How to Keep Your Lawn Watered with Water Regulations in Austin, TX

A lawn in Austin

Having a beautiful, green lawn can help elevate any home’s curb appeal. But lawn watering regulations in Austin, TX, can make it challenging to keep your grass vibrant and hydrated.

The Austin Water Conservation Department has put in place specific laws to enforce good watering habits that conserve our water resources. Here is what you should know to maintain the health of your lawn while adhering to city regulations. 

Central Texas Water Restrictions in 2023

Lawn watering restrictions vary depending on whether you water with a hose-end sprinkler or an automatic irrigation system. Residential customers using hose-end sprinklers are given two watering days per week and are allowed to water between the hours of midnight to 10 a.m. and/or 7 p.m. to midnight. 

On the other hand, folks using an automatic irrigation system are given one day per week to water between midnight and 8 a.m. or 7 p.m. to midnight. 

*Note: If you fail to follow the watering restrictions, you can be fined up to $500 per violation. In order to avoid such fines, you can check the most up-to-date watering schedule for your address on the Austin Water website.

Exemptions to the Regulations

Though there are strict rules on when and how often you can water your lawn, there are a few exemptions. Some allowable water uses without restrictions include:

  • Watering trees with a Treegator
  • Pressure washing residences (such as sidewalks and patios)
  • Soaker hose or automatic tree bubbler
  • Watering vegetable gardens with a soaker hose

With the following methods, you can water your plants at any time on any day: 

  • Refillable container
  • Drip irrigation
  • Hand-held hose 

8 Tips to Keep Your Lawn Watered in Austin

Water regulations in Austin require a strict watering schedule for all customers throughout the year. Still, it doesn’t have to be a challenge to keep your lawn looking healthy.

Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a beginner, here are some tips for meeting your water needs and keeping your Austin lawn hydrated and at its best.

1. Watering Smartly and Efficiently

A lawn being watered with pink chairs in the background
Photo Credit: PublicDomainPictures

The City of Austin’s average annual rainfall is 10% below the Texas average, making it a little harder to keep the grass lush and healthy. Once you know your schedule, you want to ensure your water usage is minimal yet effective enough to nourish your grass.

First of all, pay attention to your grass and determine when it needs to be watered. It should bounce back when stepped on and be a healthy shade of green. If it has a blue-green hue or if walking across the lawn leaves visible footprints, those are signs it needs water. Avoid watering until you start to notice these signs.

2. Water at The Right Time of Day

Avoid those peak hot hours: 12 pm – 6 pm. During these hours, the scorching Texas sun will evaporate most of the water before your soil can absorb it, leading to huge amounts of waste. Instead, water in the early morning before 10 a.m.

3. Shallow Roots Won’t Survive Texas Weather

A picture showing a lawn in Texas
Photo Credit: pixabay

Roots require water and adequate nutrients to remain strong, so stress-resistant grass is vital to surviving the long, hot summer days. Water deeply and as infrequently as possible to encourage deep root growth and healthy grass.

If you give your lawn frequent, shallow drinks of water, it may develop weak roots that can’t sustain it through the summer. 

4. Know Your Grass’s Needs

It’s best to water your grass on a schedule, but knowing your grass is vital. Different kinds of grass require different amounts of water. Here is a brief list of the most common grasses in Austin, TX, and their optimal water regimes:

Grass TypeAverage Amount of Water Required
St. Augustinegrass1-1.5 inches/week 
Buffalograss1 inch/week 
Bermudagrass1-1.5 inches/week 
Zoysiagrass1 inch/week

5. Pay Special Attention to Areas Without Shade

Don’t expect your sprinklers to water every part of your lawn sufficiently. Water those sunny areas by hand.

Soil in full sunlight is more susceptible to drying out, so make sure you water those areas regularly and give them extra attention, whether that means employing a hand-held hose or increasing the time you turn on sprinklers in sunny spots.

6. Get to Know Your Soil and the Soil Around You

Soil types vary, and knowing yours is half the battle. Examine your neighbors’ lawns, estimate the water needed, and learn what works best for your lawn. 

Pro tip: We recommend testing the soil for its nutrient content, pH balance, and organic matter. It’s better to know what your grass needs than to guess and use lots of water where it’s not necessary.

7. Keep Up With Sprinkler Maintenance 

To avoid any water waste, audit your irrigation system regularly and repair or update it as needed. Be on the lookout for any broken sprinkler heads, water spraying on walkways, or leaks. 

8. Mulch Your Soil to Retain Water

Loose cut grass in a lawn
Photo Credit: PublicDomainPictures

Mulching your grass helps the soil retain moisture and acts as a barrier to smother weeds and prevent them from stealing water from your lawn. A free and effective way to naturally reduce water evaporation is by applying grass clippings on the lawn. Just avoid smothering the grass with too many clippings. 

FAQ About Austin Watering Restrictions

What are the watering restrictions in Austin, Texas?

The watering restrictions for residential customers in Austin, Texas are: 

• Residents should only water once a week with an automatic sprinkler and a second day, if needed, with a hose. 
• Commercial customers and multi-family customers should water with hose-end sprinklers one day per week between midnight and 10 am or between 7 pm and midnight, depending on their address. 
• Even addresses should water on Tuesday, and odd addresses should water on Friday.
• Automatic irrigation should be done one day per week between midnight and 8 am or between 7 pm and midnight for even and odd addresses, respectively.

How often can you water your grass in Austin?

For homeowners, outdoor water use, such as watering grass and shrubs, can only occur on certain days of the week. Residents should water with an automatic sprinkler once a week and with a hose-end sprinkler for a second time only if needed. 

What is a drought contingency plan for Austin, Texas?

Living in a state that faces frequent droughts in the summer, Austinites are no strangers to the need to conserve water. That’s why the City of Austin has put in place a Drought Contingency Plan that helps prioritize water supply for essential needs. 

From reducing outdoor watering to encouraging households and businesses to take proactive steps in conserving, the plan is set up to help residents make a difference. The plan is regularly updated and adjusted depending on climate and water availability, so the city can continue to make the most of its resources. 

How long to run sprinklers in Austin, TX?

In Austin, TX, it’s best to run your sprinklers for only as long as your soil can generally absorb water. This helps reduce runoff and conserve water. It typically takes 15 to 20 minutes each week to complete the job. However, pay attention to designated days and adjust the sprinklers according to current weather conditions for the most effective water conservation.

What are the penalties for watering outside the guidelines in Austin? outlines various penalties for any additional water used outside of the guidelines. Depending on the infraction, penalties can range from a warning letter to a fine of up to $500 or suspension of water service. 

What are the conservation stages for Austin, TX?

The City of Austin’s water conservation plan has stages tailored to the current drought conditions. Generally, the city manager declares the stages based on water availability. Each stage is more restrictive than the one preceding it.

Final Thoughts on Watering Your Austin Lawn

Adhering to Austin’s water conservation regulations is a must. By utilizing smart watering techniques, understanding your soil, and being environmentally aware, you can maintain a hydrated and healthy lawn that you can take pride in. All it takes is a bit of effort and knowledge. 

If you still have any concerns, feel free to contact a local Austin lawn care expert for advice and support. Good luck, and, like your lawn, remember to stay hydrated out there!

Main Image Credit: Mt Austin Road Lawn / Wpcpey / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Luminita Toma

Luminita Toma

Luminita Toma is a nature-loving writer who simply adores pretty flowers and lawns. After plenty of research and writing on lawn care and gardening, she's got a keen eye for plants and their maintenance. When she's got some spare time, there's nothing she enjoys more than chilling with her friends, hitting the theatre, or traveling.