the screwdriver into the soil as deep as it can go every 15 minutes and time how long it takes to reach the 6 inches.

Both of these times should give you a good idea of how long you need to water your lawn each time. As with all homeowners, it can take some time to use to your lawn and understanding its needs. So make sure you keep trying out different sprinkler settings and times until you feel you’ve satisfied both the amount of water output and water depth.

Some Extra Tips

Use a Pulsating Sprinkler with a Timer

This type of sprinkler shoots out water horizontally at a high velocity which makes sure it’s not as vulnerable to wind and evaporation as much as other models. The timer will also come in handy as it will shut off the water supply after a certain period of time, especially useful when you know your optimum watering time. Both of these make sure you don’t over use any water.

Let the Water Soak in on Hard Soil

If you’ve just experienced dry weather and your lawn has went dry, tough and hard because of it, then it’s best to water in stages. This softens the ground to make it easier for the water to reach the bottom of the roots. I recommend applying for 30 minutes, wait for it to soak in and then apply again for 30 minutes. If you apply just like normal then the water will just run right off.

Prep for Dry Weather

To help your lawn through tough periods of drought there are a few things you can do. Make sure you kill all the weeds and moss as they can take up valuable water, fertilise the lawn before dry weather and raise the cutting height to prevent max water loss. Treat the weeds and moss as they appear during this spell, especially the Clovers and Trefoils.

As soon as the water arrives again, wait a couple of days then cut the lawn using a high mower setting and fertilise it again to get it back up to speed.


If you found this post interesting then maybe you’d like to see some of my other content, like my robomower reviews? If so then head over to my Robot Lawn Mower Review Page, I’ve reviewed various models all designed for different purposes so if you’re in the market there won’t be a better place to go than here!

4 Comments on “Best Time to Water the Lawn”

  1. Thank you for posting this interesting article Mark. I have always been very careful about how I water my tomatoes, I have never paid much attention to my lawn.

    I have 2 questions. In this area we have a lot of lime stone structure very close to the surface. Sometimes only at a depth of a few inches. How would that affect how I might want to water?

    Next, I have 3 areas in my yard that apparently hold water much better than the rest of it. These areas stay greener longer and the grass grows thicker and faster than elsewhere. How would I deal with that in a watering plan?

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it Frank! The limestone shouldn’t make too much of a difference, the only reason you want the water to penetrate deeper than a few inches is to reach the very bottom of the roots to make them grow deeper and stronger. But seeing as yours won’t be able to grow any deeper than this because of the rock, I would just water to where the limestone structure begins. So you probably won’t have to water for as long as most other people but you should still use the screwdriver test to work out how long this will be.

      And in order to deal with your patches, I wouldn’t actually make any changes to your watering schedule at all, these are clearly in good growing conditions and you don’t want to do anything to tamper with that. Instead I would actually focus on the poorer areas, clearly something is wrong with them and you should put in some time to figure that out. If you want some help then check out a post I wrote on Lawn Repair, it takes you through a range of lawn problems and how you should go about fixing them.

      Hopefully these help and if you’ve got any more questions then please feel free to ask 😉

  2. I don’t live in the UK, but the information I am sure can be used pretty much anywhere. I often wondered how deep the water should soak in and I love the screwdriver test. This seems like an easy way to check the water depth into the ground. I have St. Augustine grass and live in a very warm, humid climate. Do you know how often this type of grass needs watered? Do I just go by your guide about the color change in the grass and/or springiness?

    1. Yeah these grass will be a little different than the ones we have over here in the UK but the ways you can use to tell when they need watered are the same. There isn’t really a better method between the two as both are as effective as the other, it’s entirely up to your preference and what one you feel most comfortable using.

      Thanks for the comment and if you have any more questions then please let me know 😉

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