When Should I Water My Lawn?

Brian McMaster

        If you want a healthy green lawn, you need to be sure you are watering your lawn correctly. While many variables need to be taken into account, using this guide will help you create the perfect irrigation schedule for your lawn.


        Proper irrigation sets the tone for your lawn's health.  Not providing enough irrigation can lead to drought stress while overwatering leads to weak roots and promotes disease development. 


        The best practice is to water your lawn deeply and infrequently.  The idea is to ensure only the root zone is saturated and then has enough time to dry out before the next irrigation cycle occurs.  This encourages the roots to grow longer which allows plants to withstand extended periods of drought.  


        How Long Should I Water My Lawn?

        The length of time to run your sprinklers during a cycle depends on a few things, but most importantly is what type of sprinkler you have in each irrigation zone. For example, stationary spray sprinklers apply more water in the same amount of time as rotary sprinklers. 


        For your lawn, the goal is to apply about a half inch to three-quarters inch of water per cycle. You want to saturate the root zone without creating runoff.  A typical spray zone should run about 20-30 minutes per cycle, while a rotor zone needs at least 45 minutes to an hour per cycle. 


        If you have a combination of rotors and sprays on one zone, you risk the issue of overwatering or underwatering and should consider an irrigation renovation.


        When is the best time of day to irrigate my lawn?

        The best time of day to water your lawn is the early morning hours, just before dawn.  You will make the most efficient use of water when you irrigate just before the sun rises because the water is less likely to evaporate during this time.


        Since there is going to be little or no wind during the early morning hours, you are also minimizing the potential for drift and your sprinklers will apply water accurately.


        While the potential for water loss through evaporation is still low shortly after dusk, you have an increased risk of disease issues since your grass will stay wet all night long.


        Which days of the week can I water my lawn?

        As the seasons change, so does the amount of water your lawn needs.  You should continue to water your lawn for the same length of time each cycle, but you will not have to water your lawn as often during the cooler seasons.


        As a general rule of thumb, water your lawn 2-3 times a week in the summer and once a week during the winter.  The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) is a regulatory agency that has imposed watering restrictions on our local area.  The restrictions specify that during daylight savings time (March thru November) you can water your lawn twice a week and outside of daylight savings time (November thru March) you can only water your lawn once a week.


        There are some exceptions to this rule which provide you the ability to water your lawn more than twice a week:

        • Irrigation of new landscape

        • Watering in chemical or fertilizer applications

        • Irrigation from reclaimed water sources

        • Permitted smart controllers


        The restrictions imposed by SJRWMD also specify which day of the week you can water based on your home’s address.  

        Time of Year
        Odd Residential Address
        Even Residential Address
        Nonresidential Address
        Daylight Savings Time
        Wednesday/Saturday
        Thursday/Saturday
        Tuesday/Friday
        Eastern Standard Time
        Saturday
        Sunday
        Tuesday


        While the SJRWMD allows the use of reclaimed water on any day, it is the individual municipality who is supplying the reclaimed water that sets its own restrictions on the availability of the reclaimed water source.  Therefore, if your irrigation system is supplied by reclaimed water it is important to be aware of the reclaimed water availability schedule.  If you scheduled your irrigation system to run on a day that your municipality does not supply water, your lawn will not be watered!



        Look at your lawn for answers

        This guide should help you establish a starting point for an irrigation schedule.  Since every lawn has different conditions that may warrant using more or less water it is important to keep an eye on your lawn and adjust as needed.


        If you pay close attention to your lawn you will be able to notice when your lawn is ready for water.  As your lawn dries out, the individual leaf blades begin to fold up from a loss of moisture.  Overall the lawn will take on a dull gray-green appearance compared to a vibrant green color.

        As always, if you need any help from our irrigation team, be sure to let us know!