Summer Lawns: How Often Should You Water?

Conserve Water While Maintaining Your Yard's Grass

Sprinkler on yard
••• itsabreeze Photography / Getty Images

People have grass lawns in Phoenix. Right or wrong, it is reality. In the desert, where the Greater Phoenix area is located, we actually have two seasons for grass, winter and summer. In the summer, because of our extreme temperatures, it is especially important to know how to properly water your lawn in order to accomplish two objectives: (1) maintaining a nice, healthy lawn, while (2) conserving water.

It may be tempting to water your lawn every day in the hottest part of the summer, but that really isn't necessary. Water - Use It Wisely offers great information to assist us with knowing how much to water the grass and how often.

Efficient Lawn Watering in Arizona's Desert

Know how much water your grass needs.

  • Your grass will be healthiest if the roots of the grass receive water every time you water.
  • Watering to a depth of 10 inches is best. To accomplish that, apply about 3/4 inch of water during each watering session.
  • You can use a soil probe, or a long screwdriver to test the soil. About one hour after you have watered, push in the soil probe as far as it will go in easily. Did it go in 10 inches? If not, you'll need to water longer until it does.

Know how much water your sprinkler system applies.

  • Most pop-up sprinklers apply about 4/10th inches of water for every 15 minutes. Impact sprinklers only apply about half that amount.
  • You (and the kids) can perform the can test to see how much water your system is applying. Take 6 or more flat bottomed cans, like tuna or cat food cans. Place them around your lawn. Turn on the sprinklers for 15 minutes. Measure the depth of the water in each can. Use decimals for easier addition (1/4 inch = .25, for example). Add them all together and then divide by the number of cans. That will give you the average watering depth.
  • If you see variations in the depth that are larger than a 1/4 inch, you probably need to adjust some of the sprinklers or repair clogged sprinkler heads.
  • Divide .75 inches (that's the 3/4 inches necessary for a health lawn) by the number of inches you measured as your average. Then, multiply your result times 15 minutes to find out how long you should be watering your grass. Here's a handy worksheet and instruction guide from University of Arizona.

Match the system output to your lawn's needs.

  • Water an hour or two before sunrise, so the water won't evaporate as quickly.
  • Once you know your run time, make adjustments based on short term weather changes
  • if the ground is mushy, or mushrooms or fungus grows, the lawn is getting too much water.
  • regularly check your sprinkler heads to make sure that water is coming out, and is directed to the right area.
  • don't water when it's windy
  • mow regularly for a healthy lawn.

Next page >> How Long Should I Water My Grass?

Now that you know how long to water your grass, you need to know how often to water it! These watering intervals are based on average temperatures in the Phoenix area. You might need to make adjustments for unseasonably warm or cold weather, or for windy days.

Spring

  • March
    Bermuda grass: water every 14 days.
    Rye grass: water every 7 days.
  • April
    Bermuda grass: water every 7 days.
    Rye grass: water every 4 days.

    Summer

    • May
      Bermuda grass: water every 4 days.
      Rye grass: water every 3 days.
    • June
      Bermuda grass: water every 3 days.
      Rye grass: none (grass dies in summer)
    • July
      Bermuda grass: water every 3 days.
      Rye grass: none (grass dies in summer)
    • August
      Bermuda grass: water every 4 days.
      Rye grass: none (grass dies in summer)
    • September
      Bermuda grass: water every 4 days.
      Rye grass: none (grass dies in summer)

    Fall

    • October
      Bermuda grass: water every 6 days.
      Rye grass: water every 3 days.
    • November
      Bermuda grass: water every 14 days.
      Rye grass: water every 10 days.

    Winter

    Winter grass is different than summer grass in the desert!

    • December
      Bermuda grass: water every 30 days.
      Rye grass: water every 14 days.
    • January
      Bermuda grass: water every 30 days.
      Rye grass: water every 14 days.
    • February
      Bermuda grass: water every 21 days.
      Rye grass: water every 10 days.

    You can see the entire Water - Use It Wisely Phoenix Lawn Watering Guide online.

    You can also access this handy Monthly Water Conservation Planner and sign up for a monthly newsletter containing water conservation tips and reminders.

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    From the Water - Use It Wisely website:
    "The Water - Use It Wisely campaign was launched in 1999 to promote an ongoing water conservation ethic among Arizona's rapidly growing population.

    Partners include the cities of Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Peoria, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Avondale, Surprise, Goodyear, Safford, Prescott Valley and Bullhead City. Additional partners include the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, Water Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona, Global Water Resources, Arizona-American Water Company, Central Arizona Project, Bureau of Reclamation, Lowe’s and SRP."

    Previous page >> How Much Water Does My Lawn Need?