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Residential Lawn Watering Guide



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Most of us use potable drinking water to irrigate our lawns, flowers and other landscape plants. On average, we use about two-thirds of our water out doors, most of which goes on landscapes. As much as one-half of this water use is wasted through incorrect watering.

If you can answer these questions, you are probably watering correctly.

1. Do you know how much water you apply each time you irrigate your lawn?
2. Are you applying the water to your lawn evenly?
3. Do you know when your lawn needs water?

If you cannot answer these questions, the following three simple steps will help you find the answers and put you on the path to irrigate your lawn correctly.

STEP 1. Check Distribution Uniformity (Pattern) of Your Sprinklers
Remember, not all sprinklers apply the same amount of water. This is true of automatic, manual, or hose systems. To check the distribution pattern, you will need at least 4 containers. Straight-sided containers like soup cans or milk cartons are great, but shallow tuna cans are too shallow and water splashes out. You may also use special water measuring cups (available from local Utah State University Extension Offices).

A) Place the 4 or more containers in a grid pattern over the lawn area to be checked.

B) Run your sprinklers for a period of time (at least 10 minutes) over the lawn. If you have overlapping sprinklers that run at different times, run both sets of sprinklers. Check each container and see if the amount of water in each is about the same. Make a note of those containers (areas) that have more or less water than average. Try the following suggestions to apply water more evenly:

  • Set the sprinklers to run for longer or shorter periods of time if they are on different valves.
  • Check and repair clogged, damaged, or broken sprinkler heads. Also look for sprinklers that may be set into the ground too deeply or tilted. Sprinklers should be vertical and should not be obstructed by surrounding grass, plants, or other objects.
  • Sprinklers running on the same line or valve should be the same model and have the right nozzle to cover the desired area.

C) After making adjustments, empty the containers and try the test again. Continue to make adjustments and run the test until the system is applying water as evenly as possible.

STEP 2. Determine how long you should run your sprinklers to apply the right amount of water
Most areas of Utah have average high temperatures of 90° - 100° F. The suggested irrigation application is ½ inch of water (and 5/8 inch in Southern Utah) each irrigation.

A) In your 4 containers, measure and mark a ½ inch depth. Note that the ½ inch line on the special water measuring cups is just above the measured markings on the side.

B) Turn on your sprinklers and time how long it takes for water to reach the marks in each container. With overlapping sets of sprinklers, split the run time equally between both sets of sprinklers. Figure the average run time for all containers.

C) It is recommended that you divide these run times into three or more soak cycles. Irrigate for three or more cycles allowing 1-hour in between each cycle. This will especially help those landscapes on clay soils, preventing water from running off the lawn. Also, those landacapes on sandy soils will be able to irrigate more efficiently by cycling your run times

Example: If your sprinklers take 21 minutes to apply ½ inch of water, you would use three 7-minute cycles. Run your sprinklers for 7 minutes each cycle and wait one hour in between each cycle.

STEP 3. Set Your Watering Schedule
Now that you know how long to water each time you irrigate, you need to know how often to irrigate. The following schedule shows how often to irrigate during the growing season. This is a general guide based on average weather conditions. For a weekly lawn watering guide, click on the Utah weekly lawn watering guide. Find the county you live in and based on the color, see how many times you should water that week. This is a much better and efficient way to water.

Irrigation Schedule - Northern Utah
Month Interval
Startup until April 30 Once every 6 days
May Once every 4 days
June Once every 3 days
July Once every 3 days
August Once every 3 days
September Once every 6 days
October 1 to Shutdown Once every 10 days

Irrigation Schedule - Southern Utah
Month Interval
Startup until March 31 Once every 8 days
April Once every 5 days
May Once every 4 days
June Once every 3 days
July Once every 3 days
August Once every 3 days
September Once every 5 days
October Once every 7 days
November 1 to Shutdown Once every 10 days

This schedule is based upon average or normal weather conditions. Unusual warm conditions may
require an occasional irrigation a day earlier than scheduled. Rain storms or cool periods may allow
postponing or skipping an irrigation.

By following the above suggestions, you will be applying the amount of water required by the lawn. You will also use about half of the water the average Utah homeowner uses.


For an average homeowner, each time we irrigate of our landscapes we use about 3,000 gallons. By using the weekly lawn watering guide and reducing the number of times you water your landscape and/or not watering after rain events can save you that amount of water each time. That is the same amount of water you will use in about 1,875 toilet flushes! At current average water rates it will save you about $5 each time you donít water your landscape

Every minute counts!

For additional tips on how to irrigate more efficiently, contact you water supplier, local Utah State University Extension> Horticulture Specialist, or one of the following organizations:

Center for Water Efficient Landscaping
Utah Irrigation Association

Central Utah Water Conservancy District

Utah Nursery & Landscape Association

Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District

Utah State University Extension

Metropolitan water District of Salt Lake and Sandy
Utah Water Conservation Forum
Salt Lake City Public Utilities
Washington County Water Conservancy District
US Bureau of Reclamation
Weber Basin Water Conservancy District
Utah Division of Water Resources