How Often Should I Water My Lawn?

It is best to water your lawn two to three times a week, giving it a deep soaking instead of watering it a little bit every day. Watering this way encourages the roots to grow deeper and improves your lawn’s drought tolerance.

The Common Myth With Lawn Sprinklers

One of homeowners' biggest misconceptions about their lawns is that they need to water it daily to keep it green and healthy. This is certainly not the case at all.

When you turn on your sprinklers daily, you teach the lawn to guzzle water daily to stay green, and the roots remain close to the soil surface. They never grow deep into the soil in search of more water.

In turn, your lawn has very little drought tolerance. When it’s hot and dry, it will struggle without water in as little as a couple of days and quickly start browning and drying out.

The Benefits of Deep Watering

Instead, you want to give your grass more water each time you turn your sprinklers on but do so less frequently. The goal is to water the top six to ten inches of soil each time, thoroughly soaking the root zone.

Watering this way encourages the grass to grow a more extensive root system, and the roots will grow deeper in the soil to find moisture. The longer, more extensive root system provides a larger surface area to help the grass absorb water during periods of drought stress.

How Much Water Does My Lawn Need?

The amount of water your grass needs depends on the type you’re growing in your lawn.

  • Cool-season grasses—such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall and fine fescue—that are grown in northern climates where winters are harsh typically need approximately 1” of water weekly.
  • Warm-season grasses—Zoysia, Bahia, Centipede Grass, and Bermuda—typically grown in southern climates need less water than their cool-season counterparts, requiring three-quarters to an inch of water weekly.

It’s always best to check with your local county cooperative extension or look online to determine the watering requirements for your specific grass type.

Factors that Impact Watering Frequency

There is never a one-size-fits-all approach to watering, but rather general guidelines. Watering two to three times a week is optimal. However, the following circumstances affect how often you water your lawn.

How Hot Is It Outside?

Obviously, air temperature impacts how long the soil stays wet.

  • When temperatures are below 60°F, you only need to water once or twice a week.
  • When temperatures are between 60 and about 85°F, you should water two to three times a week.
  • When temperatures get above 85 or 90°F, you might want to add an extra watering weekly.

How Much Shade Does Your Lawn Get?

Areas in your yard that are partly or heavily shaded retain soil moisture much longer than spots that are in constant direct sunlight. This happens because the sun isn’t hitting the grass and soil as much, evaporating the water.

So, the more shaded your lawn is, the less often it needs watering. You may be able to water twice a week instead of three. Yards exposed to the sun all day long must be watered more frequently.

What is the Soil Type?

The type of soil you have also plays a considerable part in your watering schedule because soil textures absorb and retain water differently.

With this in mind, it’s important to determine your soil texture.

  • Clay soils have fine particles with small pore spaces between them. Because of this, they are slow to absorb water, but the way the particles are arranged, they retain moisture really well. If you’re growing grass on heavy clay soils, you won’t need to water as frequently, but you might also need to slightly scale back on the amount to avoid overwatering.
  • Loamy soils are a great mix of sand, silt, and clay and retain water very well, so you don’t have to water them as frequently. They contain some clay, though, so you need to watch for overwatering and flooding, but they aren’t as prone as soils with higher clay content.
  • Sandy soils absorb water very quickly and have poor water-holding capacity, so they quickly drain. You’ll need to water grass planted in sand or sandy loams more frequently because they dry out rapidly.

Signs Your Lawn Needs Watering

One of the best ways to gauge how often your lawn needs watering is to watch for physical signs. If the grass looks dull, has a grayish cast, or you can see footprints after walking across it, you should up the watering frequency or amount.

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