How Often Should I Water My Lawn?

In San Diego, we’re frequently asked how often “should” I water my lawn. The answer isn’t really a straightforward one, probably because there are several factors that make a difference on how we answer the question.

Learning how long to water your lawn is important for several reasons. Too much or too little water can result in a less than ideal appearance… with dead or dried patches of your lawn that invite weeds. Overwatering can also raise your water bill significantly so it pays off to have a fairly close idea of how much water your lawn requires to maintain green, good health. There are several factors to consider which include your soil and your specific growing zone.

As a general rule, lawn grass needs about one inch of water per week. This figure may change, though, depending on your soil type. Sandy soil and clay solid present different watering challenges. There’s no question that proper drainage from your lawn goes in hand-in-hand with meeting the water requirements of a healthy lawn. To achieve proper drainage, you have to find the right balance for your specific soil conditions:

  • Sandy Soil – If the composition of your soil is too sandy, water will run right through it as if it were a sieve. So giving your lawn one inch of water per week if it is growing in this kind of soil will not keep it adequately irrigated.
  • Clay Soil – But if your soil type has too much clay, it going to retain too much water. Your grasses roots do not like to sit in water constantly. First off, you’ll drown the roots, and secondly, it will make your lawn more susceptible to diseases.
  • Loamy Soil – A loamy soil strikes the right balance for achieving proper drainage. Loamy soil has sufficient organic matter for the right amount of water retention, and it will not lead to waterlogged conditions. This is what we want to achieve with building the perfect lawn.

The Real Question is How Long At A Time To Water Your Lawn

The important question for lawn health is not so much how long to water your lawn at any given time, as it is how much water to give your lawn at a time. The rule of thumb in San Diego (just about anywhere) is it takes your sprinklers about one hour to put out the required one inch of water per week. This is where you need to establish a good irrigation schedule to help you meet your lawn’s water requirements for sustained healthy growth.

A related question is how often to water your lawn. You do not have to provide the required one inch per week all at once. You can water for 30 minutes twice a week. We recommend against extending irrigation sessions beyond that (for example, watering for 20 minutes three different times a week is OK). Watering too frequently keeps roots too close to the surface. Less frequent watering encourages them to reach down deeper in search of water and a deeper root system is less susceptible to heat stress and pest damage.

San Diego has multiple micro-climates, and depending on where you’re located in the county, your specific needs will probably varry. We encourage you to reach out to us for a FREE Lawn Care evaluation of your property, and we’ll be able to give you exact answers on your true lawn care needs.

Do Your Part to be WaterSmart

The San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies offer numerous programs to help achieve water savings both indoors and outdoors. Find new ways you can be WaterSmart.