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How Often Do You Water Your Lawn?

September 15, 2020

A lawn that's a perfect carpet of green may be a part of the classic American landscape. How much is lawn watering a part of the life of a homeowner? To find out, we asked 1,000 homeowners from across the U.S. about their lawn watering habits. Here's what they had to say. 

How Often Do You Water Your Lawn?

This summer, we surveyed 1,000 homeowners about their lawn watering habits. The answers reveal that most people hope that rain will provide enough moisture to keep it alive. 

About 67 percent of homeowners don't water their lawns. At the other extreme, 10 percent of homeowners water their lawn at least once per week. 

watering your lawn

How often do you water your lawn?

  • I don't: 67.4%
  • Once a week: 10.4%
  • Every other day: 11.9%
  • Every day: 5.9%
  • Twice a day: 4.4%

For the people who don't water their lawn, the minimalist lawn care strategy depends solely on rainfall patterns. This is no problem for lawns in some of the rainiest cities in the country like Astoria, OR or Syracuse, NY, which have precipitation about every other day.

When we look at the regional trends in lawn watering, we see that the states with the highest percentage of people who don't water the lawn are centralized in the Midwest down to the Deep South of Louisiana. 

5 States With Least Lawn Watering

(Percent of homeowners who don't water their lawn) 

  • Louisiana: 91.0%
  • Ohio: 88.2%
  • Arkansas: 85.5%
  • Illinois: 85.1%
  • Wisconsin: 82.9%

In contrast, the states that have the highest portion of homeowners watering their lawns are mostly out west in Big Sky Country along with New Jersey.

5 States With the Most Lawn Watering

(Percent of homeowners who water their lawn)

  • Wyoming: 77.6%
  • Idaho: 67.0%
  • Montana: 66.7%
  • Nevada: 51.0%
  • New Jersey: 49.5%

What Do the Experts Say About Watering Your Lawn?

How much water: An established lawn needs about one inch of water per week according to Cornell University and the Department of Agriculture.

When to water: The best time to run your sprinkler is in the early morning before 8:00 a.m. This helps you avoid losing water because of evaporation, and the grass will dry quickly once the sun rises.

How often to water: Rather than watering a little bit every day, it's best to water longer at infrequent intervals. Soak the lawn until the moisture reaches six to eight inches deep to encourage strong root development. 

How long to water: The length of time you should be watering will vary based on the flow rate of your irrigation system or sprinkler system, as well as the amount of water that's needed in addition to the rainfall. 

The type of grass matters: Certain types of grass seed are better suited to different climates. Bermuda grass is a popular warm-season grass, while Kentucky Bluegrass is a cool-season grass. Choosing the right variety matters a lot. A poorly suited variety that's not drought-resistant will need much more care and attention.

Use good mowing practices: By mowing your grass to a height of three inches and letting the clippings fall back into the lawn, you'll reduce evaporation and encourage root growth, helping the lawn need less water. 

Why You Should Not Overwater Your Lawn

Our data shows that the majority of people don't water their lawns. Instead, they rely on passing clouds to do the job for them. 

However, 22.2 percent of people are watering their lawns a few times per week to multiple times per day. That adds up to a lot of water!

Watering your lawn

Watering every day can harm your lawn, and here are a few key reasons not to overwater:

  1. Suffocates roots: By overwatering, you're drowning your lawn. When the soil is saturated with water, there's no available oxygen for the roots. Without the right mix of water and oxygen, photosynthesis will stop, and eventually, the plants will die.
  2. Stunts root growth: Watering too frequently can cause your lawn to develop a shallow root system. By letting the soil dry out, roots will start to reach down to access water. This results in healthier and more resilient grass.
  3. Conserve natural resources: By reducing lawn watering, you're helping to preserve water supplies and reduce electricity usage that runs water pumps.
  4. Contributes to groundwater pollution: Overwatering causes run-off, especially in sandy soils. Any fertilizer you added to your lawn is then added to stormwater systems, contributing to problems further down the line. 
  5. Soil and drainage issues: Overwatering also causes the compaction of your soil. As the lawn is repeatedly saturated, the soil particles will become more heavy and dense. Over time, this can change your soil's ability to absorb water. As a result, you could develop drainage issues in your yard where rainwater starts to flow towards your foundation. This can lead to foundation damage or can flood your basement or crawl space. 

wet basement

Excess water is not just a problem for your lawn. Excessive rain can damage your home's foundation. Learn more about how your home responds to water conditions, and get a free inspection from the country's leading foundation repair experts.