Drench or a quick soak? How long to spend watering a lawn

A woman waters a lawn and flowerbed with a hosepipe
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The question of how long to spend watering a lawn is at the forefront of our minds as temperatures soar. Watering helps maintain a lush and green lawn, but knowing how long to water your lawn for is dependent on several factors.

Investing in the best water butts to collect and reuse rainwater will ensure a sustainable supply of water throughout summer. But researching the best time of day to water your lawn and knowing what type of grass you have is also key to keeping your lawn healthy in the heat. 

We asked two lawn care experts to give us the lowdown on how long we should spend hydrating our gardens.  

How long to spend watering a lawn

"Each lawn is different, different location, different lawn type, different grass species," says David Hedges Gower, Chairman of Lawn Association. "So what works for one lawn may not work for another, and this also applies when it comes to watering it."

But how can you tell a lawn needs watering and does it even need watering at all? "We think a dry looking lawn colour supposedly equals bad health, it doesn’t," David explains. "Grass is quite used to shutting down during very hot weather and is so resilient it will bounce right back after a few days of good rain."

"To help your lawn deal with the various seasons here, native grasses are of the utmost benefit. Our UK fescues and bents are a much more sustainable way to go when planning lawns in this country."

"You must decide if watering is really a necessity at all, as native grasses will come back after a dry period. And don’t be fooled to think that green and stripey is healthy and brown and dry is unhealthy. Grass is tough and will surprise you even after a heatwave!"

Peter Chaloner from Cobra Lawnmowers adds, "An infrequent yet heavy dose of water is recommended, as it’s one of the most effective ways of stimulating stronger grass growth - so give it a good dose every 10 days or so!”

A hosepipe watering a lawn

An infrequent yet heavy dose of water is recommended (Image credit: Getty Images)

What time of day should you water your lawn? 

In addition to giving your lawn the right amount of water, selecting the best time to water grass can play a part in how effective your efforts are. 

During summer you may find yourself wondering ‘does watering grass in the sun burn it?’. Thankfully, the answer to this question is no. Your lawn will not be scorched by sunlight because it's wet. However, watering in full sun is not an efficient way to water your grass, as most of the moisture will evaporate before it can benefit your garden.

'To encourage strong, vigorous growth, water your lawn early in the morning when heat is at a minimum,' recommends Peter Chaloner. 'This will reduce the amount of evaporation and allow water to penetrate deeper into the root.'

So, is watering the lawn at night a bad idea? According to the Lawn Association, it's best to water your lawn at night during periods of extreme heat. 'Grass only grows during the cooler evening climate – when it’s watered – as the plant often shuts down during the heat.'

Sprinklers watering a grass lawn

Too much watering can have a negative impact on your lawn.  (Image credit: Getty)

What happens if I water the lawn for too long?

Too much water can have several negative effects on your lawn, beyond the obvious waste of precious resources. Overwatering encourages weed growth and limits gas exchange when the soil remains saturated. It can also promote shallow root growth, making your lawn vulnerable to drought and disease. 

Conversely, under-watering can also weaken your lawn’s resilience to pests and disease, and can result in dry brittle grass. So, striking the right balance between over and under-watering is crucial for maintaining a healthy lawn. 

a water butt and watering can in a garden

The green basics rainbarrel by Elho is made with recycled plastic using wind energy and is 100% recyclable. (Image credit: Elho)

The best tools for watering the lawn 

There are plenty of watering tools to help you keep your lawn hydrated without wasting precious water. For starters, an environmentally friendly water butt like the green basics rain barrel by Elho will allow you to collect and reuse rainwater. 

An in-ground sprinkler system, such as the Rain Bird 32ETI Automatic Sprinkler System Kit from Amazon, will make light work of your watering tasks. These kits can be fitted in an afternoon and are compatible with standard outdoor faucets. 

For a completely hands-off approach install a remote timer like the HydroSure Dual Outlet Water Tap Timer. These smart garden tools can be set up in under 5 minutes and can automate your watering tasks. 

Gabriella Dyson
Assistant Editor

Gabriella is Homebuilding & Renovating's Assistant Editor. She is a DIY enthusiast and a lover of all things interior design. She’s spent the past decade crafting copy for regional publications, award-winning architects, and leading UK homeware brands. 

She has a particular passion for historic buildings and listed properties, and she is currently in the process of renovating a Grade II-listed Victorian coach house in the West Country. At Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine, Gabriella is responsible for curating the magazine's home case studies and regularly contributes to the Homebuilding website.