When is the Best Time to Water Your Lawn in Florida?

You may have read somewhere that it’s not advisable to water your lawn every day or that you should only water it once a week. But does this apply to your lawn as well? Remember that your location plays a big part in determining the best time to water your lawn, and Florida has its own environmental conditions to consider.

So instead of following general rules in taking care of your yard, it’s more logical to follow watering guidelines specifically geared to your own locale. Doing so will not only help you prevent molds and patching, but also can save you from having to deal with excessive water bills.

In this article, we’ll cover: 

  1. Use the Right Tools for Optimal Watering
  2. Adjust the Duration of Watering Time
  3. Stay Vigilant and Observant

Why is Watering Your Lawn Important?

Creating a beautiful lawn is not a set-and-forget kind of thing. Even if you have native plants, that doesn’t mean they can thrive on their own. The ecosystem in your yard might be teeming with life, but it can either flourish or wither, depending on your lawn maintenance.

Some of the direct benefits your turfgrass gets with proper watering include:

  • Better health which helps them resist diseases more effectively
  • Root systems can hold onto the soil more firmly
  • Soil moisture, at the right levels, can help promote growth

Of course, we can’t leave out the fact that well-watered grass shows a more beautiful light green color compared to dry ones, which are usually grayish blue.

Best Time to Water Your Florida Lawn

A sprinkler watering a lawn

Photo Credit: UBC Micrometeorology / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Timing is a very important factor to consider when watering your lawn. Regardless of your lawn size or the type of grass you have, you need to do this at the right time so as not to waste water and bring harm to your grass.

Go for the Early Morning Hours

The best time to water your lawn in Florida is during the early morning hours, preferably at dawn or around 5 a.m. – especially during summer. During this time, the temperature is cooler, which minimizes water loss. If you find it too early, you can adjust the watering a little later but not past 9 a.m.

Since the sun hasn’t been out for long, the water will not evaporate quickly, which gives the ground some time to absorb the water.

Abstain in the Afternoons

Afternoons are when the air temperature is at its hottest. Most people mistakenly think this is the best time to water because they usually relate the condition to themselves. Who wouldn’t want to refresh themselves with a cool drink in the afternoon or take a plunge in the pool when it’s hot? But the thing is, it’s not the same for plants.

Evaporation is at its peak during this time, which means the water gets burnt off fast, and the root zone will only get minimal water. Also, you’ll end up paying more for your water bills – including the water that has been wasted.

Never Water at Night

While it’s certain that evaporation is almost nil when the sun is not out in the sky, watering your lawn at night creates even greater drawbacks for your plants, depending on the weather conditions.

Cooler temperatures mean the water will remain on the grass blades the entire night, encouraging the growth and proliferation of fungi. Diseases like leaf spots can easily infect your lawn, making it unattractive. Even during warm and dry seasons, where Florida nights are hot and humid, diseases can still spread on your lawn if you let water sit on the grass overnight.

How Much Water Should Your Lawn Get?

The next important factor to consider in taking care of your lawn is the amount of water your lawn needs, and this will largely depend on the time of year.

In Florida, the climate is dry most of the time except for summer – when it’s quite hot and humid. June to October is usually the rainy season, and nature is a big help in keeping your lawn from drying up during this time.

This wet season is just part of the state’s warm weather period, which actually runs between April to October. During this time, you should water your lawn every two days or two to three times per week.

Florida’s cooler months, which fall between November to April, require that the lawn be watered only once a week. Doing so will not only help control the growth of fungus and weeds but also prepare your lawn for summertime. Instead of having a shallow root system, your grass will naturally develop deeper roots, which can help with its nourishment in summer.

Not all grasses have the same watering requirements, as some are drought-tolerant and require minimal watering, while others need more water, especially during dry spells. Here’s a table that shows how much water is needed for each specific grass type during each season in Florida (in inches per week):

Grass TypeSpringSummerFallWinter
Bahiagrass1 – 1.51.5 – 21 – 1.50.5 – 1
Bermudagrass1 – 1.51.5 – 21 – 1.5dormant
Carpetgrass1 – 1.51.5 – 21 – 1.50.5 – 1
Centipedegrass0.5 – 11 – 1.50.5 – 10.5 – 1
Seashore paspalum1 – 1.51.5 – 21 – 1.50.5 – 1
St. Augustinegrass1 – 1.51.5 – 21 – 1.5dormant
Zoysiagrass0.5 – 11 – 1.50.5 – 10.5 – 1

Note: These are just general guidelines, and the actual water needs of your lawn may vary based on factors such as soil type, amount of sun exposure, and local weather conditions.

Lawn Watering Tips

A lawn being watered using sprinklers

Photo Credit: Aqua Mechanical / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Here are some watering tips to help you keep your Florida lawn beautiful and to ensure you’re putting your water to good use.

1. Use the Right Tools for Optimal Watering

While you can always use your trusty garden hose for this task, it’s better to use a lawn sprinkler or have a lawn care professional install an irrigation system for your yard. Not only will it be more convenient for you, but it also could allow the sprinkler to automatically turn on in the wee hours of the morning.

A properly installed system could disperse enough water evenly so that you wouldn’t have to worry about puddles. If your county has licensed irrigation system installers, it’s always best to have them do the installation.

2. Adjust the Duration of Watering Time

Knowing how long you should be watering your lawn is also crucial, as it will help ensure there’s enough moisture reserved in the soil before the next watering schedule.

In general, you should set your sprinkler to water the area between 45 to 60 minutes so that the water is delivered deeply and evenly into the soil, which in turn helps encourage the development of a healthy root system. The goal is to deliver an inch of water which can be easily determined by using the tuna can test.

The tuna can test is a simple way to determine how much water your lawn is receiving from your sprinkler system. To perform this test:

  • Place several empty tuna cans (or any other shallow, flat-bottomed containers) around your lawn, spaced evenly apart.
  • Run your sprinkler system for 15-20 minutes, and turn it off.
  • Measure the depth of water in each tuna can using a measuring tape or ruler.
  • Next, calculate the average depth of water in the tuna cans by adding up the depth of water in each can and dividing by the number of cans.

So, if the average depth of water in the tuna cans is 1/4 inch after 20 minutes of watering, you’ll know that your sprinkler system is delivering 1/4 inch of water per 20 minutes.

Once you know how much water your sprinkler system is delivering, you can adjust the watering time and frequency to ensure that your lawn is getting the right amount of water.

3. Stay Vigilant and Observant

It’s still important to visually inspect your landscape frequently to help you identify problem areas. If you notice a bluish-gray discoloration or footprints on a specific area of your lawn, you need to adjust your sprinkler setup as this area is in need of watering.

Watering Restrictions in Florida

Water conservation is a critical matter in Florida, which is why the state has implemented watering restrictions to help conserve water resources. Here are the specific regulations by region:

North Florida

In North Florida, which includes cities such as Jacksonville and St. Augustine, you’ll need to follow water restrictions throughout the year.

If your home address ends in an odd number, you can water your lawn on Wednesdays and Saturdays. But if your address ends in an even number, your watering days are Thursdays and Sundays. Just don’t water between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on any day.

Central Florida

If you’re living in Central Florida, which includes Orlando and Tampa, you should be aware of these watering restrictions enforced year-round.

Homes with odd-numbered addresses can water on Wednesdays and Saturdays, while homes with even-numbered addresses can water on Thursdays and Sundays. Similar to North Florida, you shouldn’t water your lawn between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on any day.

During daylight saving time (the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November), you can water your lawn only once per week.

South Florida

Compared to other regions, South Florida has the strictest restriction due to water scarcity.

All homes, regardless of house number, can only water once per week on a designated day determined by the local water utility.

Keep in mind that these designated days may vary depending on your area, so it’s a good idea to check with your utility company to determine the specific day for your location. You also shouldn’t water your lawn between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on any day.

FAQ About the Best Time to Water Florida Lawns

Does DIY or hand watering use more water than sprinklers?

DIY or hand watering typically uses less water than sprinklers because it allows you to target specific areas and avoid overwatering. However, it can be more time-consuming and physically demanding compared to using a sprinkler system. The efficiency of hand watering also depends on the individual doing the watering and their watering techniques.
The better option would be to install sprinklers with a timer. You can set it to deliver a consistent amount of water for a specific duration, reducing water waste and promoting better soil absorption. Additionally, many modern sprinkler systems have features like rain sensors and smart controllers – allowing you to adjust the sprinkler’s watering schedule depending on the current weather condition, further reducing water usage.

Is it better if I water my lawn with a hose or sprinkler system?

Overall, a sprinkler system is a better option for watering your lawn compared to using a hose, as it offers the following benefits:
• Complies with regulations
• Helps you save time and effort
• You can program it to water at specific times and durations
• It can be equipped with moisture sensors to adjust the application and disperse enough water
However, using a hose can be a good option for small lawns or specific areas as long as you avoid overwatering or watering during the hottest times of the day.

How can I save water when I use a sprinkler to water my lawn?

To avoid wasting water (and even save water) when using a sprinkler to water your lawn, you can:
1. Water in the morning (before 10 a.m.) to help reduce water loss due to evaporation and give your grass enough time to dry before nightfall, which can reduce the risk of fungus and disease.
2. Adjust your sprinkler heads to water only the lawn, not the sidewalk, driveway, street, or other non-vegetated areas.
3. Use a timer so your sprinkler system will run for a shorter duration but more frequently. This way, the water has time to soak into the soil before running off.
4. Install a rain sensor, which can automatically turn off your sprinkler system when it’s raining or when the soil is already moist.
5. Check your sprinkler system for leaks, broken heads, or other issues that can waste water. Replace any damaged parts and adjust the settings if necessary.

Smart Watering is the Key to a Beautiful Lawn and Lower Water Bills

Maintaining a healthy lawn in Florida can be a challenge for homeowners, especially during the hot and dry season. Apart from proper fertilization and mowing, watering during the best time of day, using the optimal amount of water, and following these lawn watering tips can help keep your lawn looking green and lush all year.
Avoid wasting water but don’t let the Florida heat turn your lawn into a brown, lifeless eyesore. Whether you’re living in St. Augustine, Pensacola, Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, or anywhere in Florida, remember that taking the time to learn about your area’s specific guidelines can pay off in the long run.

So, what are you waiting for? Hire a lawn care pro today, and start giving your lawn the TLC it deserves.

Main Image Credit: Lawn Sprinkler Irrigation / Pixabay

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!