Recommended Sprinkler Run Times

Let’s face it, for everyone, American or not, one of the conventionally shared dreams is owning a house. Not just any home, but one with perfectly mowed and healthy lawns, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, sophisticated interiors, white picket fence, and more.

While all of these aren’t always attainable, most people have a lawn – at least, that’s a start!

With having a lawn comes the chore of taking care of it properly. One solution? Sprinklers!

Sprinklers take off a lot of work from your shoulders, but as much as they are helpful, they can also be harmful to your lawn. Knowing when to run your sprinklers, how long they should run, and the intervals at which they should be run is essential.

There’s a significant connection between the right or standard sprinkler run time and a healthy lawn. Here’s what you should know.

How Long Should You Run Each Sprinkler Zone?

Sprinkler Zone

Just as you need water, the plants in your lawn also do. Watering your lawn at the right time, with the correct quantity of water, and for the right duration is one key to a healthy lawn.

However, before deciding how long you need to water, you need to understand a few things. The type of grasses or plants, grassroots, the weather, location, the soil, the amount of water going in while the sprinkler is on, and the irrigation system matter in this process.

Every watering session should last long enough to soak the soil adequately so that every grass root gets just enough water. To find out how long and how much is enough, here’s what you should do.

  • Figure out how much water your lawn needs per week. This is usually measured in inches, and the majority of lawns need about one to one-and-a-half inches of water per week, while some may require up to two. The amount required is dependent on the grass type (warm or cool-season grasses).

    Warm-season grasses generally need less water. You can find out how much your grass needs by carrying out some research. For example, Bermudagrass only needs about 1 inch of water per week.

  • Calculate the water output rate of your sprinkler system. This determines how much water your water sprinkler produces per 15, 20, 30 minutes, or more, depending on how you want to calculate it. The output rate is calculated in inches.

    The result is used to determine how long you can run your sprinklers in a particular zone. You can calculate this using the tin can test.

    What’s the tin can test? It is performed using standard containers or empty tuna cans. Empty cans are put within the range of the sprinkler system and allowed to run for 15-20 minutes. Then the water collected is measured using a ruler.

    The average of all the cans is calculated, and the inches of water needed per hour are calculated. You can also use a flow meter to calculate the output rate.

  • Calculate the time needed to water your lawn per week. The result of this calculation depends on the type of plants or grasses in your lawn and the sprinkler’s output rate.

    It is calculated by dividing your turf’s weekly watering needs (in inches) by the hourly output rate of your sprinkler. The results you get will help you calculate the frequency of watering sessions per week.

  • Calculate the period needed for each watering session. The period of every watering session is just as important as the frequency of these sessions. If you want your lawn lush and green, water must reach the grassroots adequately and be completely absorbed.

    For this to happen, you need to calculate the watering duration per session. To calculate the time of each watering session, divide the total weekly watering period by the watering frequency per week. Remember, the type of soil and climate has a significant effect on the watering duration.

By general standards, your sprinkler should run for 20-35 minutes twice a week. Each watering session should produce a minimum of half an inch of water to achieve at least 1 inch of water per week. In dry seasons and hot climates, you may need to water up to three times per week to meet up the watering needs of your lawn.

During rainy seasons, you may need to get a rain gauge; this will help you measure how much rain your lawn gets within a specific period. Knowing this will help you adjust your watering sessions during the season.

What Time Should Lawn Sprinklers Run?

What Time Should Lawn Sprinklers Run

In lawn care, timing is key! It is everything, and you need to keep this at the back of your mind. No matter how much, how often, or how well you water your lawn, wrong timing will alter your expected results if you allow it.

The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning –  between 6 am and 10 am. At this time, you can avoid the evaporation of midday watering and reduce the probability of lawn diseases resulting from nighttime watering.

Should I Run Sprinklers Every Day?

Yes and No.

Why? Well, while your lawn grasses or turfs are still at the seed stage, you need to water them every day to facilitate growth. But! Once they start to germinate and grow, you will need to cut down on the frequency and water only according to the watering needs of your lawn. Your lawn will thrive more when you practice deep and adequate watering rather than frequent watering.

Running your sprinklers every day can lead to overwatering. And, as the famous saying goes, “anything in excess is bad.” Overwatering can promote fungal activity, cause erosion and wet spots build-up, deprive your lawn of oxygen, and deter its growth and health.

Also, it’s a means of simply wasting water and increasing your water bill unnecessarily. I’m sure you’d like to cut costs in every way you can. If you do this, reducing watering frequency is a great way to cut back on expenses.

How Much Water Does a Sprinkler Use in 1 Hour?

The amount of water your sprinkler uses in an hour depends on several factors such as water pressure, the type of sprinkler, and so on. However, the standard sprinkler run from a conventional hose uses about 1,020 gallons of water per hour.

The influencing factors can either increase it or decrease this amount.

Sprinkler Run Time Calculator

If you’ve had a hard time calculating your lawn’s sprinkler run time, you can download a sprinkler run time calculator. There are several you can access online. A few includes:

  • Hunter Run time calculator
  • Pennington seed watering calculator
  • Irrigation run time calculator

You don’t have to worry about poor timing, lousy watering practices, and the results. With these calculators, you can easily figure out important information and apply it.


Your lawn is just as important as your house’s interior. It mirrors how you take care of your interior and passes a message to everyone who passes by your home. Keeping your lawn mowed isn’t enough; ensuring that you keep your turfs healthy and lush through proper maintenance is vital.