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How Often & How Long Should I Water My Lawn?

In this brief article, we’ll answer the two most frequently asked questions related to watering and will provide guidance to help you reduce drought stress on your lawn.

 1) How often should I water my grass?

 2) How long should I run my sprinklers?
How often should I water my grass?
The answer to this question is simple: Usually not more than twice per week unless you are establishing a new lawn. More frequent watering may cause problems with your lawn.
Bermudagrass, Centipedegrass, and Zoysiagrass usually will look good and stay healthy with deep irrigation once weekly. Twice weekly would be plenty.

Tall Fescue will certainly need deep irrigation twice per week. Three times may be necessary for Tall Fescue during the hottest, driest weeks of summer. However, setting your sprinklers to run three or more times per week regardless of rainfall creates weed problems and increases the risk for fungal disease.

Some people water twice a day, every day, every other day, or at least three times per week. If you are one of these people you may be creating an ideal environment for fungal disease and some of the toughest weeds.

Some of the most frequently watered lawns that we see in the Wake Forest/Rolesville area have the worst problems with tough summer weeds. Warm-season annuals, such as crabgrass and spurge, need frequent moisture to germinate. Nutsedge thrives in persistently moist soil.

Pathogenic fungi also love moisture. They develop on the blades of your grass, and the more frequently you wet your grass the more likely you will be to eventually see a fungal disease.

How long should I run my sprinklers?
The answer to this question is not as simple because different types of sprinklers vary in the amount of water they put out in a given amount of time. Sprinkler heads vary in their rate of output and range of motion.

To find out how long you should run your sprinklers, measure how much water they are putting out. Put out a few soup bowls around your lawn. Then run your sprinklers to see how long it takes to fill them with a certain amount of water. Bermudagrass, Centipedegrass, and Zoysiagrass lawns will thrive on 1″ of water per week through the summer. Tall Fescue lawns need about 1.5″ of water per week.

The best practice for lawn irrigation is to measure rainfall and manually run sprinklers only when needed to supplement rainfall.

If you have an automated system and prefer to “set it and forget it,” consider this slight alternative for keeping your grass healthy while minimizing weeds and the risk for disease. Program your system to apply about 50-75% of the total amount of water your lawn needs. If rain does not make up the other 25-50% for a given week, then run your sprinklers one additional time to make up the difference.