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Watering Guide

The Ultimate Summer Lawn Watering Guide

Vacation season is here!  Summer brings fun but it brings heat, humidity, and drought that can stress your lawn. That’s why we’ve created the Ultimate Summer Lawn Watering Guide:

Know the Type of Lawn You Have

Not all lawns demand the same type of attention as they can be composed of different types of grass. Here in Northern Virginia, over 90% of lawns are cool-season fescues and bluegrass:

  • Warm-season grasses: They grow better in warmer climates and thrive in hot summers.
  • Cool-season grasses: They grow better in cooler climates and love spring and fall weather.

    Knowing the type of grass you have helps determine how to properly water it.

How To Properly Water Your Lawn in the Summer

Once you’ve identified the type of grass on your lawn, you can determine how often it should be watered. Here are some things to remember when watering your lawn.

  • How much: Cool-season grasses need 1.5 inches of water per week in order to thrive in the summer. When the temperatures are 90 degrees and below, we recommend watering three times a week, 15-20 minutes per area. When the temperature is over 90 degrees, we recommend watering four times a week, 15-20 minutes per area.
  • When to water: The best time to water your lawn is in the morning (around 5 am to 8 am). The next best time to water if the morning doesn’t work for you is late afternoon. Try to avoid watering at night as that can encourage fungal diseases to develop on the lawn. Watering in the morning gives the water more time to soak into the soil, which is useful to the lawn throughout the day because it helps the grass stay cooler during the hottest parts of the day. Too much heat stress isn’t good for the grass.
  • Stay Consistent: Make your best attempt to water your lawn around the same time on the days that you are watering. Consistency is key, Plants thrive on consistency. So do the best you can to remain on a consistent watering cycle.

Measuring Rain Water

Use a tuna can or cat food can to measure how much water your lawn is getting from rain.


Signs of Underwatering:

  • Dry patches: A lawn without the proper amount of water develops patches of straw-colored grass.
  • Visible footprints on your turf: If your turf is not easily springing back after walking on it, that’s a sign of underwatering.
  • Stunted growth: When you find yourself not having to mow as much it means your grass isn’t growing.
  • Shallow roots: Shallow roots make the grass even more susceptible to heat and water stress. Dig a small patch of lawn to see how long the roots are. They should be about four or more inches deep.
  • Dry soil: To test if your lawn is receiving enough water, try puncturing the soil with a long-blade screwdriver. If the blade goes at least three inches deep, that’s a good sign. If it doesn’t, it may mean that your soil is hard and dry and needs moisture.
  • Wilting: Turf grass will wilt if it’s not watered enough. That’s because most plants need to have a proper amount of water to stand upright.

How To Treat a Stressed Lawn

Oftentimes, we try to save our lawn from the heat of the summer temperatures by watering more. When in reality, if you’re watering in a consistent cycle for the type of grass you have, it’s likely already getting just the amount of water it needs. So, here are some things to save your lawn from the stress it may have from over and under-watering or avoiding the stress altogether.

Treating an Underwatered Lawn

  • Apply consistent, even watering to your lawn. You want it to get enough water to penetrate deep into the roots of your soil.
  • Stay on a consistent watering schedule. Watering your lawn on the same days at the same times each week. For example, Monday, Wednesday & Friday at 6:30 am.
  • Fertilize your lawn regularly, but make sure not to fertilize too much.
  • Mow your lawn on a regular schedule.


Important Reminders

Lastly, here are just a few simple reminders when it comes to watering your lawn.

Remember to check the soil first.

Since you can’t always rely on the surface to know if there’s enough moisture, check the ground itself to ensure it’s penetrating into the roots.

Learn the type of grass you have

In order to know how much water your lawn needs you need to know what type of grass you have. Generally, a lawn needs about one to one and a half inches of water each week. That could mean watering two or three times a week to avoid excessive runoff. You could also place empty small-opened tuna cans on your lawn during the watering. When the can is filled halfway, that means your lawn has also gotten ½” of water.

Water at the best time of day.

It takes time for water to soak in unless you water during the heat of the day. Generally, it can take an hour just for ¼” of water to soak in. So, adjust your watering schedule as needed and water during the best times of the day. Watering during the most-heated time of the day can cause the ground to soak up 20-25% of the water. That means it didn’t get as much water as you thought. Try to water early in the morning if possible. Try to avoid the night altogether.

Use a rain sensor if possible.

For those of you who have an irrigation system, this will alleviate having to adjust your system manually if it rains. You don’t have to water the lawn when it rains. So, to avoid having to manually adjust, use a rain sensor to monitor the weather and regulate when your system needs to be on.


While many homeowners feel watering the lawn is all about keeping the lawn watered, it requires more than that. It requires knowing the type of grass you have and understanding what it needs for it to grow. Everyone wants a beautifully crafted lawn, but that’s only possible when properly cared for, and overwatering or underwatering will not get you that perfect lawn.

When you have questions or need help, contact us. We’re only a click away.

Lawn Care Fairfax, VA