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How Long Should I Leave The Sprinkler On?

If you have a rather large garden or yard, you will probably notice that manually watering the plants and the lawn can be exhausting. On the other hand, watering manually can raise many issues related to the quantity of water you use.

For this reason, many homeowners and gardeners choose to install sprinklers. I have them too, and I have to say that sprinklers are the best way to water my garden and my lawn.

Nevertheless, I have to admit that I have had a rough time while figuring out for how long should I leave the sprinkler on. If you are facing the same issue, you will find the answer in this article.

Types Of Sprinkler System

Before getting to the big question, let’s first discuss the types of sprinkler systems. There are four of them, and choosing the right one is essential to minimize water consumption and increase watering efficiency. Remember that a well-designed irrigation system can help you avoid over-watering.

Here are the four types of sprinkler systems:


Traditional Spray System

As the name says, these sprinkler systems are the most common irrigation systems available on the market. They are generally automatic and are equipped with pop-up spray heads with adjustable watering ranges.

In fact, you will be able to choose if you want the sprinkler to spray water in full circle, half circle or quarter circle.

If you have a traditional spray system, pay attention to position the heads to spray next to the other to ensure a full coverage. Also, pay attention to use the same type of heads to ensure a uniform distribution of water.

Rotor System

The rotor system sprinklers are more efficient compared to the spray systems, as they have a slower watering rate. These systems also present the advantage of being versatile, the manufacturers producing rotor irrigation systems suitable for oddly-shaped or small areas.

Soaker Hoses

These systems are not actually sprinklers, as the hoses actually soak water and transfer it to the ground directly. These irrigation systems are ideal for vegetable gardens, as you will avoid watering the leaves of your crops.

Drip Systems

The drip systems are probably the most professional sprinkler systems on the market. They can be soaker systems, bubblers or micro-sprayers, and are ideal for lawns, flowerbeds, and vegetable gardens. They can also be successfully used around trees and bushes.

The drip systems not only can be customized to meet your needs, but they also feed water directly to the base of the plants at a slow rate, allowing the soil to absorb it properly.


But enough with the theory. Now, that you can decide what type of sprinkler system to install, let’s answer the main question, namely “How long should I leave the sprinkler on?”

Before getting into detail, I must say that this question doesn’t have a universal answer. How long you should leave the sprinkler on depends on the type of soil in your area, the weather, and the plants you need to water.

However, there are a few general rules you can follow. So, let’s see how long you should leave the sprinkler on when watering the lawn, the flowerbeds or your veggies garden.

How Long Should I Leave The Sprinkler On: Lawn

To determine how long you should leave the sprinkler on for the watering of your lawn, there are a few steps to take:

1. First of all, you should determine the type of lawn you have. If you’re not sure about the type of grass growing in your yard, you should ask an expert gardener for advice, as not all grass types have the same watering requirements. In fact, the warm-season types of grass require less watering during summer than the cold-season types.

2. Once established the type of grass, you should determine the water output of the sprinkler system. To do this, you should position 6 containers (small cans) at even distances on the lawn. Turn on the sprinklers for 20 minutes and measure (with a ruler) the depth of the water in each container. To determine the water output per hour, multiply the average depth per three.

3. With the above information, you can determine how long you should leave the sprinkler on. As a general rule, most types of grass require about 1 inch of water per week. This means that if your sprinkler has an output of one inch per hour, you should water your lawn for one hour each week.It is recommended to provide the necessary amount of water in a single watering session rather than insufficient water in more sessions.

4. Lastly, make sure to adjust the watering based on the weather. If the season is rainy, diminish the use of the sprinklers. On the contrary, if the weather is too dry or windy, increase the watering frequency.

How Long Should I Leave The Sprinkler On: Flowerbeds

To determine for how long you should leave the sprinkler on to water your flowerbeds, you should make sure you know what plants you have. As a general rule, you should aim to give at least an inch of water per week to your plants.

How Long Should I Leave The Sprinkler On: Vegetable Garden

In the case of a vegetable garden, the water demand increases and you should usually provide at least two inches of water per week. Test the soil with a rod to see if it is moisturized enough and remember that sandy soils usually need more watering.

Watering Tips

1. Water early in the morning or late in the evening, or the roots of your plants might suffer from the intense heat.

2. Set a slow watering rate. You should allow the soil to absorb the water or you will increase water waste.

3. Adjust the watering range of your sprinklers to ensure an even distribution of water.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, determining how long you should leave the sprinkler on is not hard, you just have to know the characteristics of your soil and of your plants.

How do you water your plants? Do you use a different method to determine how long you should leave the sprinkler on? Leave a comment and share your thoughts or concerns.

And remember, a sprinkler system is more efficient than manual watering, so it’s time to invest in one!

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 10 comments
Taylor Bishop - Feb 11, 2019

I wanted t o thank you for explaining how long a sprinkler should be on. It’s good to know that for traditional systems should have the same type of heads to make sure water is distributed evenly. Perhaps it could be beneficial to compare different sprinkler heads so you understand how many you may need or which ones would fit your situation.

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Angel Bogart - Feb 15, 2019

I really appreciate your tip to leave 6 small cans on the lawn to measure the amount of water your sprinkler releases in 20 minutes. This would be valuable especially in planning to have our village bungalow lawn recarpeted with various exotic grasses. It is almost summer and it is important to have a sprinkler system that waters these plants just right for them to thrive.

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Jackson Bush - Jun 19, 2019

I’m glad that you put the information in the article that explains how to determine the water output of the sprinkler system. I’m having struggles fixing my sprinkler system that keeps putting out too much water at night. I’ll be positioning my containers tonight so that I can figure out how to fix my sprinkler system.

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Braden Bills - Jun 24, 2019

I want to make sure that I irrigate my property properly. It makes sense that getting the right kind of sprinkler system would be beneficial! I think a good spray system would work just fine.

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Johnny McCarron - Jun 25, 2019

I like your idea of using a slow watering rate to allow the soil to absorb the water and decrease waste. Just because you’re maintaining your garden doesn’t mean you need to use a ton of water. If I ever needed irrigation, I hope I’d find a good company to help me implement it.

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Thomas Jameson - Jul 30, 2019

It’s good to know that you should use your sprinklers or irrigation system in the morning or your plants could suffer from intense heat. My brother wants to start a farm, so he’ll need to irrigate his crops. I’ll pass this information along to him for his consideration.

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Tyler Johnson - Jul 31, 2019

That’s a good idea to water the grass int he early morning. That way you wouldn’t have to worry about the sprinklers hitting you on your way out. I’ll have to make sure to do that.

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Devin Scott - Oct 9, 2019

I like how you mentioned to turn your sprinklers on in the morning or late in the evening. My wife and I are looking to make our lawn look great for the summer. I’ll be sure to only turn on the sprinklers during the morning or at night.

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Jerry Woods - Oct 23, 2019

It’s great to learn that you should water your lawn with your sprinklers for one hour each week. My wife and I are moving into a new home together and we were wondering how we can keep our lawn looking great. I’ll make sure that our sprinkler system is on for one hour a week at least.

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Ron Booker - Oct 23, 2019

I like that you said that in order to know for how long you need to leave your sprinkler system on, it depends on the type of plants you have. My friend told me that he was planning to get a sprinkler for his lawn. I’m going to look for someone that can help him with the installation.

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