Watering your lawn

Generally, lawns need about one inch of water per week, which is best done in one or two applications, including rainfall. Install a simple rain gauge in your yard to measure rainfall and irrigation each week. The best time to water is from 4 am to 8 am. This allows the grass to dry in the morning sun, reducing the chance of turf disease.

Short, daily irrigation is unnecessary, too light and too shallow to support deep grass roots.

Grass variety pro tip: Fine fescues are among the most drought tolerant varieties of lawn grass and will bounce back from dry spells faster than other grass types. Letting fine fescues grow taller helps preserve soil moisture.

If it rains 3 inches this week and it does not rain next week, when should I water my lawn?

Water when the soil below the surface (in the root zone) has dried out. This will happen quickly in hot dry weather, but may not be an issue in cooler spring and fall. 

Rain measurement pro tips

  • The Northeast Regional Climate Center has a Lawn Watering Tool. Plug in your zip code and when the grass was last watered and it will tell you how much to apply that day.
  • Do you want to know how much rain your area has received? Check the Turf Industry ForeCast for rainfall over the last seven days. It will even tell you how long you should run your sprinkler (once you let it know how much water your sprinkler applies in an hour - calculation instructions are included).

My lawn always dies in the summer heat. What should I do?

First, grasses that grow in NY will naturally go into a period of dormancy, not death, when hot dry weather sets in. The roots and crown of the plants are still alive and can remain dormant for 6 weeks without trouble.

Dormant Lawn Pro Tips

  • Letting your lawn go dormant is a sustainable practice that conserves water.
  • Once rainfall returns, grass will begin to grow again.
  • Do not fertilize a dormant lawn or you risk killing it.