Guide to Lawn Watering Systems and Methods

There are lots of ways to water. Find the method that works easiest and most efficiently for you and your lawn.

Find Out About Garden Sprinklers and Other Watering Methods

The yard looks dry and you know you're supposed to water. So you go to the store and look at garden sprinklers, and then it hits you: Too many choices. You see square sprinklers, round sprinklers, oscillating sprinklers, water-pistol type sprinklers, and other options. What's going to work best in your yard? Here's a quick review of different methods you can use.

Hand Watering

This method uses a hose with a wand or nozzle attached to the end. You stand there, hose in hand, and apply water to your plants. This system is great for watering container plants and flowers. It's not so great for watering lawns. The biggest problem with hand-watering is knowing when you've watered enough. Hand watering is ideal for small patches where you might be planting grass seed.


This type is what you commonly see used on lawns. There are many types of garden sprinklers. Oscillating sprinklers fan back and forth, shooting thin streams of water in the air to cover large rectangles. Impact sprinklers shoot pulses of water like a water pistol in a circular motion. Stationary sprinklers spray continuously in one pattern. They're handy for watering hard-to-reach places under trees and in corners. Traveling sprinklers look like toy tractors with helicopter propellers on top. They move along the yard as they water. They're handy for large, level lawns. They all have advantages and disadvantages, so compare them in the store and choose the one that's right for you.

Permanent or Built-In Irrigation Systems

Permanent irrigation systems are the most efficient and convenient method available for watering lawns. They're also the most expensive obviously. No bulky hoses to lug around. No mess. You just set the timer and let the system do its thing. Permanent irrigation systems cost a lot of money up front, and they require digging trenches to run pipes as well as annual maintenance such as winterizing the system of you live in a colder area. But they save you lots of time and hassle.

Drip Irrigation

This is the method of choice for people who live where water is scarce or expensive. A drip hose allows water to ooze out, soaking the root area of plants. This keeps the leaves dry to avoid fungus, and conserves water. It's great for gardens, but not practical for your lawn.

Watering Your Lawn

No matter what kind of watering system you use, you want to try and minimize your water usage. Grass grows deep, healthy roots when you water deeply but infrequently. Mowing at the proper height for your grass and feeding it regularly will help establish a deep, strong root system as well. As a rule of thumb, grass needs about an inch of water per week whether from rain or watering. Frequent, shallow watering causes shallow roots to grow, which makes your grass susceptible to drought and other problems. Also, try to water early in the day to avoid evaporation.