Water Your Lawn or Let It Go Dormant? Here Is What To Do

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Many homeowners believe that the only way to keep a lawn healthy is by watering it frequently. However, letting a lawn go dormant has some surprising benefits for the homeowner if appropriately done. So, which option is better?

Letting your lawn go dormant will save you time and costs that would otherwise be spent on watering. However, some grass varieties may not thrive under dormancy. Furthermore, you may lose the aesthetic. Watering your lawn, on the other hand, may be costly and time-consuming.

The rest of this article will cover these two options in greater detail. I will explain how to conduct each process correctly and let you know either option’s potential pros and cons. Also included is a comprehensive comparison to help you make the best choice for your lawn.

Letting Your Lawn Go Dormant

A dormant or sleeping lawn may not be as appealing as a lush, green one. Nonetheless, you can expect the following benefits from letting your lawn go dormant:

  • It saves you the extra water costs
  • You spend less time and effort on lawn care
  • It’s more sustainable for drought-prone areas
  • Protects your grass during hot summer seasons

The Proper Process for Letting Your Lawn Go Dormant

Letting your lawn go dormant is not akin to abandoning it. You must follow the proper process to maintain healthy grass that can easily be revived. Here is how you should do it:

1. Check That Your Grass Is Drought-Resistant

Drought-resistant grass can survive extended periods without watering. On the contrary, cool-season grasses require frequent watering and cannot survive drought. One typical example is Kentucky bluegrass. Check out my article here about hardy grass seeds that grow well in winter.

Your lawn may also feature a combination of different grass varieties. In this case, it would be best to plant drought-resistant grass throughout your lawn, so you do not have sections of dead grass.

2. Mow at the Right Height

Cut the grass to a height of 3.5 inches (8.9 centimeters) because its ability to withstand drought is optimized at this height. 

To help you attain this precise cut, I suggest using a mower with a sharp blade and a level deck. This article will guide you on how to do both to achieve a perfectly mowed lawn as you prepare to let it sleep.

3. Water Your Lawn Sparingly

Even the most drought-resistant grass will die if it dries out completely. Therefore, in the absence of rainfall, you need to provide at least 0.5 inches (1.3 centimeters) of water every four to six weeks for the first few weeks. 

Subsequently, the watering frequency should increase to every two to three weeks. Doing this will keep your grass from completely drying out.

Valuable Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Dormant Lawn

Dormant grass is vulnerable, so you must know how to keep it healthy. Here are some valuable tips:

  • Start with a healthy lawn. Grass that has been newly planted, damaged, or affected by pests and diseases is unlikely to thrive when dormant. Therefore, ensure your lawn is healthy before starting the process.
  • Keep off the dormant lawn. Dormant grass is pretty brittle, and walking over it will crush and damage it.
  • Do not use herbicides, as they may damage the grass in its sensitive state.

If you wish to restore your lawn, irrigate it with enough water to penetrate the roots. The recommended water level is 6 to 12 inches (15 – 30.5 centimeters). Avoid exceeding the recommended water level, as it can result in water damage.

Watering Your Lawn

If you prefer keeping your lawn green all year round, you must know how to water it properly. Too much water will cause fungal growth and disease, while underwatering may lead to your lawn becoming dormant.

Here is a simple guide to help you correctly water your lawn:

When To Water Your Lawn

The ideal time to water your lawn is early morning to allow water to penetrate the roots adequately. Watering later in the day when the sun is up may be counterproductive since most of the water will evaporate and not hydrate the plant. Check out my article here when it’s too cold to water your lawn.

It is also not a good idea to water the lawn in the evening, as this can result in water-logged roots that are prone to rot.

How Much Water To Use

Experts recommend that you irrigate your lawn with an inch of water ( 2.5 cm)  for about 20 minutes. This applies to moderately hot days or when the temperatures do not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius). 

On hotter days, increase the water level to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) of water and irrigate for 30 minutes.

How Often To Water Your Lawn

Water your lawn every two to three days. Doing this will allow ample time for the water to get used up. It will also prevent the accumulation of water at the grassroots.

Furthermore, watering your lawn every two to three days encourages your grass to grow deeper roots, equipping it to survive drought seasons much better.

Tips for Conserving Water When Watering Your Lawn

Here are a few tips to help you save on water costs when irrigating your lawn:

  • Install irrigation systems close to the ground because the water will be directed toward the grassroots, leading to less wastage.
  • Harvest rainwater and use it to water your lawn.
  • Maintain the grass at 2 inches (5 centimeters) to lower the evaporation rate.
  • Inspect the watering system regularly for leaks (and fix them promptly).
  • Plant drought-resistant grass varieties.

Water Your Lawn or Let It Go Dormant? The Verdict

Letting your lawn go dormant in summer is a great way to minimize water consumption while protecting your grass from completely drying off. It is cheaper and more manageable to manage your lawn during this hot season. 

However, a dormant lawn may be less appealing than a watered lawn. Fortunately, you can reverse the dormancy process within a few weeks by resuming the regular watering schedule.


If you are looking for a low-maintenance way to manage your lawn in summer, letting it go dormant is your best option. Nonetheless, you can apply the water conservation tips recommended in this article if you choose to keep your lawn watered.

Regardless of the option you choose, ensure that you follow the proper procedure to get the best results.

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