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When is the Best Time to Water Grass?

Lawn sprinkler watering green grass
PEPPERSMINT / Shutterstock

Homeowners who have lush, green lawns have mastered the art of the green thumb. While it’s common knowledge that water helps plants grow, lawn pros know how and when to use it. What time of the day and in what seasons do lawns benefit from a periodic douse of water? What kind of fertilizers and weed killers promote lawn growth? This guide will give you specifics like the best time to water grass and other lawn care tips. Your journey to a beautiful lawn is just a few steps away.

When is the best time to water my lawn?

The best time to water grass on your lawn is in the early morning before the temperatures climb. Anytime before 10 a.m. is ideal. The cooler temperatures in the morning ensure more water gets to the roots of your grass and doesn’t evaporate in the hot sun. Avoid watering during the hottest time of the day, which is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

If lawn watering isn’t possible in the early morning, wait until the late afternoon, such as around 3 or 4 p.m. when temperatures start to fall. That will give your lawn enough time to absorb the water, but not late enough so that it stays wet overnight, which can promote fungus growth.

Other important lawn care tips

1. Watering grass during different seasons

You may be wondering how long to water grass during different seasons. Overall, your lawn has the most watering needs during the summer when it’s hot and dry. The key is to give your grass between one and two inches of water per week. If there’s no rainfall, watering two to three times per week in the summer should be the maximum frequency.

For colder seasons like late fall and winter, the natural levels of rain and snow should be enough to keep your lawn adequately watered. However, if there is a dry spell, water your lawn twice a week for 15 minutes each time. The best time to water grass in colder seasons is in the early morning, just like in the spring and summer. An interval between three to seven days in colder seasons should be sufficient.

To know if your lawn is adequately watered, try this test. If you can push a six-inch screwdriver into your lawn without a struggle, then your soil is properly watered. If the screwdriver sticks before you can fully insert it, then your lawn is too dry.

2. Don’t overwater grass

When it comes to watering grass, you can have too much of a good thing. When you overwater your lawn, you can drown the roots of the grass. Constant watering also keeps grass root pores full of water, which makes it difficult for them to absorb oxygen—a vital component for healthy grass growth.

Grass doesn’t have watering needs as high as other plants. While some of your favorite garden flowers may need daily watering, grass can die when watered too frequently. Frequent watering also keeps your lawn too wet, which breeds fungus growth. When you water at a proper interval, you allow the roots to breathe and grow deeply, which makes your grass green, lush, and strong.

3. If needed, aerate your lawn

When you notice yellow grass, puddles of water, thinning grass, or bald patches, you’re either overwatering your lawn or you might have a drainage problem. Poor drainage can drown the roots of your grass and inhibit optimal growth. By aerating your lawn with an electric or manual aerator like the Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator, you can increase the circulation of air to meet the roots of your grass and improve drainage. Aerating your lawn also helps fertilizer work better.

If the soil of your lawn is loose, you don’t need to aerate your lawn often. Overall, a recommended frequency is once per year. You can always consult a lawn care pro to give you a full assessment of your lawn’s aerating needs.

4. Apply lawn-boosting products

A great time to apply lawn enhancers like fertilizer and weed killers is after aerating the lawn. This allows the products to fully immerse in the soil and benefit your grass. Apply products that can help your grass thrive like broadleaf weed killers which can eliminate crabgrass, clovers, and dandelions that often get in the way of grass growth. Ortho Weed B-Gon is a popular selective weed killer that doesn’t harm your grass when you use it, according to the manufacturer’s directions.

If you want a healthier lawn, then a product like Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food can nourish your grass to make it greener and grow stronger roots that prevent future lawn problems. Weeds like to grow in lawns with patches and unhealthy grass, but when your lawn thrives, nuisances like crabgrass are less likely to multiply. Watering your lawn according to the recommended frequency for the season helps fertilizers like these get into the soil and work where your grass needs nutrients most.

5. Water your sod and grass seed strategically

If you’re repairing part of your lawn or starting completely from scratch, you need to follow special care directions for grass seed and sod. When you apply grass seed, first, cover it with straw to protect it from birds and other wildlife. Then, water the grass seed one to two times a week to keep the soil consistently moist. Light watering is more beneficial to grass seed and best promotes eventual growth. Too much watering can wash away grass seed and have the opposite effect. Use an oscillating sprinkler, like the Melnor XT Turbo, to water your grass seed gently instead of hosing down your lawn aggressively.

If you plan to use sod, you need to water it multiple times a day and decrease the frequency as the sod takes root. For example, you should water sod three to five times a day for it to receive between four and six inches of water in the first two weeks. Then, water one to three times per day on week three, and finally, you can water the sod every two to three days. To help the seams grow together and look natural, press the sod into the soil, which helps the roots interlock.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How long should you water your grass?
You should water your grass for 15 to 30 minutes each time, depending on how dry the soil is. Aim to apply one to two inches of water on the lawn per week.

Is it better to water your lawn in the morning or in the evening?
It’s better to water your lawn in the morning since waiting until the evening risks letting your wet lawn grow fungus overnight. Avoid peak temperatures between noon and 2 p.m. and water in the mid-afternoon if morning isn’t an option.

Does watering grass in the sun burn it?
Although dry grass can scorch, watering it in the sun doesn’t burn your lawn. The concept of grass burning in the sun due to water droplets reflecting light is a myth. The dry, discolored grass you may be seeing is likely caused by drought or excess salt in the soil.

How do I know if I overwatered my lawn?
To know if you’ve overwatered your lawn, you can see immediate signs in your lawn’s texture. A “squishy” lawn is a telltale sign. Yellow, dying patches of grass is another byproduct of overwatering. Knowing when to water grass and keeping an eye on the weather will keep these symptoms away.

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