The Best Time of Day to Water Your Grass (and How Often)

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated March 24, 2022
A woman watering garden with hose
Photo: ArtistGNDphotography / E+ / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Before 10 a.m. is the best time to water your lawn.

  • Aim for three 20-minute waterings per week.

  • Water new grass lightly, so seeds don’t get washed away.

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If healthy, green grass is your goal, knowing when to water is crucial. Plus, with concerns about drought conditions in many parts of the country (and water bills skyrocketing), it’s important to understand the best time of day to water your lawn for maximum effectiveness.

Read on to learn the intricacies (there’s more than you think) of watering grass and how you can get on an optimal schedule so your yard is lush and green every day.

When Is the Best Time of the Day to Water Grass?

Ideally, the best time of day to water grass is before 10 a.m. Watering early in the day minimizes the chance that heat and wind will cause rapid evaporation, and will keep the turf cool for the rest of the day so your grass doesn’t stress out as much. You can buy a water timer for your sprinkler system if getting up early and watering alongside the sunrise is not your thing.

If morning is not a possibility, late afternoon is the next best thing. Just don’t wait until evening (anytime after six); damp soil sitting overnight can become a hotbed for fungus growth. 

How Long Should I Water My Grass?

Lawns need about 1 inch of water per week. Mark a plastic container with half-inch lines and place it in your yard. Set a timer when you water, so you can see how long it takes to get to the half-inch marker. If it takes 30 minutes, then you should be watering for 20 minutes, three times per week to get to the 1 inch requirement.

How Often Should I Water My Grass?

Watering every day can create a shallow root system, which dries out fast and will weaken your lawn. Less frequent, deep watering helps the roots to grow. 

As we recommend above, approximately three times per week is a good schedule, though it’s common to drop that to one or two times per week in cooler seasons, when there is more rain and more humid atmospheric conditions.

Lawn-Watering Tips

An automatic sprinklers watering grass
Photo: MariuszBlach / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

These tips will keep your lawn healthy and thriving, and help you spot watering mistakes.

Be Gentle With New Grass

With newly planted lawns, water delicately so as not to wash away the seeds and erode the soil. If you have a sprinkler system, set it to oscillate for a soft spray on your new grass, until it takes root.

Spot Overwatering

If your lawn feels more like mud than moist dirt and causes your feet to sink a bit as you walk on it, you might be overwatering. Scale back the frequency of your waterings slowly so your lawn doesn’t go into shock.

Watch Out for Dry Spots

Signs of dry grass include curling at the top of blade and discoloration. Another sign is if your grass doesn’t bounce back after being walked or driven on. You can test for dryness using a screwdriver—push a screwdriver into a brown patch in your lawn, as well as in a green patch. 

If it’s easy to push into the green patch but not the brown patch, your lawn could be suffering from drought stress.

Consider Xeriscaping

If learning an optimal watering schedule feels onerous or you’re concerned about water usage, consider xeriscaping, which is water-light or water-free landscaping, using sand, pebbles, or mulch instead of grass. Many plants, such as aloe and pencil cactus, thrive off of nothing more than rainfall and sunlight.

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