Best Time to Water the Lawn

Best Time to Water the Lawn

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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 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 on the same day and time every week during the summer period 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 to be watered once per week, while another just round the corner needs to be done twice per week. So instead of you telling the lawn when it needs to be watered, you really need to wait for it to tell you (ensure you spot the signs early).

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

  1. 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 to be watered.
  2. 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 three days each week, no more than twice, but this really depends on your soil type, weather conditions and the season. 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.

If you are not sure what type of soil you have see my article – Lawn Soil Testing Advice. It also includes the best home soil tests currently available.

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 increase the frequency, if you’re having particularly wet conditions then decrease the watering accordingly. Just make sure you examine the lawn before watering and you’ll be good to go. Understanding how to water properly is also very important, but it will be covered later in this article.

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 6am and 10am you should be fine, as this is the optimum time for watering.

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 for many hours. So save yourself all the hassle and stick to the mornings.

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 1cm of water each time, and those with sand based soils you’ll need to give it about 2cm 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 jar 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.

Best Selling Rain Gauge

Last update on 2021-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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 15cm, 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, when it goes in easily it means that the soils is well watered. Time how long it took the sprinkler to reach the 15cm depth.

Both of these times and tests 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 understand your lawn and its particular watering needs. So make sure you keep trying out different sprinkler settings and watering times until you feel you are satisfied with 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 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/under water or waste valuable water.

Best Selling Sprinkler

Last update on 2021-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Let the Water Soak In If Your Soil Is Dry and Hard

If you’ve just experienced dry weather and your lawn is 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 watering for a shorter period than normal, wait for it to soak in and then water again for the same amount of time. If you apply water just like normal, then the water will just run right off.

Preparation 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 on your mower 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 weather changes and the rain arrives again, wait a couple of days then cut the lawn using a higher setting on your mower. Then fertilise your lawn to get it back up to speed.

FAQ – Best Time To Water The Lawn

When is the best time to water my lawn?

In the morning, between 6am and 10am.

Can I water my lawn at night?

Not advisable - water will sit there for hours promoting lawn disease.

How do I keep my lawn in top condition?

You will need to mow, fertilise and water it regularly. You will also need to manage and control any weeds and disease.

Why do I have waterlogged lawn?

If your soil is compacted the water will not able to drain through the soil resulting in waterlogged lawn.

If you found this post interesting then maybe you’d like to see some of my other garden related articles and tools to help you get the job done, visit 


4 thoughts on “Best Time to Water the Lawn

  1. 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 ;-)

  2. 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 ;-)

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