The Ultimate Guide to Lawn Watering | TruGreen

The Ultimate Guide to Watering Your Lawn

By TruGreen December 20, 2023
Sprinkler watering healthy lawn

The Ultimate Guide to Watering Your Lawn

Lawn watering: It’s arguably the most basic — and yet, most important — aspect of proper lawn maintenance. Like everything else on the planet, grass needs water to survive and flourish. But how much water it needs, and when, isn’t always that cut-and-dry. Some types of grass require lots of water; others need less. Local climate conditions can also affect how frequently you need to water your lawn. Needless to say, it’s a lot to consider. 

However, having a proper watering schedule is essential if you want to get the most out of your lawn. That’s where TruGreen® comes in. Ahead, we’ll break down everything you need to know about watering grass, detailing how much water different types of grass need, and offering tips on the best time to water your lawn in different seasons. Plus, we’ll share a few of our tried-and-true tips for watering your lawn without needlessly wasting water. Find it all in this A to Z lawn watering guide. 

How Much Water Does Grass Need?

As a general rule, most turfgrass requires between one and two inches of water per week during periods of active growth. However, there is some variation between grass types. Factors such as soil conditions and the local climate in your region can also affect how much water your lawn needs to flourish. Keep reading for more details.

Warm-Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses are well-adapted for hot, dry climates, and as such, have lower water requirements than species that thrive in cool, moist conditions. A thorough watering of one to two inches per week is usually sufficient to keep your warm-season lawn happy and healthy.

Cool-Season Grasses

Cool-season grasses, like Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Fine Fescue, generally have a higher water requirement than warm-season grasses. These grasses also typically have shallower root systems, which means they’re less efficient at absorbing water than species with extensive roots. Start by watering about one to two inches per week, but be aware that amount may need to be adjusted if the lawn shows signs of moisture stress. 

Luckily, grass is generally pretty good at telling you when it’s not happy. An under watered lawn may wilt or discolor, while signs of overwatering include wet, muddy soil or the sudden appearance of mold or fungi. Keep an eye out for these telltale signs and adjust your watering schedule accordingly if needed. If you need help, contact your local TruGreen lawn care professional. They can help determine the ideal watering schedule for your lawn.

Why Timing Matters When Watering Your Lawn

You may not think it matters what time of day you water your lawn so long as your grass gets the water it needs. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The best time to water grass is in the morning, usually between 5:00 am and 10:00 am. At midday, the water may evaporate too quickly to be absorbed by your soil — meaning your grass won’t get all the water it needs to thrive. Watering grass at night, meanwhile, may leave your turf susceptible to damage, as the damp blades can attract fungal or bacterial pathogens. 

Additionally, how frequently you water your lawn significantly impacts root development. If your soil is regularly wet, your grass will maintain a shallow, sprawling root system. Allowing the topsoil to dry out periodically forces the grass to grow deeper roots in search of more moisture to absorb. This, perhaps surprisingly, is ideal. As briefly mentioned above, the deeper the root system, the better your grass will be able to absorb water from the soil. In practice, this means a lawn with a more robust root system will generally be able to tolerate periods of drought better than a lawn with shallow roots. So if you can, aim for longer, less-frequent watering: it’ll benefit your grass in the long run. 

Remember to always check local lawn watering regulations — especially if you live in drought-prone parts of the country.

Lawn Watering by the Season

Each season has its own set of weather conditions that can affect your lawn watering schedule. Here, learn how to water grass efficiently in each season.


In many regions, spring tends to be a cool, wet season (you know what they say: April showers bring May flowers). If you live somewhere with frequent spring storms, you’ll want to pay close attention to avoid overwatering your lawn. Give your grass a good soak if it’s been a week or so with no significant rainfall; otherwise, feel free to let nature do the work for you. 


Hot conditions mean water evaporates more readily — which, in turn, means that you’ll likely need to water your lawn more in the summer than you do in the spring or fall. Keep an eye on your grass in hot, dry weather: discoloration, curling or wilting typically indicate heat stress, which, if left unchecked, can lead to dormancy. To help ensure your grass is receiving the water it needs to flourish, consider putting an automatic timer on your lawn sprinklers (just don’t forget to turn them off if it’s raining to avoid over-saturating your soil). Note that the best time to water your lawn in hot weather is typically in the morning  before the sun has a chance to cause the moisture to evaporate.


Your fall lawn watering schedule, generally speaking, will look pretty similar to your springtime watering schedule. Mid-autumn is also the ideal time to help cool-season grasses prepare your lawn for the winter months with fall aeration and overseeding services designed to help encourage a healthy, thick lawn come spring.


Once it dips below 40oF, you generally don’t need to water your lawn. This goes doubly for regions that experience a lot of wintertime snow or rainfall. If you live in a warmer climate where temperatures stay above 40oF, aim to water your warm-season grass once a month, or when your soil is visibly dry.

Lawn Watering Tips and Techniques to Help Promote Healthy Turf

The internet is rife with tips about how, when and how long to water grass, like the 1-2-3-2-1 method. However, these tips may not be universally-beneficial (your lawn watering schedule should always be guided by your grass condition and local weather patterns), so here are a few guidelines we find helpful:

  • Use a screwdriver to test your soil moisture: Ideally, when you water your lawn, your soil should be saturated at a depth of six to eight inches. If you’re unsure how moist your soil is, use a long screwdriver to poke a hole in a few places throughout your lawn. If you can't easily push the screwdriver into the soil to a 6” depth, you are not applying enough water. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly to ensure your turf is getting what it needs to thrive.
  • Water long, water less: Deep, infrequent waterings (once to twice per week) will help encourage a deeper, more robust root system and are better for overall turf health.
  • The tuna can trick: It can be difficult to determine when you’ve given your lawn the needed inch of water. To help, place an empty tuna can out on your lawn while the sprinklers are running. The can is one inch deep, so once it fills, you can shut off your sprinklers for the day.

Finally, remember that while all of the above information can feel like a lot to take in, you don’t have to go it alone. Your local TruGreen expert can help you with your lawn watering questions and help tailor a lawn care plan that suits your needs. Compare our plans now to learn more about how TruGreen can help you build a lawn you can take pride in.


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