How Often Should I Water Lawn With Sprinkler System?

lawn sprinkler system how often

How often you should water your lawn with a sprinkler system depends on many factors so it is a hard question to answer.

It all depends on what your local climate is and what the drainage is like on your lawn and what variety of grass you have.

I do normally advise people that it is a better idea to water your lawn less often but give it a deep water when you do water it.

By giving your lawn a deep water I mean you should water it so much that it is completely drenched all the way down to the root system as this encourages the root system to grow deep and a lawn with a deep root system is a healthy lawn that will be a lot more tolerant of drought compared to a lawn that is watered every day and has become dependant on surface water.

You really have to be the judge of how often your lawn needs watered with your sprinkler system and when you figure it out you can set a routine but bear in mind that your watering routine may need altered depending on the season and even variations in climate on a week to week basis. 

Check out my article on the best types of sprinkler systems for your lawn.

How To Tell If My Lawn Needs Water?

Really, there is no scientific way to tell if your lawn needs water and it all comes down to your observations and judgment.

There are a number of observations you can make to judge whether your lawn needs water and the most simple yet effective method is the footprint test.

To use the footprint test simply walk across your lawn then turn around and if you see your footprints across your lawn this is a sign the grass on your lawn is stressed and needs to be watered.  If you walk across your lawn and the grass bounces back quickly then this is a sign your lawn does not need to be watered.

You should be able to tell when your lawn needs to be watered by just looking at it as the grass blades will change color and become slightly blue/ grey in color compared to the lush green in a well-watered lawn.

When grass needs watered the grass blades will tend to appear to roll up so it’s easy enough to tell when your lawn needs to be watered when you learn the obvious signals.

Click here to find out the answer to whether your grass will get sunburnt if you water it in the sunshine.

rotary lawn sprinkler

What Type Of Sprinkler System Do You Have?

Keeping your lawn green can be a challenge and that’s why many people opt to use a sprinkler system for watering. There are different types of sprinkler systems for residential use that you may choose to use.

  • Rotary sprinklers – a rotary sprinkler is a common type of sprinkler. Water pressure is used to rotate the arms so that it will evenly spray your lawn in a circular fashion. This is an excellent choice for lawns where a circular spray pattern is an ideal choice.
  • Traveling sprinklers – a traveling sprinkler will travel along on top of a hose you have previously laid out. Water pressure is used to push this type of sprinkler, it will cover a large area of lawn and will deeply water it if you have set the water pressure to the ideal setting.
  • Stationary sprinklers – a stationary sprinkler is one of the easiest to use. They are good for small lawns as they don’t distribute water very evenly so you do have to keep your eye on them and move them when its current area is soaked. Stationary sprinklers do deliver a large amount of water quickly so you really do have to watch what you are doing when you use one.
  • Impact sprinklers – impact sprinklers use a very powerful stream of water which moves its arms in a circle covering a large area. It will shoot its stream out at a low angle which makes it ideal for yards with low trees but you have to take care around flower beds as the powerful stream may wreck them.
  • Oscillating sprinklers – the oscillating sprinkler uses a long plastic or metal tube that moves back and forth resulting in a wide fan spray pattern. This type of sprinkler can quickly water a large area up to 25 or 30 feet but due to its high projection, it’s no good if you have low trees in your yard or if it is very windy because it shoots the water quite high.

Check out my article on mowing patterns on your lawn with a push mower.

What Month Should I Start Watering My Lawn?

how often to water yard with sprinkler system

The month you should start watering your lawn depends very much on your local climate.

I always start to water my lawn as early as possible in spring as I feel the sooner you start to water your lawn the sooner it will start to turn green again after the winter and I have noticed this trend over many years, the sooner you start to water your lawn the sooner it will start to turn green.

If I lived somewhere that didn’t have a winter and was warm all year I don’t think I would ever stop watering my lawn during the winter months as its really only the cold weather that makes grass go dormant and that will reduce its need for watering, well that and winter rain.

Watering your lawn as early in spring as possible is important and especially so if you have soil that has a high sand or high clay content and this is because :

  • Sandy soil – sandy soil is not good at holding water so excess water will quickly drain away from where it is needed.
  • Clay soil – clay soil is will be a very dense soil so it can prohibit the water from actually being absorbed down to where it is needed.

Learn tips to aerate your lawn if you have an irrigation system installed.

How Do I Measure My Lawn For Watering?

The easiest way to measure your lawn for watering is to use the tuna can method.

For this method, I am presuming you have your lawn set up for watering with a sprinkler system and you are trying to figure out how long you should leave your lawn sprinklers on for.

You should place empty cans of tuna on your lawn and turn your sprinkler system on and you can measure how deep the water in the cans gets to calculate how much water you have sprayed on your lawn.

All sprinkler systems are different and that is why I recommend you use this measurement technique to work out how often and how long you need to turn your lawn sprinklers on for.

Run your sprinklers for 15 minutes and measure the depth of water in the cans, if its ¼ inch deep that means you need to turn your sprinklers on for 30 minutes to spray ½ an inch of water on your lawn.

Most lawns require at least 1 inch of water per week so I run mines depending on the climate for 30 minutes twice per week.

When you water your lawn with a ½ inch of water that allows the water to be absorbed down to 3 inches in the soil and if you decide to run your sprinklers to achieve 1 inch of water that would be absorbed down to 6 inches.

use a sprinkler often

When Should I worry About Sprinkler System Freezing?

You shouldn’t worry about your sprinkler system freezing if it was properly installed.

The only part of your sprinkler system that may be at risk of freezing is the parts that are constantly under pressure so that would be the line that supplies the valves. Most of the water should drain out the lines that run to the sprinkler heads when you turn the system off if your system was installed correctly.

If you aren’t sure your system was properly installed there are steps you can take to winterize your sprinkler system:

  • Shut your sprinkler water off at the main valve and cover the valve in insulation as it is the part most at risk of freezing (and bursting) 
  • Completely turn the digital control system off and unplug it for the winter don’t just put it on standby.
  • The pipes in your sprinkler system should automatically drain when turned off if you are concerned your pipes haven’t drained contact an irrigation specialist.
  • You should insulate any backflow preventers and any associated valves as they will be at risk of freezing and bursting. 

Check out my article on grass turning yellow during winter.

Does A Sprinkler System Add Value To Your Home?

When you have a sprinkler system for your lawn it may not directly add value to your home but it will ensure you have a beautiful lawn that could indirectly add value to your home as it will give a good first impression to potential buyers.

The value of having a sprinkler system for your lawn will vary depending on the location and type of property you have.

If you live in a cooler climate area and have a small yard in suburbia with a sprinkler system it may not add much value whereas if you live in the countryside in an area with hot weather with a couple of acres of grass then a sprinkler system could add significant value to your property.


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