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Whether you’ve got acreage or a small backyard, you’ll know regular watering is key to maintaining a happy and healthy lawn.

But every lawn owner asks the question: how often to water the lawn?

Several factors go into lawn watering, from soil type to weather. Moreover, different lawn types have different water requirements.

A general rule for how often to water your lawn in Australia is 1-3 times a week during warm seasons (especially summer) and every 1-2 weeks in cool seasons.

Water early in the morning (before 9:00 AM) for about 30 minutes.

However, keep track of soil moisture to ensure you’re not overwatering, especially for lawn varieties that are more drought-tolerant.

Proper watering will help your lawn stay green, happy, and healthy. So here’s the ultimate guide for Watering Lawns in Australia 101.


How Often to Water the Lawn in Australia?

watering the lawn with sprinkler

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to “how often to water your lawn” since it depends on several factors – but the short answer is: only when your lawn needs it.

Things like hot weather, natural rainfall, and even water restrictions can affect the frequency of watering.


Factors that affect lawn watering

There are several factors to consider before you break out the hose. 

If you want to water the lawn properly, you’ll have to take into account:

  • Lawn age – is it a new lawn, or an established lawn?
  • Soil type – do you have free-draining sandy soil or heavy clay soil?
  • Weather – is it the rainy season, or summertime? Is it windy? Is your grass under full sun?
  • Grass type – do you have warm-season or cool-season grasses, and are they drought-tolerant?
  • Water availability – are there local water restrictions, or regulations on water consumption?
  • General lawn health – is your lawn in good condition, or are there issues (e.g. bare patches or thatch build-up)?

How you water the lawn also matters. 

Do you have automated watering, such as a sprinkler or irrigation system? Or are you using a good old-fashioned garden hose?


Signs your lawn needs watering

drying grass

In general, if you maintain a good watering schedule year-round, any lawn variety will stay lush and green.

However, weather and ground conditions can be a bit unpredictable. 

Common signs of underwatering for most lawn types include:

  • Yellowing grass
  • Weed invasion
  • Stunted grass growth
  • Dry, brittle, or dying grass
  • Footprints (grass not bouncing back)
  • Dry and/or discoloured roots (they should be white)

If you’ve just laid new turf, some discolouration around the edges is normal since these dry out more quickly and suffer more stress. Watering will make them green and lush in no time.

Some grasses may also go through a period of dormancy. They’ll look brown or dry, but so long as the root system is healthy, your grass will bounce back when it’s ready!


How often to water new lawns

A freshly laid or newly seeded lawn needs more watering as the root system is still establishing itself.

You should water a new lawn as soon as it’s been laid, seeded, or overseeded. Thoroughly soak the soil, then lightly water once a day afterwards to keep the top 5cm moist but not waterlogged.

If daytime temperatures go over 30ºC (86ºF), you may need to water twice a day. Check the top layer of soil to see if it’s dried out.

In cooler or rainy months, you can water less frequently.

Do a simple tug test to check if your lawn has established itself. Lightly tug at a small clump of grass – if you feel resistance, then your lawn’s roots have taken hold.


How often to water warm-season lawns

autumn in Australia

Many lawns in Australia have warm-season grasses, such as Kikuyu, couch, Zoysia, and buffalo.

Warm-season lawns require minimal watering, as they are more drought-tolerant. During autumn, winter, and early spring (April to September), your lawn can subsist on natural rainfall as grass growth is slow.

Still, it’s good to keep an eye on your lawn and see if it’s drying out!

From mid-spring through summer (October to March), it’s best to water every 1-2 weeks. Do a deep soak when watering your lawn – you’ll know you’re good if the ground feels wet beneath the surface.


How often to water cool-season lawns

Cool-season grasses like tall fescue, ryegrass, and bluegrass require more water – especially during the summer months. They are less drought-tolerant and are sensitive to hot weather.

If you have a cool-season lawn, it’ll likely need daily watering. Automated irrigation systems will help you stay on top of your watering schedule.


How Long Should You Water Your Lawn For?

It’s best to water your lawn for 30 minutes, around 1-3 times a week. But don’t be afraid to experiment to find the schedule that’s best for your lawn!

If there’s rainfall or your lawn is drought-tolerant, you can water less often.

Deep watering a few times a week (or a month) is much better than short, frequent watering sessions. It results in a stronger root system, more drought tolerance, and an overall healthier lawn.

Be mindful of the type of soil, as too much moisture can lead to root rot.


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

Garden Watering of a Spring Green lawn

The best time to water grass is in the early morning – before 9:00 AM (or 10:00 AM in some states).

Watering your lawn early in the morning allows the water to penetrate the soil before the sun evaporates the moisture. This is especially important in warmer months.

Night watering is possible, but not recommended. Since nighttime temperatures are lower, the water evaporates much slower, putting your lawn at risk of fungal diseases.

Some states or cities may have specific restrictions or policies regarding when and how long to water your lawn. 

Check your local council rules, but some general guidelines per state/territory are:

  • Australian Capital Territory: From spring to autumn, irrigation systems are allowable before 9:00 AM or after 6:00 PM, while hand watering is allowed at any time. During winter, any form of watering is allowed so long as there is no pooling or runoff.
  • New South Wales: For Sydney and surrounds, watering by hose or water systems is allowed before 10:00 AM or after 4:00 PM. Smart systems are allowed between 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. New turf may be watered at any time for 28 days after laying.
  • Northern Territory: The NT has quite strict regulations regarding water usage and consumption. In Katherine, odd-numbered properties can water Monday/Wednesday/Friday, while even-numbered properties can water on Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday before 8:00 AM or after 6:00 PM. There are also maximum water requirements for lawns (in mm per week) listed on the site.
  • Queensland: There are no specific restrictions in Brisbane and other cities. Recommendations include installing rainwater tanks, using irrigation systems, and watering between 5:00-10:00 AM.
  • South Australia: In Adelaide and other cities, lawn owners can hand water at any time with a watering can or hose with a trigger nozzle. Sprinklers are restricted to between 5:00 PM and 10:00 AM.
  • Tasmania: Lawn watering is allowed any day of the week, but manual systems are only usable between 6:00-8:00 AM and 8:00-10:00 PM. Automatic systems may run between 12:00 AM to 4:00 AM. Hand watering can be done at any time.
  • Victoria: In Melbourne and other cities, you can use a handheld hose with a trigger nozzle on any day. Watering systems (including sprinklers) are allowed on alternate days from 6:00-10:00 AM and 6:00-10:00 PM.
  • Western Australia: Perth and much of WA have designated watering days based on your street or lot number. Sprinklers are allowed only before 9:00 AM or after 6:00 PM, and there is a sprinkler ban from June to August. Hose watering is allowed at any time.


What is the Best Way to Water Grass?

If you can afford the setup (or make a DIY one!), the best way to water the lawn is with a sprinkler system or irrigation system. Both ensure more even water distribution versus watering with a hose.

It’s also more convenient since you can simply set the flow timer to the appropriate setting for different lawn types and weather.

However, you’ll be fine with a simple hose (or watering can, for smaller areas). The overall goal is to ensure the ground is watered to about 3-5cm deep.


Hand watering

Man watering green lawn

Use a hose with a trigger-activated nozzle with spray settings, like this Comfort 8-Pattern Flow Control Sprayer. This will let you control the water flow and distribution, making lawn watering more efficient.

Work on one section of your lawn at a time, ensuring the top 3cm is well-watered.

One advantage of the hands-on approach is it lets you observe your lawn up close. You can check if water is pooling or grass is looking unhealthy.


Sprinkler or irrigation system

For sprinklers, the standard is to run for about 20-30 minutes in the early morning or early evening, once a week. Mini sprinklers may need up to 60 minutes.

After the sprinklers have gone off, check the top layer of soil. If the ground is wet beneath the surface, your lawn has gotten enough water.

There are several types of sprinklers, such as:

Another option is in-ground sprinklers. These are more expensive to install and maintain, as they need to be winterised to prevent damage from cold temperatures.

However, automated irrigation systems are more water-efficient and ensure even coverage. You can set the watering schedule in advance and adjust it as necessary.

Automated in-ground sprinklers are also less likely to be damaged by animals or pests, and they’re easier to manoeuvre around while mowing the lawn.

For garden beds, you can also use seep hoses or soaker hoses to deliver water.


How to Water Hydrophobic Soils

hydrophobic soil

Hot climates, sparse rainfall, and fires can cause soils to become hydrophobic over time. Sandy soils and compacted ground also tend to become hydrophobic.

Hydrophobic soil repels water due to a waxy residue that builds up on the surface or in the ground. That prevents the earth and plants from absorbing moisture.

Signs your lawn has become hydrophobic include water run-off or pooling, instead of seeping into the ground.

To water a hydrophobic lawn immediately, you’ll need to use wetting agents. These break down the waxy build-up and make it easier for water to penetrate.

However, a wetting agent is not a sustainable solution for lawns. 

More long-term solutions for hydrophobic soil include compost tea (worm castings and compost) or amendments (organic matter such as pine bark and lawn clippings).


How to Save Water On Your Lawn

Water is a precious resource, and the average lawn will need 10-20 litres per square metre.

Some ways you can save water while following proper lawn care include:

  • Mulch your lawn to help it retain moisture
  • Top dress the lawn every few years to boost health
  • Dethatch warm-season lawns to prevent build-up
  • Use treated greywater (only for lawns, not other plants)
  • Use a rain gauge and weather app to track rainfall in your area
  • Aerate the lawn once a year to prevent compaction and improve drainage
  • Opt for Australian native grasses and other grass types that have drought tolerance
  • Try automated watering like pulsating sprinklers or in-ground irrigation for more efficiency


Lawn Watering FAQs

A typical front yard garden of Australian homes with low maintenance Yucca trees and panel fencing.

Here are a few more tips for proper lawn care and watering!


Should you water grass after mowing it?

You can – but it isn’t necessary. If you mow the lawn during warmer months or it aligns with your regular mowing schedule, you can water the grass the day after you mow.

Do not water immediately after watering, since you could encourage shallow rotting or damage vulnerable grass.

On the flip side, never trim after watering – mowing wet grass is bad for your lawn mower!


What temperature is too hot to water grass?

Temperatures of 35ºC (95ºF) or higher are a bit too high for watering your lawn. 

In that heat, the moisture evaporates before it can reach the roots.


How much should I water my lawn after laying?

For new turf, water ASAP after laying!

Then keep the turf moist with light watering every day for 2-4 weeks to ensure the grass takes root.


Can I overwater a lawn?

Yes, you can – and it’s quite easy to overwater, especially for established lawns or during cooler months.

Signs of an overwatered lawn include pale grass, spongy or soggy soil, thatch build-up, and weeds.

You will need to stop watering your lawn and aerate the ground to let it dry out. Then water less frequently until you have a healthy lawn again.

About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.


About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.