When to Water Your Lawn in Fort Collins

On Mountain Ave, Fort Collins, Colorado

In general, a lawn in Fort Collins should be watered two days a week and as much as three days a week in the summer. The best time to water is early in the morning to prevent the water from evaporating before it gets to the roots.

People often overwater or under-water their lawns, resulting in unsatisfactory results. Here’s how much and how often you need to water your Fort Collins lawn so that it flourishes and stays green.

Key Takeaways

Water in the morning. Water between midnight and 6.a.m., one to two times a week, perhaps three times a week in the summer.

Give it a half inch to inch and a half of water. Some grasses may need more water, depending on the type.

Check your sprinkler’s flow rate. This will help you to water your lawn and plants correctly. You can also get a sprinkler system checkup.

Be wise with your water usage. Overwatering is common, but harmful to plants and the environment. Consider xeriscaping to minimize the amount of water you use. You might even get paid for it by taking advantage of Fort Collins’ incentive.

The best time to water in Fort Collins is between midnight and 6 a.m. Water two days a week or less. In extreme heat and drought, you can water three days a week.

Your lawn needs water when it turns a dull, bluish-grey color and when you notice that footprints stay imprinted on it; dry grass doesn’t bounce back easily when walked on. 

Don’t water after it rains. If you’re still unsure whether or not to water, there’s a technique to check it. It works best in clay and loam soils.

How to check your soil: Use a screwdriver of at least 8 inches and poke it into the soil. If it’s difficult to push it through, your soil is dry. You should be able to push it through at least six inches. Otherwise, you should water your soil.

Your trees and shrubs most likely need less water than your grass, so cater to all your plants’ individual needs.

Here are watering times recommended by the city of Fort Collins:

System TypeMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctober
Spray1 to 2 days per week; 2 cycles of 6 minutes2 to 3 days per week; 2 cycles of 8 minutes2 to 3 days per week; 2 cycles of 9 minutes2 to 3 days per week; 2 cycles of 8 minutes1 to 2 days per week; 2 cycles of 7 minutes1 day per week; 2 cycles of 6 minutes
Rotor1 to 2 days per week; 2 cycles of 16 minutes2 to 3 days per week; 2 cycles of 18 minutes2 to 3 days per week; 2 cycles of 20 minutes2 to 3 days per week; 2 cycles of 18 minutes1 to 2 days per week; 2 cycles of 16 minutes1 day per week; 2 cycles of 16 minutes

How Much Water to Use on Your Lawn

Water measurement
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

This is how much water most Fort Collins lawns need on average, under normal weather conditions:

Watering Needs1 inch per week1.25 inches per week1.5 inches per week1.25 inches per week1 inch per week0.5 inch per week

Your watering needs also depend on your grass type. For instance, unlike warm-season grasses like buffalograss, Kentucky bluegrass is more demanding and may need up to 2.5 inches of water in summer heat. 

For comparison, here’s how much water some of the typical Fort Collins grasses need in a normal precipitation year:

Grass TypeKentucky BluegrassFine FescueBuffalograss
Watering Needs24 to 26 inches per year18 to 20 inches per year8 to 10 inches per year

Here’s more about the best Fort Collins and Colorado grasses.

How to avoid overwatering: Watch if your soil is absorbing water. If it’s pooling and run it off, move on. If you still need to provide the plant with more water, wait until all water is absorbed.

Tip: If you’re not from Fort Collins or know someone who isn’t, check out our general Colorado watering guide.

How to Determine Your Flow Rate

Woman's hand operating outdoor faucet
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

It’s great to know how much water your lawn or plants need. But if you don’t know how long it takes you to apply that water, you can still easily under or overwater.

Here’s how to calculate your flow rate according to the city of Fort Collins:

  1. Turn off all running water in the house. This includes all taps, showers, your dishwasher, etc.
  2. Put a large bucket under your outdoor spigot. You need to know its capacity, for example, 5 gallons.
  3. Quickly turn on your spigot.
  4. Use a timer to calculate how long it takes to fill the bucket.
  5. Calculate your flow rate using the following formula:

Bucket capacity / number of seconds it took to fill it up x 60 seconds per minute = gallons per minute (GPM)

GPM / 60 seconds per minute = gallons per second (GPS)

What about sprinklers? Sign up for a free sprinkler system checkup or measure it by yourself.

Here’s how to calculate your sprinklers’ output:

  1. Put six soup cans of the same size in proximity to your sprinklers.
  2. Run your sprinklers for 10 minutes.
  3. Pour all the water into a single can to measure how much water you’ve acquired. This is how many inches your sprinklers apply per hour.

Water-Wise Lawn Care

Lawns often get more water than needed. But this actually weakens the grass, making it less resilient. Plus, it’s bad for the environment.

So, how to tackle this? Know your grasses’ and Fort Collins’s watering needs. And consider xeriscaping your yard. You might even qualify for the city’s incentive and get money back for xeriscaping. Or, if you want to know how to xeriscape in Colorado in general, check out this guide.

What is xeriscaping? Xeriscaping is an approach piloted in Denver in the 1970s. It involves using slow-growing, drought-tolerant plants in your landscape to minimize water usage and maintenance. But it can also apply to your lawn. Minimize turf as much as possible, and confine it to busy areas. Use an easy-care groundcover instead, and you’ll have a lot less watering to do.

Lawn Watering Tips

Watering may appear straightforward, but more could go wrong than you realize.

Here are a few watering tips to help you succeed:

  • Don’t water in midday when the sunlight is the strongest and the water will evaporate.
  • Avoid watering when it’s windy because the water will dry up before your grass absorbs it. Fort Collins’s wind is minimal between midnight and 6 a.m.
  • Winterize your yard early to protect your equipment and save water.
  • Use drip irrigation to better take care of plants that are water-demanding. Use low-volume, low-angle sprinklers for grass.
  • Or, for better watering control and less equipment to maintain, water by hand.
  • Lingering water may lead to fungal diseases. Don’t water your lawn in the evening.
  • Install timers, weather checks, or a rain shut-off device to make watering easier.


When should I turn on my sprinkler system in Fort Collins?

Avoid damage by waiting until the last deep freeze. If nighttime temperatures are no longer dropping below freezing, you’re good to go. This is often at the end of April or the beginning of May.

What is the best irrigation for trees and shrubs?

Drip irrigation is the best option for trees and shrubs.

Where can I get plants in Fort Collins?

Get your plants from a local nursery like Gulley Greenhouse or Fort Collins Nursery.

Find a Lawn Care Pro in Fort Collins

Learning about the best watering practices and techniques takes a lot of time and research. And there’s no guarantee you won’t make mistakes in that complicated process anyway. Why not leave it to a pro instead? Lawnstarter can provide you with a quote from a local pro in seconds.

Main Photo Credit: Paul L Dineen / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 DEED

Judith Gallova

Judith Gallova

Judith Gallova is a freelance writer who created her first blog at the age of 10. Later, she started working in marketing and eventually combined her writing and marketing skills to become a freelance writer. In her free time, she studies the Bible, goes to the gym, spends time with loved ones, and enjoys all things outdoors.