Lawn Watering: Too Much, Too Little, or Just Right?

May 24, 2024

It’s time to water your lawn to keep it green and healthy, but you don’t want to waste water. So, when is the best time to run your sprinklers and how much is too much, too little, or just right?


In our part of the country, research shows the best time to run your sprinkler is from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. when water pressure is high, wind is moderate, and the amount of water lost to evaporation is negligible. Watering early in the morning also reduces the chance of turf diseases.

Not a morning person? No problem. Just install an automatic sprinkler system with a timer so you can keep counting sheep while your sprinkler gets the job done.


According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, the amount of water to apply depends on the soil type and its moisture content:

  • On a loamy or silty soil, it’s best to apply around one inch of water once a week.
  • Sandy soil typically requires one-half inch of water twice a week.
  • Apply water slowly to clay soil, or at several different times, to allow time for it to soak in.

How long does a sprinkler need to run to apply an inch of water? For the average-size hose, it takes two to three hours. The following is a good way to check the amount of water applied:

  • Place small, straight-sided containers at different intervals in the sprinkling area.
  • Catch the water for an hour.
  • Measure the depth of water with a ruler.

Over-watering your lawn can cause shallow roots, nutrient loss, weed growth and other problems. Install a sensor to measure rain levels and use a water gauge. The simplest way to check for over-watering is to use the screwdriver method. If you can insert a screwdriver into the soil easily (about six inches deep), your lawn has enough water.