Winter Watering – How Much Is Enough?

While there’s no perfect answer to how much you should water in winter, there are some key conditions and observations to consider.

As homeowners watch their landscapes enter winter dormancy, many wonder, “How much do I need to water my landscape this winter?”

While there’s no perfect answer, there are some key conditions and observations to consider:

    1. Is it raining regularly?

Normally, a standard winter recommendation is to apply ½ inch of water once every four weeks, in the absence of rainfall, for warm season grass like St. Augustine. However, significant rainfall is enough to delay irrigation for at least three weeks in the winter, sometimes more.

    1. How deep is the soil beneath my landscape?

Soil depth is very important for the water needs of plants and grass during the winter. Soil at least 6 inches deep holds moisture longer, requiring little-to-no supplemental water. Turf areas with soil less than 6 inches deep may require additional irrigation.

    1. What kinds of plants are being watered?

Native and adapted non-native shrubs and trees require much less water than grasses in winter. If water is needed, use a hand-held hose to apply water directly to individual shrubs and trees.

    1. How will irrigation impact my sewer bill?

Sewer bills are calculated based on water use during the winter months. The less water you use during this period, known as winter averaging, the lower your sewer bill will be for the following year.

During most winters, supplemental watering is not necessary. Think about your landscape (and your sewer bill!) before adding additional water in the winter.

Picture of Brad Wier
Brad Wier
Brad Wier is a SAWS conservation planner. Years in South Texas landscaping and public horticulture gave him a lasting enthusiasm for native plants that don’t die when sprinklers -- and gardeners -- break down. He’d rather save time and water for kayaking and tubing. He is a former kilt model, and hears hummingbirds.
Dig Deeper

Find expert advice on garden basics, landscape design, watering and year-round maintenance.