HOW MUCH WATER DOES A LAWN NEED?

The Best Technique for Watering a LawnBest Lawn Watering

Proper lawn watering is the most important aspect of organic tree and lawn care, yet it is the biggest frustration that homeowners face. Most lawn watering problems that we see in Boulder and Fort Collins area lawns are either over watering or poor sprinkler coverage.

As long as the sprinkler system's heads are adjusted properly, all the lawn watering problems can be fixed by following the lawn watering technique invented by Organo-Lawn called 1-2-3-2-1 Lawn Watering.

3 Steps to Proper Lawn Watering

Step 1: When is the Best Time of Day to Water a Lawn?

The ideal time to water a lawn is early in the morning before the sun comes up. It is best to have the sprinkler system programmed so the last zone finishes no later than 6:00 AM. If this is not feasible then the next best time to water the lawn is late evening. If the lawn is being watered deeply and infrequently then evening watering will not cause lawn fungus problems.

Step 2: Program Each Zone Time

Every Sprinkler System is Different: Every sprinkler system is at the mercy of how well it was designed and installed. The sprinkler zone time chart is a good place to start for how to water a lawn properly when programming your sprinkler clock. If you want the most accuracy, the best way to evaluate the system is to measure the output of the sprinkler system using rain gauges.

Deep Soak with Multiple Cycles: Many systems are set up to water shorter times but will turn on 3 or more times over the evening. This method of watering in short bursts is excellent because it allows the water to soak into the soil deeper. If the sprinkler system is set up with short bursts via multiple start times, take the total water times listed below and divide them by the number of cycles. I.e. The system is set up to perform 3 soak cycles per night. Take a south facing rotary style zone run time of 55 minutes / 3 = 18 minutes per soak cycle.

Rotary Style Sprinkler Heads

Rotary style heads are designed to water large areas of grass. They move back and forth very slowly and required longer watering times.


Rotary Style Head Zone Times

Full Sun or South Facing Aspects: 50-60 minutes total run time - approx 3/4 inch of water

Partial Sun or East / West Aspects: 40-50 minutes total run time - approx 1/2 inch of water

Full Shade or North Facing Aspects: 30-40 minutes total run time - approx 1/3 inch of water

Popup Style Sprinkler Heads

Popup style heads are designed to water smaller areas of grass. They are stationary and put down a lot of water in a short period of time. They require shorter watering times.


Popup Style Head Zone Times

Full Sun or South Facing Aspects: 18-20 minutes total run time - approx 3/4 inch of water

Partial Sun or East / West Aspects: 12-15 minutes total run time - approx 1/2 inch of water

Full Shade or North Facing Aspects: 6-10 minutes total run time - approx 1/3 inch of water

MP Rotator Style Sprinkler Heads

MP Rotator style heads are designed to water grass slowly. They have a pinwheel type action which allows the water to soak into the soil deeply. They require longer run times in order to water the lawn properly.


MP Rotator Style Head Zone Times

Full Sun or South Facing Aspects: 45-55 minutes total run time - approx 3/4 inch of water

Partial Sun or East / West Aspects: 35-45 minutes total run time - approx 1/2 inch of water

Full Shade or North Facing Aspects: 25-35 minutes total run time - approx 1/3 inch of water

Impact Style Sprinkler Heads

Impact style heads are designed to water large areas of grass. They move back and forth very slowly and required longer watering times to water the lawn deeply.


Impact Style Head Zone Times

Full Sun or South Facing Aspects: 45-60 minutes total run time - approx 3/4 inch of water

Partial Sun or East / West Aspects: 35-50 minutes total run time - approx 1/2 inch of water

Full Shade or North Facing Aspects: 20-35 minutes total run time - approx 1/3 inch of water

Micromist Style Sprinkler Heads

Micromist style heads are designed to water plants in rock and mulch bed areas. They spray a mist over plants and require medium run times to water deeply.


Micromist Style Zone Times

Full Sun or South Facing Aspects: 35-45 minutes total run time

Partial Sun or East / West Aspects: 25-35 minutes total run time

Full Shade or North Facing Aspects: 15-25 minutes total run time

Drip Irrigation System

The drip systems are designed to be run for 1 hour. The amount of water that comes out of the drip lines is not controlled via the clock but it should be controlled via the emitters.

Each emitter is rated by gallons per hour (GPH). Small plants require a 1/4 to 1/2 GPH emitter, shrubs require a 1 to 7 GPH emitter, and trees require a 10 to 35 GPH emitter installed. Therefore, the gallons per hour should not be controlled via the clock but via the emitters and the GPH rating.

***That being said, many sprinkler installers do not understand this concept so if you have a better time based on the emitters that were installed at your property we recommend that you use that time instead.***


Drip Irrigation Zone Times

Full Sun or South Facing Aspects: 60 minutes total run time

Partial Sun or East / West Aspects: 60 minutes total run time

Full Shade or North Facing Aspects: 60 minutes total run time

Step 3: How Many Day Per Week To Water a Lawn

The 1-2-3-2-1 Lawn Watering Technique

Program your clock according to the sprinkler zone times above and as the season's temperatures change you will add days as it gets hotter and take days away as it gets cooler. This technique is invented by Organo-Lawn and it is called the 1-2-3-2-1 lawn watering technique.

Do Not Change the Watering Times!

As the temperatures change during the seasons, it is better to add watering days to the clock rather than adding more run time to the clock. As the temperatures cool off in the fall, it is better to reduce the watering days rather than taking time off the clock. Never change the times of the sprinkler system zones, unless there is a drastic change in the amount of sun exposure a zone is receiving. It is very bad practice to add time or take time away during the summer. We want to water the lawn deeply and we want the soil to dry out between lawn watering. Deep and infrequent lawn water will penetrate the soil 10-15 inches deep and the grass roots will dig after that water as the soil at the surface dries out.

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1 Day Per Week Watering - Early Spring


Sprinkler Startup through Middle of May

When daytime high temperatures average below 70°F: Water the lawn one day per week if it is cool and it is raining occasionally. One day per week lawn watering is typically between April to early May but every year is slightly different. (I.e. Water Mondays)

2 Day Per Week Watering - Late Spring


Middle of May - Early June

When Colorado's daytime high temperatures average between 70°F and 85°F water the lawn two days a week This is typically between the middle of May through early June. (I.e. water Monday and Fridays)

Lawn Watering Colorado
Fort Collins Lawn Services

3 Day Per Week Watering - Summer


Middle of June - Middle of August

When Colorado's daytime high temperatures average above 85°F: Water the lawn no more than 3 days per week. This is typically is between mid or late June through mid or late August. (I.e. Water Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)

2 Day Per Week Watering - Early Fall


Middle of August - Late September

When Colorado's daytime high temperatures average between 70°F and 85°F water the lawn two days a week This is typically between the middle of August through the middle of September. (I.e. water Monday and Fridays)

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Loveland Lawn Service

1 Day Per Week Watering - Fall


Late September - Sprinkler Blowout

When Colorado's daytime high temperatures average below 70°F: Water the lawn one day per week if it is cool and it is raining occasionally. One day per week watering is typically between the middle of September until the system is winterized for the season. (I.e. Water Mondays)



What is the 1-2-3-2-1 Lawn Watering Technique?

Organo-Lawn is your local sprinkler expert. Sometimes it takes a professional to get the sprinkler system programmed properly. Organo-Lawn is glad to assist with our professional sprinkler services and expert lawn care services.

Boulder (303) 499-2000 or Fort Collins (970) 225-9425


FAQ - Lawn Watering

How much water does my sprinkler system put out per watering?

Every sprinkler system is different and the only way to know the exact output of a sprinkler system is to measure the water with a rain gauge. If you are unsure of coverage or if you are watering by hand, you can measure the output by putting out a flat-bottomed, flat-sided container. You will want to be watering about ½ - ¾ of an inch of water per cycle. The ideal way to water a lawn is deeply and infrequently according to the 1-2-3-2-1 technique.

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1-2-3-2-1 Lawn Watering Boulder