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How Long Should You Water Your Lawn?

sprinkler guages

Most people (and I’m most people too) just guess how long to leave their sprinkler in one place, or how many minutes to set their automatic sprinkler zones for. 10 minutes per zone? 45 minutes? You don’t really know, and neither did I, I had just set them for 12 minutes per zone and 3 start times during the early morning of my watering day, and hoped that was good enough. I did see water reaching all areas, but I really didn’t know if it was enough or too much. Texas A&M recommends applying 1″ of water every 7 to 10 days during the active growing season, and they recommend splitting the watering into multiple applications during the same morning, so it can soak in rather than start to build up and run off (known as the cycle and soak method). 

So after years of knowing I should do this, I finally ordered a 10 pack of sprinkler gauges, 1 1/2″ capacity, for under $20. I placed one in each of my automatic sprinkler zones to measure how much water the areas are actually getting. Now I know most of my zones need 15 minutes per cycle, one needs 10 minutes, and one needs 20 minutes. It really does vary, depending on how many sprinkler heads are on a valve, and how much pipe the water has to run through before it gets to that valve. And the same thing applies to a hose and sprinkler set up!

– James Gill

Reader Interactions


  1. Corinna L Rittgers says

    I live in Flour Bluff and have St Augustine Lawn. The sand does not retain moister so I have been placing soaker hoses in various area of my lawn and it has dead spots that the water doesn’t get to. The weeds are thriving. So I am pulling as many as my body will allow. I have very young puppies that eat the grass so I cannot put any weed killer down. (When the lawn was watered very well the weeds were not a problem) I’m not sure what else that I can do.

    • Jesse Jenkins says

      Hi Corinna – try using a pulsating sprinkler to get better coverage and better saturation. We like pulsating sprinklers because the water droplets are larger and because you can adjust the height and coverage to your needs. And you’re right, focus on getting the lawn healthy rather than controlling weeds. Keeping the weeds mowed down helps to keep them from re-seeding. Water well now, then fertilize in September with organic Medina Growin’ Green.

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