How Long Does It Take For Soil And Grass To Dry? (Revealed)


Moisture is an essential element for healthy soil and plant life. Not only is water the lifeblood for grass and plants, but it also facilitates the development and function of soil microbes that enrich soil nutrition. However, as we all know, this moisture needs to be replenished when (or before) it runs out.

Loose soils like sand can dry out in 2 hours in full sun, whereas compacted soils like clay can take up to 48 hours. Grass dries within 1 to 2 hours in sunny conditions to 24 hours in shade and dense soil. Weather conditions after rain does play a large part in drying times.

That said, how often should this replenishment take place? Just how long does it take for soil or the grass in your lawn to dry out? Let’s find out.

How Long For Soil Or Ground To Dry?

As you can see, there are several factors that come into play when figuring out how long your lawn will stay damp. There is also a difference when talking about soil versus plants.

It can take a couple of hours to a couple of days for soils to dry out and be ready for mowing or activities. The amount of sun or shade and area gets cant shorten or lengthen the time considerably. It is dependent on natural factors like wind, humidity levels, and soil type.

One of the main factors in a lawns usability is the soil water table and density. Let’s look at different soil types and how it can affect the drying times.

What Makes Soil Dry?

Keeping an eye on soil moisture is very important for two reasons.

The first is to prevent drying out. Naturally, if the soil gets too dry, there is a risk that it can become too hard and compacted. Also, plant life and any water-dependent soil microbes may suffer adverse effects.

The second reason for monitoring the soil’s moisture levels is to prevent it from getting too wet. If this happens, there is an increased risk of soil erosion, plant root rot, stagnant pools, and a reduction of oxygen in the soil. Several types of microbes need oxygen to survive, so too much water would basically “drown” them.

If you find that your lawn stays wet because it has become too ‘thick’, a good dethatching could give it a breath of fresh air. I recommend this very popular and inexpensive Sun Joe dethatcher from Amazon.

How Do Soils Dry?

Now, soils dry out when moisture escapes, which happens in three ways. 

  1. The first is evaporation. On hot days, heat from the sun converts liquid water in/on the ground into vapor. The vapor then rises into the atmosphere to eventually form clouds in the sky.
  2. The second way water is lost is through percolation. Percolation is the downward movement of water from the surface to the water table. Water that is not taken up by plants or evaporated eventually trickles down far underground, leaving the topsoil dry.
  3. The third-way water is lost uptake by plants and other organic matter. Plants and grass take up water and nutrients from the soil via their roots. Water is a key component for a plant’s growth, structure, and food production.
  4. In some cases, soil can lose water through surface run-off. This is when water flows down the gradient of sloped ground.

What Factors Contribute To Soil Drying Times?

Several factors can affect all avenues of water loss, and this has a direct influence on how quickly the soil dries out.

The first factors are the immediate environment and climate. Naturally, if the soil receives continuous rainfall or watering, it will take a longer time to get dry, if at all. The opposite is true too, with hot and dry conditions causing faster water loss through evaporation.

Direct exposure to sunlight also speeds up evaporation. As such, soils in shady areas may be wetter for longer. However, a shady area implies lots of vegetation…which can dry out the soil quickly as well.

Soil Type Is A Major Factor In Dry Time

The type of soil in question is also a major factor, particularly with regards to percolation.

Sandy Soil

Sandy soils tend to have loosely packed particles with large air spaces between them. This facilitates very high rates of percolation and evaporation, especially if the soil is bare.

Loamy Soil

Loamy soils, which are a mix of sand, clay, and silt, are much better at retaining moisture. Particles in loam soil are much closer together than those in sandy soils. This results in a longer dry-out time as water percolates and evaporates at a slower rate. The moisture retention qualities of loamy soil are among the reasons why it is a popular choice for agriculture.

Clay Soil

Clay soils are the best at moisture retention. These soils have particles that are packed more tightly than in loamy soils. Water loss is very slow and, in some cases, plants even have trouble taking up moisture from dense clay soil.

Therefore, you can expect the soil to dry out within a few hours or days, depending on conditions, soil type, and the amount of water received. Some areas may receive rainfall levels that can keep soils with higher clay content wet for weeks on end!

To read more about lawns and grass try some of my other articles…

How Long For Grass To Dry In Your Lawn?

Lawn grass and wetness go hand in hand. From routine watering to rainfall and morning dew, moisture is an almost-ever present part of a lush lawn.

Most grass types dry anywhere from 2 to 24 hours. Grasses with a thick thatch can stay moist much longer due to the dense bio material. Factors like sun, weather, and lawn drainage can also change drying times from one rain event to another. The amount of water will also be a determining factor.

Of course, wet grass isn’t always convenient. 

Perhaps you want to mow the lawn, but you fear clogging up your mower blades with wet clumps of grass. Older lawnmowers, for instance, may also be prone to rust and corrosion. Even more seriously, wet grass has been known to be an electrocution risk for operators using corded power tools.

Factors That Determine How Fast Grass Dries

So, how long can you expect grass to dry out after watering or rain?

Well, depending on a few factors, it may take grass anywhere between a few hours and a couple of days to dry up completely.

Water Volume And Grass Dry Times

The volume of water received by the grass is arguably the main factor. If a lot of heavy rain falls on the grass for extended periods, it will be wet for longer. The same goes for watering. Long and frequent watering sessions will also keep the grass wet for a long time.

Weather And Grass Dampness

The conditions after exposure to water will also influence the rate at which your grass dries. If the weather clears up and temperatures rise, water will evaporate from the grass quicker than it would in overcast and cold weather. 

The weather factor also means that seasons with longer daylight hours will expedite evaporation. Therefore, you can expect grass to dry out quicker on a sunny summer day than on a sunny day in winter.

Shade

The immediate environment also plays a key role. If your yard has a lot of shade, water will need a long time to evaporate. The opposite is also true, with open yards experiencing more evaporation. 

Yard Slope And Drying Times

Another environmental aspect is the gradient of your yard. Grass at the bottom of a hill may receive excess surface run-off from higher ground, which may keep that patch wet for longer than the rest of the lawn.

Moisture Retention

Finally, we have soil moisture retention. If your lawn is in soil with high clay content, there is a good chance it will stay wet for longer than lawns in loamy or even sandy soil. This is especially true when foot traffic is involved. As we’ve mentioned earlier, clay soils have low absorption and percolation rates, which means water stays on the surface for longer.

The Final Touches On Grass And Soil Drying Times…

If you are looking to mow or otherwise use your lawn or field, look at the type of soil and grass you have. Then take into consideration the amount of shade and drainage.

For dense soils like clay and shady areas, allow around a half a day to be safe. For loose soils and sunny areas, just over an hour should do the trick.

Remember: Cutting wet grass tends to tear instead of slice the blades. This can lead to an unhealthy lawn. Too much activity on wet soil can dislodge the root systems of grass and cause problems down the road.

Here are some more great articles you will like…

References

https://americanlawns.com/why-your-lawn-is-always-wet/

https://edepot.wur.nl/216005#:~:text=Percolation%20is%20the%20vertical%20movement,water%20(IRRI%2C%201965).

https://www.plantedshack.com/how-long-does-it-take-for-grass-to-dry-after-rain/#:~:text=Generally%20speaking%2C%20it%20takes%201,climate%2C%20and%20several%20other%20factors.

Mathew Booe

Mathew has worked in landscaping professionally for over 10 years. He is a grandpa and frequently interviews other experienced landscapers and lawn care experts who are also grandpas for these articles.

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