Does Watering Grass In The Sun Burn It (2023)?

Does Watering Grass In The Sun Burn It (2023)?

Watering grass in the sun will not burn it. However, water will evaporate more quickly when it is hot outside. So, when summer heat hits, it is better to water grass early in the early morning or in the late afternoon to allow the grassroots to absorb the moisture before it evaporates.

Figuring out the best lawn care methods is a challenging task. You are bound to make a few mistakes or at least face a few dilemmas along the way. 

The question I had trouble answering is: “Does watering grass in the sun burn it?” There is a lot of controversy around this myth, even though, in the words of Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D., Extension Horticulturist and Associate Professor from Washington State University, most .edu websites dispel it.

Let’s find out if the sun’s energy and water droplets are really a deadly combo for lawn grass and when and how to water your lawn in the summer!

Myth Busting: Does Watering Grass In The Sun Burn It?

A woman watering the lawn in the sun

According to lawn care experts from Hicks Landscape Contractors, a reputable lawn maintenance firm from Wake County, NC, to ensure grass growth, you must secure high-quality soil and plenty of sunlight and water. In North Carolina, where I come from, the main problem during the hot summer months is providing enough water.

Since the majority of the population leads a hasty life, the main query is when to water grass. Most people hurry to work in the early morning (which is definitely the best time to water your lawn) and often tend to their lawns when they get home in the afternoon. But, is it okay to water grass in the midday sun on a hot sunny day?

The short answer is: yes. 

In the words of the already-mentioned Linda Chalker-Scott, a wet lawn is not susceptible to sunburn. So, there is no need to postpone irrigation until the evening in fear of grass burns and leaf scorch. Feel free to water your lawn whenever you notice signs of drought stress, even if it is the middle of a hot, sunny day – it will not damage your grass. 

What Are The Possible Causes Of Lawn Damage?

Patchy and unhealthy lawn grass

According to Dennis Pittenger, an Area Environmental Horticulturist at the University of California Cooperative Extension, lawn damage can occur due to abiotic causes (too much fertilizer or pesticides, dog urine, or salt build-up), pests and insects, or too much or too little water, etc. Poor soil quality is another reason people might struggle to maintain a healthy lawn too. 

You should also consider the type of grass. As explained by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, cool-season grasses, such as fescues and bluegrass, go dormant in the summer and need watering every 3 weeks if there is no rain. 

Constant watering only inspires the growth of heat-loving weeds. The best thing you can do is give your lawn a break for a month or two, and you’ll see it grow back in September. 

My problem was over-fertilizing. I thought I was doing my grass a favor, but excess fertilizer burned my grass. My neighbor, on the other hand, ruined his lawn by watering it at night. So, let’s take a moment to explain why that is a bad thing.

What Happens If You Water Grass In The Evening?

A sprinkler watering the lawn grass

The magnifying glass theory stating that water droplets act as magnifying glasses and allow the sun’s energy to scorch your grass is simply not true. In fact, water droplets are far more dangerous at night. As I read in an article written by Brandon Grammer from the Commercial Lawn Irrigation Company, watering your grass in the evening is a terrible idea for several reasons:

  • It promotes disease since water droplets on the leaf surfaces encourage fungus growth. Common problems include leaf scorch, brown patches, rust, and dollar spots.
  • It disrupts plant activity since grass cannot expel moisture during the night. This can lead to plant rot. 
  • It can attract pests that love damp, dark places. These pests not only feed on your grass but also spread disease.
  • It can cause waterlogging. Since water does not evaporate at night, the soil can become too saturated, preventing the oxygen from reaching grass roots.
  • It increases the risk of soil erosion since water does not soak into the ground as quickly as during the day. Common signs of this problem are bare patches and bald spots.

How & When To Water Your Lawn During Hot Weather?

A sprinkler watering the lawn in the sun

I have already mentioned that even though morning is the best time to water your lawn during the hot season, you can do it later in the day, too. However, there are other things to consider.

In my town (Raleigh, NC), water conservation is an important issue that both residents and local officials take quite seriously. The common goal is to maintain healthy, green lawns while wasting as little water as possible, and that is why there are irrigation recommendations and a water usage calculator that help keep everything in check.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency gives the following recommendations for setting up your automatic sprinkler system properly and saving up to 50 percent of the water you use for your lawn:

  • Timing is most important – someone from your local water utility company can probably help you determine how much water your lawn needs and the best time to water it.
  • Upgrade to a WaterSense labeled controller, which uses local weather data to determine when and how much to water your grass.
  • Hire professional help certified through a WaterSense labeled program to help you install and maintain your irrigation system.
  • Check for leaks and broken/clogged sprinkler heads on a regular basis. Fix every problem as soon as you spot it.
A man checking soil moisture with the moisture meter

If you are like me and you don’t have a sprinkler system, the EPA recommends the following:

  • Step on your grass to see if it springs back up. If it does, you can postpone lawn watering.  
  • Buy a soil moisture sensor. They don’t cost much and can prevent overwatering and damaging grass roots.
  • Do not cut your grass short. Longer grass means deeper roots and better drought resistance. 
  • Refrain from using your hose to wash driveways, steps, and sidewalks to avoid overwatering and water wastage. Use a broom instead. 

I found a great video offering more hot-weather watering tips:

YouTube player


Should you water grass seed when the sun is out?

You should water grass seed when the sun is out, preferably before it gets too hot. Early in the morning is the best time to water lawns and newly seeded lawns are no exception to this rule. 

Can you revive sun burnt grass?

You can revive sun burnt grass by watering it properly, adding potassium-rich fertilizer, and letting it grow a bit longer, as recommended by an article I read in Plantura magazine. If that doesn’t work, consider re-seeding the discolored or bald patches.


Multiple sprinklers watering the lawn grass in the sun

Long story short: feel free to water your grass in the sun or whenever you notice signs of water stress! Water droplets do not act as magnifying glasses and won’t scorch your grass. Grass can be damaged by many things, but irrigation with fresh water is certainly not one of them (unless you overdo it)! 
Please comment and share! Exchanging our knowledge and experiences can only help!

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