6 Lawn Irrigation Mistakes Costing You Money

Katy Willis
Written by Katy Willis
Updated January 31, 2022
Garden watering of a spring green lawn
Photo: konoplizkaya / Adobe Stock


  • Overwatering is one of the most common (and easiest) mistakes to make.

  • Learning the best time of day to water cuts costs and gives new life to your lawn.

  • Following a consistent watering schedule delivers excellent improvements for patchy lawns.

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Lawn irrigation isn’t difficult, whether you use a sprinkler system or prefer to use your garden hose—but it's easy to get wrong, too. If you find you're suddenly spending more on water or lawn care products, take a look at your lawn irrigation system and routine to figure out if something you're doing or not doing is the root of your increased spending. It’s also well worth the time to schedule a professional irrigation system inspection.


Overwatering is one of the most costly and most common lawn irrigation mistakes you can make. It costs you money in multiple ways. 

First, you're wasting water and money by giving the lawn more water than it needs, which is bad for your bank balance and your home's carbon footprint. 

Next, you end up spending a lot more than you need to on lawn care because overwatering or frequent shallow watering encourages weak, shallow root systems. Because the roots don't penetrate deep into the soil, they have very poor water and nutrient uptake, requiring more money for heavier, more frequent lawn feeding. 

Plus, because the plants struggle to absorb enough water because there's intense competition close to the surface, you have to water more frequently, perpetuating the problem. 

Overwatering and the building of a dense, shallow root system result in a lack of oxygen, too, suffocating the soil and your grass. 


Underwatering is just as damaging as overwatering. If you don't give your grass enough water, you weaken the root system and the plants, making your lawn susceptible to disease, fungi, and pests. In extreme cases, your lawn will start to die off, and you'll notice brown patches that will need removing and reseeding. 

To correct the results of a long period of underwatering or drought, you'll most likely need to hire a local lawn care specialist to bring back your greener, lusher lawn.

Watering at the Wrong Times

A portable lawn watering machine
Photo: Jane Rubtsova / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Watering the lawn at the wrong time of day costs you money because of the need for extra lawn care services to fix the damage. Watering late in the evening results in the grass staying damp overnight, which encourages fungal pathogens and the growth of fungal spores. Watering too late in the morning or afternoon results in dry, burned, dead grass that needs reseeding. Plus, in hot weather, if you water during the peak heat of the day, the water evaporates faster than the grass can absorb it. 

The best time of day to water is between 4 and 8 am.

Watering During Wet Weather

While you probably won't go and get your hose out if it's raining, if you've got your sprinklers on an automatic program, they'll come on whatever the weather. This is a waste of water and electricity, which costs you money. So, if it is or has been raining, try to remember to turn off the sprinklers.

Faulty Equipment

While often overlooked, checking your sprinkler system before summer can prevent water and money wastage. Faulty equipment leads to wastage and increases the likelihood of developing an unhealthy lawn. 

Make sure you check that your sprinkler heads are all in good working order. If they leak excessively, water gets wasted. Plus, if the water pools in one spot, it'll damage the soil. 

The other thing to check is the spray height. If there isn't enough pressure to force the water over the correct height, the spray and flow will be inconsistent, and your lawn will end up patchy, as large areas won't get enough water. 

Your local lawn care company can check your sprinkler system for you and adjust the sprinkler height to match the size of your lawn. 

If the sprinkler heads have worn seals, then they don't retract fully after they've finished the watering cycle. This leads to damage from foot traffic, strimming, and lawn mowing. Often, this damage is extensive and requires you to replace the heads completely. Therefore, make sure you or your lawn care pro check the sprinkler head seals regularly. 

Leaks are common but aren't always noticeable because they happen below the surface of your lawn. It's best to let a pro perform a yearly checkup on your sprinkler system so they can find and fix any leaks or weeping valves before they damage your lawn or increase your water costs excessively.

Inconsistent Watering

Inconsistent watering is a combination of overwatering and leaving the grass for extended periods with no water. This level of inconsistency results in weak, disease-prone, patchy lawns. Shallow root systems, which develop because of overwatering, can't cope well with long dry spells because the roots don't penetrate deep enough to access the moisture in the soil further down. Instead, all the roots compete for the little bit of water that doesn't get evaporated from the top inch or two.

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