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Lawn Watering

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Lawn watering regulations

​When can I water?

With heat fluctuations throughout the year, Metro Vancouver’s water restrictions vary. And with that comes all sorts of questions. What are the lawn watering restrictions? When can I water my lawn in Vancouver? Can I hand water my lawn? Use the following tool to find out when you can water your lawn.

Stage 1 Lawn Watering Regulations are in Effect May 1 to October 15​

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Can I water today? (effective May 1 to October 15)

Property type
House / building address
Day
I want to water

properties with numbered address are allowed to water lawns on :

Residential lawn watering allowed:

Even-numbered addresses on Saturdays
Odd-numbered addresses on Sundays

  • Automatic watering: 5:00 am - 7:00 am
  • Manual watering: 6:00 am - 9:00 am

Non-residential lawn watering allowed:

Even-numbered addresses on Mondays
Odd-numbered addresses on Tuesdays

  • Automatic watering: 4:00 am - 6:00 am
  • Manual watering: 6:00 am - 9:00 am

Watering trees, shrubs, and flowers allowed:

Any day from 5:00 am – 9:00 am if using a sprinkler (or any time if hand watering or using drip irrigation).

  • All hoses must have an automatic shut-off device.
  • Edible plants are exempt from regulations.
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Lawn care tips

On top of watering, there are other ways to maintain a healthy lawn. The table below covers all kinds of yard care tips and seasonal maintenance. In the long-run, you’ll have a healthy lawn, while adhering to all lawn watering restrictions at the same time.​​​

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    • Plant grass seed early

      Growing seed requires keeping soil moist for two to three weeks, and should be started in mid-April, well in advance of lawn watering regulations.

    • Apply lime

      Most soil in our region is slightly acidic as a result of steady winter and spring rains that lower the soil pH. Acidic conditions leave grass less able to absorb nutrients and recover from heat and lack of water. You can remedy this by applying lime, which adjusts the soil back to a neutral pH and replenishes minerals.

      Lime should be applied in the early spring and fall, at least a month before overseeding. Local garden centres will have kits to measure the pH of your soil as well as tools to help spread lime evenly over your lawn. They’ll also offer advice on which type of lime to buy and how much to apply.

    • Aerate

      Aeration is the removal of soil cores, which relieves compaction after our heavy winter and spring rains. It opens up the soil, improving drainage and increasing the flow of water, air, and nutrients to your lawn's roots. Deeper roots are better insulated from summer heat and require less frequent watering.

      Lawns should be aerated in the spring and fall. You can buy or rent manual or gas-powered aerators. After aerating, let the plugs dry for a few days before raking out or breaking up with a mower. Apply a thin layer of clean, coarse builders’ sand and rake to help fill the holes. This will help maintain aeration and good drainage, and break up compacted soil.

    • Overseed with a low-maintenance lawn seed mixture

      Overseeding gives new life to patchy lawns and adds thickness to healthy ones. Choose grass and/or micro clover that requires less water and maintenance. Low-maintenance lawns are hardier, more resilient in dry conditions, require less mowing, and are more resistant to pests and disease. Your local garden centre can provide advice on a mix of species that can stand up to a dry summer, such as a drought-resistant blend of fine fescues and perennial rye grasses, as well as techniques for applying topdressing and sowing lawn seed.

      Since grass seeds require water and a minimum of three weeks to establish, plan to overseed at least a month prior to the start of regional lawn watering regulations on May 1. You may need to occasionally overseed your lawn in the early fall to help reduce weeds.

    • Remove thatch buildup

      Thatch is a layer of undecomposed grass, leaves, and other organic materials intermingled with a layer of dead and living roots and stems. A 1- to 2-centimetre-deep layer of thatch is beneficial for a lawn – it mulches the soil, reduces water loss, provides organic matter, and protects grass from compaction by foot traffic. Thatch only becomes a problem if it builds up into a thick and compacted mat that prevents water and nutrients from reaching grass roots. Many landscapers advise a low mow in fall, winter, and early spring to minimize thatch issues.

      Remove thick thatch either in late spring or early fall, using a rake, a de-thatching attachment on your mower, or a de-thatching machine. You may find thatch removal is best suited to a lawn care professional.

    • Follow lawn watering regulations in effect May 1 to October 15

      Your lawn needs as little as 2 cm of water a week to stay healthy. That's the equivalent of one hour a week of rainfall or watering, and along with lawn preparation and maintenance, it's all the water required to maintain a strong root system. Using too much water leaches nutrients from your lawn, promotes shallow rooting, and contributes to build up of thatch. After a day of heavy rain, consider skipping watering the following week.

      Water in the early morning, before 9:00 am, to comply with lawn watering regulations and to reduce evaporation and scorching of leaves from the sun.

      It's okay to let your lawn go golden brown as the summer progresses. This is a natural response to dry weather. With proper care and maintenance, your lawn will quickly green up again in the fall when heavy dews and rain return.

    • Mow high and leave clippings on the lawn

      Mowing at ankle height (5 to 6 cm) allows most lawns to develop deep roots and dense, healthy growth that crowds out weeds. Taller grass also keeps roots shaded and better able to hold water. Aim to remove one-third of the grass length at each mowing. Cutting too much at once stresses the grass and makes the clippings too long to leave on the lawn. Shorter clippings more effectively return nutrients to the soil as they decompose.

      Cut the lawn at least once a week in the spring when growth is fastest and mow less often when growth slows. Be sure your blades are sharp and mow in alternating directions to keep your grass upright, preventing excessive thatch buildup.

    • Weed regularly

      Keep harmful chemicals in pesticides and herbicides off your lawn and safely away from your family. Hand-pull or use simple gardening tools to remove weeds before they have a chance to flower and establish their roots. Top-dress damaged areas with sand or soil and overseed with an appropriate lawn mix before weeds can re-establish. Mowing high will keep grass thicker and able to outcompete weeds for light and nutrients.

      A little maintenance every week, or as needed, is better for your lawn (and you) than an exhausting yard care marathon.

      Invasive species present different challenges than typical lawn weeds. Visit Grow Green Guide for invasive species resources and advice on removing them from your yard.

    • Follow lawn watering regulations in effect May 1 to October 15

      Your lawn needs as little as 2 cm of water a week to stay healthy. That's the equivalent of one hour a week of rainfall or watering, and along with lawn preparation and maintenance, it's all the water required to maintain a strong root system. Using too much water leaches nutrients from your lawn, promotes shallow rooting, and contributes to build up of thatch. After a day of heavy rain, consider skipping watering the following week.

      Water in the early morning, before 9:00 am, to comply with lawn watering regulations and to reduce evaporation and scorching of leaves from the sun.

      It's okay to let your lawn go golden brown as the summer progresses. This is a natural response to dry weather. With proper care and maintenance, your lawn will quickly green up again in the fall when heavy dews and rain return.

    • Mow high and leave clippings on the lawn

      Mowing at ankle height (5 to 6 cm) allows most lawns to develop deep roots and dense, healthy growth that crowds out weeds. Taller grass also keeps roots shaded and better able to hold water. Aim to remove one-third of the grass length at each mowing. Cutting too much at once stresses the grass and makes the clippings too long to leave on the lawn. Shorter clippings more effectively return nutrients to the soil as they decompose.

      Cut the lawn at least once a week in the spring when growth is fastest and mow less often when growth slows. Be sure your blades are sharp and mow in alternating directions to keep your grass upright, preventing excessive thatch buildup.

    • Weed regularly

      Keep harmful chemicals in pesticides and herbicides off your lawn and safely away from your family. Hand-pull or use simple gardening tools to remove weeds before they have a chance to flower and establish their roots. Top-dress damaged areas with sand or soil and overseed with an appropriate lawn mix before weeds can re-establish. Mowing high will keep grass thicker and able to outcompete weeds for light and nutrients.

      A little maintenance every week, or as needed, is better for your lawn (and you) than an exhausting yard care marathon.

      Invasive species present different challenges than typical lawn weeds. Visit Grow Green Guide for invasive species resources and advice on removing them from your yard.

    • Apply lime

      Most soil in our region is slightly acidic as a result of steady winter and spring rains that lower the soil pH. Acidic conditions leave grass less able to absorb nutrients and recover from heat and lack of water. You can remedy this by applying lime, which adjusts the soil back to a neutral pH and replenishes minerals.

      Lime should be applied in the early spring and fall, at least a month before overseeding. Local garden centres will have kits to measure the pH of your soil as well as tools to help spread lime evenly over your lawn. They’ll also offer advice on which type of lime to buy and how much to apply.

    • Aerate

      Aeration is the removal of soil cores, which relieves compaction after our heavy winter and spring rains. It opens up the soil, improving drainage and increasing the flow of water, air, and nutrients to your lawn's roots. Deeper roots are better insulated from summer heat and require less frequent watering.

      Lawns should be aerated in the spring and fall. You can buy or rent manual or gas-powered aerators. After aerating, let the plugs dry for a few days before raking out or breaking up with a mower. Apply a thin layer of clean, coarse builders’ sand and rake to help fill the holes. This will help maintain aeration and good drainage, and break up compacted soil.

    • Overseed with a low-maintenance lawn seed mixture

      Overseeding gives new life to patchy lawns and adds thickness to healthy ones. Choose grass and/or micro clover that requires less water and maintenance. Low-maintenance lawns are hardier, more resilient in dry conditions, require less mowing, and are more resistant to pests and disease. Your local garden centre can provide advice on a mix of species that can stand up to a dry summer, such as a drought-resistant blend of fine fescues and perennial rye grasses, as well as techniques for applying topdressing and sowing lawn seed.

      Since grass seeds require water and a minimum of three weeks to establish, plan to overseed at least a month prior to the start of regional lawn watering regulations on May 1. You may need to occasionally overseed your lawn in the early fall to help reduce weeds.

    • Remove thatch buildup

      Thatch is a layer of undecomposed grass, leaves, and other organic materials intermingled with a layer of dead and living roots and stems. A 1- to 2-centimetre-deep layer of thatch is beneficial for a lawn – it mulches the soil, reduces water loss, provides organic matter, and protects grass from compaction by foot traffic. Thatch only becomes a problem if it builds up into a thick and compacted mat that prevents water and nutrients from reaching grass roots. Many landscapers advise a low mow in fall, winter, and early spring to minimize thatch issues.

      Remove thick thatch either in late spring or early fall, using a rake, a de-thatching attachment on your mower, or a de-thatching machine. You may find thatch removal is best suited to a lawn care professional.

    • Follow lawn watering regulations in effect May 1 to October 15

      Your lawn needs as little as 2 cm of water a week to stay healthy. That's the equivalent of one hour a week of rainfall or watering, and along with lawn preparation and maintenance, it's all the water required to maintain a strong root system. Using too much water leaches nutrients from your lawn, promotes shallow rooting, and contributes to build up of thatch. After a day of heavy rain, consider skipping watering the following week.

      Water in the early morning, before 9:00 am, to comply with lawn watering regulations and to reduce evaporation and scorching of leaves from the sun.

      It's okay to let your lawn go golden brown as the summer progresses. This is a natural response to dry weather. With proper care and maintenance, your lawn will quickly green up again in the fall when heavy dews and rain return.

    • Mow high and leave clippings on the lawn

      Mowing at ankle height (5 to 6 cm) allows most lawns to develop deep roots and dense, healthy growth that crowds out weeds. Taller grass also keeps roots shaded and better able to hold water. Aim to remove one-third of the grass length at each mowing. Cutting too much at once stresses the grass and makes the clippings too long to leave on the lawn. Shorter clippings more effectively return nutrients to the soil as they decompose.

      Cut the lawn at least once a week in the spring when growth is fastest and mow less often when growth slows. Be sure your blades are sharp and mow in alternating directions to keep your grass upright, preventing excessive thatch buildup.

    • Weed regularly

      Keep harmful chemicals in pesticides and herbicides off your lawn and safely away from your family. Hand-pull or use simple gardening tools to remove weeds before they have a chance to flower and establish their roots. Top-dress damaged areas with sand or soil and overseed with an appropriate lawn mix before weeds can re-establish. Mowing high will keep grass thicker and able to outcompete weeds for light and nutrients.

      A little maintenance every week, or as needed, is better for your lawn (and you) than an exhausting yard care marathon.

      Invasive species present different challenges than typical lawn weeds. Visit Grow Green Guide for invasive species resources and advice on removing them from your yard.

    • Plan ahead

      Before spring, consider your best choices for a lawn that will serve its purpose while thriving in the summer heat. Will your lawn receive more shade than sun? Is it a place for play that needs to hold up to heavy foot traffic, or could a low-maintenance clover blend lawn be the solution?

      Plan when you will implement lawn care steps, and add them to your calendar. Make sure you consider regional lawn watering regulations, which extend from May 1 to October 15.

Chafer beetle in Metro Vancouver

A healthy lawn is the best defence against chafer beetle, an invasive insect that has damaged lawns throughout the region.

 Learn more about chafer beetle and how to treat it within the lawn watering regulations.

Grow Green – An online guide to sustainable gardening

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced green thumb, Metro Vancouver’s Grow Green Guide can help you create a beautiful, sustainable outdoor space with a positive impact on our local environment. In collaboration with UBC Botanical Garden, Metro Vancouver has compiled an extensive selection of plants that thrive in our local climate, without needing lots of water or chemicals.

Whether you’re working in a yard, or containers on your apartment balcony, Grow Green’s practical approach to sustainable gardening offers great ideas and practical solutions for attractive, healthy lawns and gardens.

Thank you to the following organizations who have contributed content to this site:

The information on this website is provided for the user's convenience only as a basic starting point.

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