When is the Best Time to Water the Grass?

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One of the most important things you can do to enjoy lush, green grass, even in the heat of summer, is to water it correctly. 

Best Time To Water The Grass

While turning on the hose or the sprinkler every day is easy, grass really thrives when watered with certain techniques and at certain times. 

You might be surprised to learn when the best time actually is to water your grass. Read on to learn more about when and how to give your lawn the drink it needs.

1. Water your grass when it shows signs of dryness

Show signs of dryness

Most lawns will require regular watering to truly thrive, unless you use xeriscaping or native plants to reduce the amount of extra water your yard requires. Consistent watering should prevent overly dry and droopy grass and keep it lush. 

However, if you do neglect watering your lawn, or if you are not watering it enough, your grass will let you know. There are a couple of sure signs that it is time to water your lawn, or increase the amount of watering you do.

  • The grass does not spring back

If the grass remains flat when you walk on it, then it lacks the moisture necessary to remain upright and healthy.

  • The tops of the grass blades curl

Dry grass will begin to wither. The first sign of distress is often the curling of the tops of the blades downward. 

  • The grass looks dull or yellow

Dry grass loses its bright green color and begins to look dull or even yellow. 

  • The ground is hard

Grass that has enough water is grass that is planted in moist, soft earth. Your watering efforts should lead to soft dirt 6 inches down. You can test the dryness of the ground by shoving a screwdriver into the ground.

It should easily slip into the ground for the first 6 inches. If the screwdriver encounters resistance, then you should consider watering your grass a little more frequently. 

When you notices either of these signs, consider giving your grass a much-needed drink. 

2. Water your grass in the morning

Not every time is the right time to give you grass a drink, however. Even dry grass may need to wait for a watering session if it is the wrong time of day, because watering at the wrong time of day can do more harm than good. 

The optimal time of day to water your lawn is early in the morning, before 10 a.m. The dew should still be on the grass, and the temperature should still be cool. 

Morning is a wonderful time to water your grass because conditions in the morning keep the ground wet and reduce the amount of water you need to give it

For example, the cooler temperatures and gentle breezes reduce evaporation and allow the water to soak into the ground and be absorbed by the grass roots.

In addition, when you water your grass in the morning, any water that lands on the leaves evaporates quickly as the sun strengthens and temperatures increase. 

If you do not have time to water in the morning, you can water your grass in the late afternoon, between 4 and 6 p.m. Temperatures are still cool, with enough time left in the day for blades of grass and the ground to dry before nightfall. 

3. Avoid midday watering

Avoid midday watering

Your grass might begin to look thirsty in the middle of the day. It might droop a little and look dry and sad. 

No matter how thirsty the grass looks in the afternoon, however, you should avoid watering it in the heat of the day. The blazing sun will quickly dry out the ground, forcing you to use more water in order to give the grass enough of a drink. 

In addition, the stronger winds that often occur in the middle of the day can dry up the water too quickly, making it more difficult for your grass to get the moisture it needs to grow lush and vibrant. 

4. Avoid watering in the evening

The evening comes with cooler temperatures and gentle winds as well. During a busy morning, it can be tempting to put off the watering until the evening. 

However, in the evening, water tends to stay on the ground and on the blades of grass. These damp conditions are the perfect breeding ground for diseases that can damage the grass. 

5. Water consistently

Water consistently

The time of day that you water your grass isn’t the only important aspect of keeping your lawn healthy. The frequency with which you water also plays a role. 

It is very important that you water your lawn on a consistent schedule. Sometimes, busy homeowners will water their grass every day for a few days and then abandon the lawn to its own devices for a few weeks. Almost a whole summer will go by with no watering, and then the homeowner will spray the grass for a few minutes with the garden hose.

Neither of these strategies leads to happy, healthy grass. Instead, inconsistent watering tends to stress the grass

You should either water your lawn regularly or leave it alone through the summer. When left alone, the grass will go dormant, as it does during the winter. This dormant state may not look lush and thriving, but it should allow the grass to survive with only the water that comes from the summer rain. 

6. Do not water your grass daily

Consistent watering does not mean daily watering of your grass. In fact, daily watering can oversaturate your lawn and lead to the development of disease in your lawn. Daily watering can also overwater your lawn and cause it to die. 

Instead of daily watering, try to water your grass 2 to 3 times a week. An every 3 day schedule will give the grass enough water to thrive without oversaturating it with moisture. 

The exception to this rule is new grass, particularly new sod. This brand new grass should be watered every day for about 15 minutes. Gentle, daily watering of the new grass rather than harsher, more intense watering will allow the baby grass to flourish. You can switch to your regular watering schedule, and begin to cut the grass, once it reaches a height of about 3 inches. 

7. Consider grass type when choosing a watering schedule

The type of grass you have in your lawn will determine how often it needs to be watered. 

Cool season grasses:

  • For example, struggle in the heat. They do best when you water them three times a week in order to keep their shallow root systems supplied with enough moisture

Warm season grasses:

  • On the other hand, have deeper root systems. These grasses only need to be watered twice a week. You may even be able to get away with watering them once a week.

8. Water about 1 inch a week

Overwatering is just as detrimental to the health of your lawn as is underwatering. The optimal amount of water to give your lawn is about an inch or an inch and a half a week.

An inch of water a week should be enough to keep the ground moist through the first 6 inches without creating an environment that breeds disease or that deprives the grass of the oxygen it needs to survive. 

An inch of water is hard to estimate. The best approach is to set a cup or a bowl out on your lawn and turn your sprinkler on. See how long it takes to fill the cup with one inch of water. That is the total amount of time you will need to devote to watering your lawn every week. 

Take that time period and divide it by two or three. That is how long you should water your lawn per watering session. 

Precise measuring of your sprinkler’s flow rate isn’t necessary as long as you know about how long to let it run every time you water your grass. 

What you may want to do, however, is purchase a timer or set a timer in your home to make sure you don’t forget to turn your sprinklers on and off at the right times. 

A timer that you use with your sprinkler will allow you to set when the sprinkler turns in and how long it runs. Automating the watering process cuts down in wasted water and ensures the consistent, regular watering your grass loves. 

When setting your timer and measuring the amount of water you give your grass, however, do not forget to take rain into account. If it rains during the week, count the rain total toward your inch of water for the week and adjust your watering times accordingly. 

9. Learn the signs of overwatering

Too much water can harm or even kill your grass. Be aware of the signs that your grass may need less water:

  • Soggy ground that leaves footprints when you walk on it
  • Mushrooms or non-grass plants growing in your lawn.

When you notice signs that your grass is getting too much water, gradually reduce the amount of water you give it until the moisture level is right. 

Watering your grass correctly requires a little bit of planning and some good timing. Try to water your lawn early in the morning. Give your yard about one inch of water every week, and keep track of your sprinkler’s water flow, as well as the amount of rain you get. With proper watering, you can enjoy a vibrant lawn all summer long

Rose Hawes

Rose Hawes

A former master gardener, I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing and have been published in magazines such as Woman's World, Birds and Blooms, and Writer's Digest. I've also created hundreds of gardening articles for online sites such as Dave's Garden, eHow, and SFGate.

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