Watering Guide

Lawn Watering Guide - Inland Empire

(Keeping the grass green with just the right amount of water)


Your lawn is not only an asset to your house; it is an asset to the environment. A well-managed lawn will help protect, and possibly even improve water quality.

With the many benefits that come from a well maintained, properly cared for lawn, it is important for each homeowner to be sure to practice sensible and informed watering practices for their lawn. Too much or too little water results in a loss of benefit and will cost more to maintain.

Good watering practices are not difficult to achieve!

How to Water

An established lawn needs to be watered deeply and infrequently. Like most things, too much of a good thing results in a weak lawn. If a lawn receives too much water, both the leaves and the roots will be weak and short. When the plant receives an abundance of water, it will not develop deep roots because it doesn’t need to.

The goal is to water deeply to encourage a strong, deep root system. Water so that the top 6 to 8 inches of soil are moist.

As you adjust your watering to meet this goal, it is important that the lawn area receives uniform coverage.

When to Water

The best time to water is early in the morning between 2am and 8am. The early morning provides many benefits. They include:

  • Evaporation loss is minimal.
  • Coverage is good because of good water pressure and light winds.

Watering in mid-day to late afternoon is less effective due to evaporation from wind and sun, and is less cost-effective. In addition, watering in the evening or overnight hours encourages disease activity.


The information below will help to assist you in selecting the proper watering schedule for your lawn based upon your type of grass, total water needs for the week, and how long your soil will absorb water before runoff occurs.

Step 1 – Determine Your Type of Lawn

  • Cool season grasses are the dominant varieties for homeowners. These grass types include: Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Annual and Perennial Ryegrass, and Bentgrass.
  • Warm-season grasses include Bermudagrass (both common and hybrids), St. Augustinegrass, and Kikuyugrass.

Step 2 – Determine Runoff Time

To determine the maximum amount of time your sprinkler can be left on at one time, observe a long run cycle from beginning to the time when runoff begins to occur. Runoff is defined as when water begins to run off of the lawn area onto concrete or non-lawn surfaces. This is the length of time you may run your sprinklers at one time. Multiple watering may be needed to provide the optimum amount of water per week.

Step 3 – Determine the Output of Your Sprinklers

  1. Set out 6 or more straight-sided, same-size containers, spaced evenly on your lawn (containers may include tuna cans, cat food cans, coffee mugs, etc).
  2. Run sprinklers for 20 minutes.
  3. Measure the water depths in each container with a ruler.
  4. Calculate the results:
    1. Determine average depth by adding the depths of all containers then divide by the number of containers.
    2. Multiply the average depth by 3 to determine how many inches per hour that your sprinkler system applies.

Step 4 - Determine How Many Minutes to Water Your Lawn Each Week

  • Choose your grass type (cool-season or warm-season) and the current month on the table and choose the sprinkler output column that is closet to your system from Step 3. The value is the total number of minutes to run your sprinklers per week to provide proper irrigation based upon historical averages for the current month.
  • Less frequent, deep watering is best as this promotes deep root growth. However, if you have brown spots or too much runoff, then you need to divide the total minutes by 2, 3 or 4 to spread the water applications over the week.
  • You may need to check the system for even coverage if brown spots continue. Check sprinkler heads for clogs, malfunctions or broken components. If your changes significantly change the output of your system, you will need to repeat steps 2 – 4 to determine the correct amount of water.
Warm-Season Lawns – So Cal Inland Valleys
  0.5 in 1.0 in 1.5 in 2.0 in
JAN 42 21 14 10
FEB 57 28 19 14
MAR 80 40 27 20
APR 96 48 32 24
MAY 119 60 40 29
JUN 144 72 48 36
JUL 165 83 55 41
AUG 155 77 42 39
SEP 124 62 41 31
OCT 88 44 29 22
NOV 54 27 18 14
DEC 42 21 14 10
Cool-Season Lawns – So Cal Inland Valleys
  0.5 in 1.0 in 1.5 in 2.0 in
JAN 56 28 19 14
FEB 75 38 25 19
MAR 106 53 35 27
APR 128 64 43 32
MAY 159 80 53 40
JUN 193 96 64 48
JUL 221 110 74 55
AUG 207 103 69 52
SEP 165 82 55 41
OCT 117 59 39 29
NOV 73 36 24 18
DEC 55 28 19 14
  • During hot, dry or windy conditions, the lawn may require extra irrigation to replace the excessive water loss due to the weather.
  • During periods of high rainfall, you can shut off your sprinklers. This will conserve water and take advantage of the rain.

Phone: 909-980-7866
Email: BetterLawnCare@NaturaLawn.com

Illustrations and Charts courtesy of UC Davis "Guide to Healthy Lawns"
(see www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/TOOLS/TURF/MAINTAIN/irrigate.html)

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