PROPER LAWN WATERING - 1, 2, 3, 2, 1 TECHNIQUE

How To Water a Lawn Properly in Colorado


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

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




3 Easy to Follow Steps on How to Properly Water a Lawn:


Step 1: What Is the Best Time of Day to Water The Lawn?

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

Step 2: How Long To Program Each Zone of the Sprinkler System:



Full Sun (South Facing Aspects)


Pop ups (Stationary Fan Type)

18 Min


Impact Heads, Hunter, or Rotary (Spray a Long Stream and Move Back and Forth)
55 Min


Pinwheel Nozzles (On Pop Up Style Heads but Spray Little Streams that Move Around)
45 Min


Drip and Micromist Time

Drip (Read Below)*
60 Min*


Micromist Sprayers
40 Min


Normal (East / West Aspects)


Pop ups (Stationary Fan Type)

15 Min


Impact Heads, Hunter, or Rotary (Spray a Long Stream and Move Back and Forth)
45 Min


Pinwheel Nozzles (On Pop Up Style Heads but Spray Little Streams that Move Around)
35 Min


Drip and Micromist Times

Drip (Read Below)*
60 Min*


Micromist Sprayers
30 Min

North Facing or Full Shade

(North Sides or Under Trees)


Pop ups (Stationary Fan Type)

10 Min


Impact Heads, Hunter, or Rotary (Spray a Long Stream and Move Back and Forth)
35 Min


Pinwheel Nozzles (On Pop Up Style Heads but Spray Little Streams that Move Around)
25 Min


Drip and Micromist Time

Drip (Read Below)*
60 Min*


Micromist Sprayers
20 Min

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 general area to start for how to water a lawn and when programming your sprinkler clock. If you want the best accuracy the best way to evaluate the system is to measure the output of the sprinkler system using rain gauges.

Drip System Note: 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. If installed properly each emitter is installed based upon how many gallons of water the plant it is watering will need. Each emitter is rated on a gallons per hour (GPH). This means if you have a small plant a 1/4 GPH or 1/2 GPH emitter should have been installed. Bushes tend to have a 1 GPH to 7 GPH emitter installed. If you have a large tree that needs more water it could have up to a 25 or 35 GPH Emitter installed. Therefore the gallons per hour are typically not controlled via the clock; they are controlled via the emitters and the GPH.

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 we recommend that you use that time instead.

Sprinkler Head Styles

Click on the image below to enlarge

Rotary or Hunter Style Sprinkler Head

Rotary style sprinkler heads are designed to water larger areas of the lawn, but because they are watering a larger area they need more time compared to popups heads.

Popup Style Head

Popup style sprinkler heads are designed to water small area and their water output is typically very fast compared to pinwheel heads or rotary style heads.

Pinwheel Style Head

Pinwheel style sprinkler heads are often confusing to homeowners and sprinkler technicians. They are designed to put a little amount of water down and therefore need to be programmed for longer times than most people think.

Impact Sprinkler Head

Impact sprinkler heads often get clogged with leaves and debris causing them to malfunction. They are similar to Rotary or Hunter style sprinkler heads.



Step3: How Many Days Per Week Should The Lawn Be Watered?


1, 2, 3, 2, 1 Lawn Watering Technique:


Program your sprinkler clock according to the Sprinkler Zone Time Chart above and as the season's temperatures change, instead of adding time and reducing time - add days and take days away. This technique is called the 1, 2, 3, 2, 1 technique.

Very Important Note: Never change the times of the sprinkler zones. It is a very bad practice to add time or take time away. The reason behind this is because we want to water the lawn deeply and then we want it to dry out between lawn watering. Deep 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.


  • EARLY SPRING - Water 1 Day Per Week (Sprinkler Startup - Middle of May)
    • When daytime high temperatures average below 70°F: Water 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)
  • SPRING - Water 2 Days Per Week (Middle of May - Middle of June)
    • When daytime high temperatures average between 70°F and 85°F water two days a week This is typically between the middle of May through early June. (I.e. water Monday and Fridays)
  • SUMMER - Water 3 Days Per Week (Middle of June - Middle of August)
    • When daytime high temperatures average above 85°F: Water 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)
  • FALL - Water 2 Days Per Week (Middle of August- Middle of September)
    • When daytime high temperatures average between 70°F and 85°F water two days a week This is typically between the middle of August through the middle of September. (I.e. water Monday and Fridays)
  • LATE FALL - Water 1 Day Per Week (Middle of September - Sprinkler Blowout)
    • When daytime high temperatures average below 70°F: Water 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)

If possible try not to water the day of nor the day after of the lawn being mowed. I.e. if you mow the lawn on Fridays then don't water the lawn on Friday morning nor Saturday morning.


Click Here for a PDF version of Organo-Lawn's 1,2,3,2,1 proper lawn watering technique.

Proper Lawn Watering Fort Collins



Monthly Lawn Watering Schedule for Colorado lawns


January through Mid April
System should be shut off


Mid April through Mid May
Sprinkler Startup Water 1 Day per week


Mid May through Mid June
Water 2 Days per week


Mid June through Mid August
Water 3 Days per week


Mid August through Late September
Water 2 Days per week


Late September through Mid to late October
Water 1 Day per week


October
Sprinkler Blowout


Sprinkler Blowout through December
System should be off

Note: Each year is different but the calendar above is a good general time of year for how to water a lawn and when things need to be adjusted or services need to be performed on the sprinkler system. This sprinkler system calendar is designed for lawns in Colorado, especially for lawns in the Front Range cities like Boulder and Fort Collins.

*Sprinkler system startups depend on the temperatures outside and the amount of natural precipitation.

**Sprinkler system blowouts generally occur from October 10th-Late October; however, every year has different temperatures so watch the weather closely.


Proper Lawn Watering Boulder

This is a Boulder lawn and is on the 1,2,3,2,1 lawn watering technique and an Organo-Lawn full season program.


Click here for a PDF version of Organo-Lawn's 1,2,3,2,1 proper lawn watering technique.



FAQ - How to Properly Water a Lawn

Can I water my lawn at night?

  • Ideally it is best to time the sprinkler system to water in the early morning, but as long as you are following the watering schedule of deeply and infrequently watering at night will not cause fungus problems.

How to water a lawn by hand?

  • You will want to make sure you are watering deeply and following the 1, 2, 3, 2, 1 technique. You will want to be watering about ½ - ¾ of an inch per session, which you can measure by using a rain gauge or by putting out a flat bottomed flat sided container.

Lawn Care Services FAQ