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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Water Protection > Watering Your Lawn

Watering Your Lawn


What is the seasonal watering period?

June through September. From October through May, minimal lawn watering is usually needed.

What is the best time of day to water?

Morning hours—from 4 to 8 a.m.—are most efficient. Less water is lost to evaporation in the early morning, temperatures are lower, sunlight is less intense, and there is less wind. Midday watering is less efficient because of evaporation, though it may benefit plants in hot weather since it cools them and reduces stress. Try to avoid watering in late evening-plants may remain wet through the night, encouraging lawn diseases.

How can I tell if my lawn is water-deficient?

Notice its color-if it’s changed from a lively green to a duller, grayer green, your lawn needs water.

Look behind you when you walk across your lawn—if your footprints remain visible, your lawn needs water.

How much should I water?

That depends on your soil.

  • Loamy soils: Approximately 1 inch of water a week is needed (including rainfall).
  • Sandy soils: Since sandy soils don’t hold water well, apply approximately 1/2 inch of water 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Clay soils: Since clay and clay loam soil hold water well, apply approximately one 1-inch or two 1/2-inch applications a week. If you notice puddles of water on your lawn surface, you’re over-watering.

How can I tell how much water I’ve applied?

Coffee can method: Place a row of equal-sized, straight-sided cans in a line at 1- or 2-foot intervals from your sprinkler to the farthest point of watering. Time how long it takes to fill the cans 1/2 to 1 inch—that’s how long you should water your lawn.

Spade method: Sink a shovel into the soil and form a hole. Soil should be moist to the depth of the spade. Then remove the shovel and press the soil into place with your foot.

Watering the lawn with a sprinkler and showing how the water that lands on pavement runs into the storm sewer

MDA Contact

Lawn Care and Water Quality Program

Pesticide & Fertilizer Management Division