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How Long to Water Plants with Sprinkler?

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Knowing how much to water your plants with a sprinkler can be challenging because there are so many different types of sprinklers. People use sprinkler systems with various built-in sprinkler heads. They also use movable sprinklers that attach to the end of a hose and spray larger lawn or garden areas to save time.

Understanding how much water your sprinkler puts out and how to spot issues with your plants are the best ways to know how long you should be watering. If you start to see signs of overwatering or that your plants need more sprinkler time, you can adjust how long you’re running the sprinklers until you find the sweet spot.

One of the best things about modern sprinkler systems is that you can automate them. Once you know how much water your plants need, it’s easy to set your sprinklers for a specific time each week to keep your plants in excellent condition.

Here’s some advice on how long to water plants with a sprinkler and how to get there.

Green grass being watered with automatic sprinkler system sunny day

Running Your Sprinklers

If you have a sprinkler system, you must run each station between 10 and 20 minutes during the hot summer months. How frequently you water often depends on the weather and local water conditions.

Many states will implement water restrictions on sprinklers if they’re worried about drought. In parts of Utah and the rest of the Midwest, for example, local jurisdictions tell residents to limit watering lawns to only twice a week to conserve water.

Running each sprinkler station for around 15 minutes helps your plants get the needed water. You may not have the luscious green lawn you want when only watering twice a week, but your lawn and plants will survive.

If there are no watering restrictions in place, then you should water for the same amount of time every other day for the best results. If you’re running a standard sprinkler system, there should be enough water for all the plants in your garden and landscaping.

Plastic sprinkler irrigating flower bed on grass lawn with water

Monitoring the Health of Your Plants

It’s hard to say how long you should water your plants with sprinklers without knowing how much water your sprinklers produce per minute.

Every sprinkler system will vary to some degree based on the head models, the size of the water pipes, your home’s water pressure, and other factors.

You can get technical by measuring your sprinkler output, but most people learn to look for signs of unhealthy plants and adjust based on how their yard or garden is doing.

Here are some things to look for that indicate you need to water your plants with sprinklers more.

Dry Soil

A sprout grows in dry soil. Selective focus.

It’s fine if the topsoil around your plants feels or looks dry. If your garden or bushes are out in the sun for several hours a day, as they likely should be, the topsoil will dry out. However, the soil should remain moist a few inches beneath the surface.

Stick a finger or a stick into the ground to see how wet the dirt is around the roots. If things get dry, you need to water your plants more often or keep your sprinkler on longer each time you water.

Dry Leaves

Dry leaves are an easy, early indicator that you should be watering your plants more. Touch them with your hands as well to feel if the leaves are brittle. Look for fallen leaves around the base of the plant. These are signs that your plants need more water.


Problems in the cultivation of domestic plants - leaves affected by a spider mite

Yellow plants and grass mean your lawn is dehydrated, and you should increase watering as soon as possible to keep them alive.

How Mature Are Your Plants?

Mature plants have more extensive root systems that gather water from a larger area. They can usually go without regular watering when necessary. Younger plants, however, need watering more frequently.

So, if you’re planting a new garden, you’ll likely want to run your sprinklers daily longer than you would for a mature plant. It helps guarantee that their shorter roots get the water they need. Eventually, they’ll grow into mature plants that are more resilient, and you won’t have to water them as much.

What Affects How Long You Water Plants?

The type of sprinklers you use will impact how long you water your plants. Most residential homes have three different types of sprinklers. They are:

Rotor Systems

Sprinkler on grass in the garden

These sprinklers water slowly, but they move when they’re on to cover distinct parts of your lawn. Typically, rotor sprinklers shoot a strong stream of water in whichever direction they’re pointing. The main issue with these is that they only hit areas every so often based on their coverage area.

Spray Systems

Lawn water sprinkler spraying water over grass in garden on a hot summer day.

These are the most common type of sprinklers. They pop up out of the ground and spray in all directions.

People install systems in gardens and yards to cover every area. You can adjust their range or use different sprinkler heads that only spray in a half or quarter circle for smaller areas and edges.

Soaker Hoses

water dripping from black rigid soaker hose with garden background

Gardeners love using soaker hoses. These are sprinklers that you can lace through the lower levels of plants to give them water at their bases. Soaker hoses don’t get water on the leaves of crops or delicate flower plants.

Sunny garden with green grass and bushes and small playground

The Impact of Weather

The weather significantly affects how long you water plants with sprinklers or a hose. When it’s hot outside, you’ll need to water more because water evaporates faster.

Ideally, you’ll run your sprinklers in the morning before it’s hot and the sun is out to give your plants time to absorb water before it starts drying everything out.

Give yourself time to learn the sprinkler system and gauge how long you’ll need to run things. Understanding your system will increase your chances of success with a garden or when you plant new outdoor plants.


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