What’s the best way to water your lawn? How often should you do it, what time of day is best and how long should each watering session be?

Your lawn watering practice is important for the health of your grass and your lawn care costs. When you water your lawn, you want to be sure that your grass can make full use of every drop of water that goes into the lawn.

Contrary to what many homeowners think, daily watering of the lawn for short periods of time does not always create a healthy lawn. For the best results with lawn grass, you must look beyond how much water you feed into the lawn. Instead, you want to let the grass guide your watering schedule.

The basic rule for watering a lawn is to do it when the grass needs it and not on a regular basis. But how can you determine when your grass needs water and how much water to give it? The correct answer to this question will vary from location to location.

Factors that affect lawn watering frequency

The factors that should determine your lawn irrigation frequency and amount are:

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  • Temperature
    Temperature differences have a profound effect on your lawn watering schedule. In warmer regions, lawns dry out faster and tend to need more watering. For homeowners in Utah, with its semi-arid or desert climate and relatively low humidity, lawns need more water than in states with milder temperatures. It is also common to see an abnormally cold week or an abnormally hot week at any given time, which impacts watering for that week.
  • Season of the year
    Although atmospheric humidity and moisture levels in Utah are fairly stable throughout the year, you still need to adjust lawn watering to accommodate the seasons. That’s because seasonal conditions alter the relative dryness or wetness of your lawn.
  • Turfgrass variety
    The drought tolerance of different species of grass varies. The deep root systems of Fescue grass means you don’t have to worry about lawn watering times as much as when you have Bluegrass, which needs more frequent watering due to its shallow roots system.
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  • The nature of the soil
    Regions often have certain soil types that dominate in the area. Soil types affect lawn watering times because different soil types absorb and retain water at different rates. With clay soil, you have to do less watering than if you had sandy soils.
  • The presence of trees
    If there are shade trees or shade-providing structures in the yard, they reduce evaporation rates and cut the amount of watering needed. On the other hand, trees can also increase the demand for water by competing with grass.
  • Lawn management
    More standard fertilizer means more water; without adequate water to diffuse their effects, fertilizers will harm your lawn. Fertilizer composition, application timing, and amount influence the greening process, as well as your watering schedule. New research has produced “fertilizers” containing many water retaining products that can actually be used to keep turf grass green and healthy with less water.

Lawn-watering times: the key to success

Watering it for 10-15 minutes every day is the worst thing for the health of your lawn. Even if the grass looks green, it does not benefit from this kind of schedule. Lawn health isn’t just about the greenness of grass blades, but the depth of the root system.

Frequent watering produces a shallow and weak root system, which leaves the grass without any level of resilience. In spite of its lush appearance, the grass will have a low tolerance for heat. A healthy lawn is one that can get by on as little water as possible.

Light and frequent watering mean grass roots don’t have to seek out water, since the water stays near the surface of the lawn. So, the roots don’t grow deep into the soil. In order for your lawn to stay healthy in the hotter months, you want grass roots to go 3-4” into the soil.

Also, shallow root systems don’t make efficient use of nutrients and water. Moreover, the plants will be more susceptible to disease, insect damage, and weed invasion. To get a deeper root system you should water your lawn deeply and less frequently.

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Utah Lawn Watering Guide

These guidelines will help you get the best results with your Utah lawn.


How much water is enough?

Typically, you should aim for one inch of water, whether by rainfall or your sprinkler system. One inch of water will penetrate to a depth of 6-8 inches into the soil. This is the level of infiltration you need to encourage grass roots to go deep. Aim for 2 ½ – 3 inches of water for every week in summer and 1½ – 2 Inches in spring or fall.


When should you water the lawn?

The ideal time is in the morning before 8 a.m. Watering your lawn during this time prevents evaporation and gives the grass time to absorb the water before the day becomes hot. Furthermore, grass blades will dry up before nightfall; this is important for preventing fungus and diseases.


What’s the right watering frequency?

Under normal conditions you should water the lawn 2-4 days a week for however long is needed to get 1” of water. (This depends on your sprinkler heads.) Breaking that 1-inch into 3 waterings instead of one will yield deeper water penetration. This is called water cycling. You may not even need to water your lawn at all if there has been rain. Generally speaking, a watering frequency of three or four a week will give you the best results in the summer.

What About During Drought Conditions?

When watering is cut back in drought conditions, lawn watering can take some careful planning. The best way to figure this out with your lawn is to guess and check and then continue to adjust. Remember, watering aims to get and keep as much water in the root zone as possible.

Remember, limiting watering to “one watering” doesn’t necessarily mean only watering once. Multiple short watering times that total a normal single watering can keep more water in the soil better than a single watering time. Also, watering in the morning when it’s cool will mean water will evaporate less, keeping more water in the root zone for longer periods.

Following these guidelines will help you have a healthier and more resilient lawn. If you’d rather not have to worry about it pay to have your landscape professionally maintained, click here for a free quote.