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Get the facts: Summer watering rules run May 1-Oct. 1

Be water-aware: Make sure you know the details of Denver Water's annual summer watering rules.
Get tips for saving water indoors and out at Photo credit: Denver Water.

Denver's weather has been fairly wet so far this year, but summer is coming and it's time to brush up on the details of Denver Water’s annual summer watering rules, which run from May 1 to Oct. 1. 

The utility’s summer watering rules have been a regular part of the summer season in the metro area since 2005. And following the watering rules for the lawn are more important than ever as Colorado’s climate warms and the types of landscapes that thrive in our area change. 

Reminder: It's still cool in May, so don't rush into irrigation season right away. Plants don't need much water in the cooler months. 

In this new era, follow the summer watering rules to care for the lawn you use, while mapping where your water-wise, more diverse ColoradoScape can take root and fit naturally into our climate, needing little to no additional water.

ColoradoScape your landscape by mixing the lawn you use with a diverse, vibrant collection of water-wise plants and cooling trees. Learn more at Photo credit: iStock/Can72.

Summer watering rules for May 1 to Oct. 1

The watering rules incorporate best practices for efficient outdoor water use that will help keep your landscape healthy. It's a simple way for you to help protect our water supply now and in the future.

  • Water during cooler times of the day — lawn watering is NOT allowed between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Water two days per week, adding a third day only when needed. (Watering more than three days is not allowed.)
  • Do not allow water to pool in gutters, streets and alleys.
  • Do not waste water by letting it spray on concrete and asphalt.
  • Repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days.
  • Do not irrigate while it is raining or during high winds.
  • Use a hose nozzle with a shut-off valve when washing your car.

TIP: Longer grass is more water efficient. Keep cool season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass between 2.5-3.5 inches and warm season grasses between 1-3 inches.

Lawn watering times 

These times are based on a sprinkler system running at an efficient level. Watering is not allowed between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The chart below is a starting point for the number of minutes to water each sprinkler zone on the days you determine watering is needed. These times are averages. Adjust your watering minutes based on rainfall, type of grass or plants, sunny or shady locations and other characteristics.

Understanding your “zone run times.

Watering two days a week should be sufficient during most of the summer. If needed, water a third day only during extreme heat or dry periods. Water trees and shrubs as needed, but not between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Shrubs and perennials need half as much water as lawns.

Adjust these average watering times for the lawn you use based on rainfall, type of grass or plants, sunny or shady locations and other characteristics. Image credit: Denver Water.

There are no assigned watering days, but never water a zone more than three days per week.

TIP: Try “cycle and soak,” or water-rest-water, to help the water you use sink into your lawn. 

Planting new seed or sod

Denver Water customers with newly planted seed or sod may water the new turf as necessary for up to 21 days. After 21 days, the seed or sod is subject to outdoor watering rules.

If you are requesting a watering exemption, the newly landscaped area should be 250 square feet or larger. It is wasteful to run an irrigation system on an area any smaller, and you can hand water areas that are less than 250 square feet. Keep in mind that you may see an increase in your water bill upon watering for up to 21 days.

Tip: Amending the soil with compost prior to planting will help to establish new plant material more successfully. Denver Water recommends that you till compost into the areas that you are planting. Learn more about the benefits of compost.

To submit your request for a 21-day watering rules exemption, fill out the Customer Care Contact Form (available 24/7), chat with us during business hours using the blue chat icon found on the lower right corner of, or call 303-893-2444.

Reporting water waste

If you see water waste in Denver parks, water use that does not meet the rules, call 3-1-1.

To report water waste anywhere else, do one of the following: