Update 1 December 2020: As a result of our dams being close to capacity, the NSW Government has announced that Level 1 water restrictions are to be replaced with permanent Water Wise Guidelines as of 1 December 2020.

The below advice applied from 1 December 2020 until 30 November 2020.

If there's one thing everyone wants in their garden, it's a green lawn. But with Level 1 Sydney water restrictions now in effect, there's a lot of uncertainty around watering your lawn - and particularly around the establishment of new turf, which often requires specialised and frequent watering. Fear not - we're here to make things clear, so you know exactly what you can and can't do when it comes to laying new turf.

A worker installing new, green, healthy turf.

If you're in the market for a new lawn, it's definitely worth installing turf this month.

The good news

There's really no need to worry - Level 1 Sydney water restrictions shouldn't stop you from establishing a new, healthy, green lawn! Not only do the restrictions actually comply with best practice for garden watering, Sydney Water advise that there are special provisions for anyone who is laying new turf in their yard. According to them, you may water freshly-laid turf for up to four weeks after delivery, provided that you comply with the watering plan that Sydney Water has developed. Please note, you can follow this plan using a hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle for new turf areas of any size. Sprinklers and watering systems can be used only on areas of continuous turf (not broken up by paths or driveways etc) larger than 30 m 2.

Watering plan for new turf

  • Week 1: Water up to three times a day, for a maximum of 30 minutes each session, at any time of day.
  • Week 2 & 3: Water up to two times a day, for a maximum of 15 minutes each session. You can only water before 10 am and after 4 pm.
  • Week 4: Water before 10 am and after 4 pm, for a maximum of 30 minutes, on no more than three days during that week.

After week 4, you can only water your turf following the water restrictions. This means you can water before 10 am and after 4 pm with a bucket or watering can or hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle. You can also use a smart irrigation system or drip irrigation system.

Turf NSW recommends watering established turf no more than once a week.

Information from Sydney Water, 02/03/2020.

Further exemptions

If you have just laid new turf, you may be eligible for a further exemption allowing you to continue watering past the four-week plan if your turf has not established its roots. Sydney Water explain the process as follows. You can apply for an exemption to water your new turf on the Sydney Water website.

What can you do if your turf isn't established after four weeks?
If you can still pull the turf layer away from the ground after four weeks, the roots aren't established yet. You can continue watering according to the water restrictions. However, if you have a continuous area of new turf that is larger than 30 m 2, and you wish to continue watering using sprinklers or a watering system, you must apply for an exemption.

Information from Sydney Water, 02/03/2020.


After your exemption period is up, regardless of its length, you must revert to watering your lawn the same way you water the rest of your garden - in compliance with current Level 1 Sydney water restrictions, as follows:

Watering lawns and gardens during Level 1 water restrictions

You can... You can't...
  • Water lawns and gardens by hand-held hose before 10am or after 4pm, as long as your hose is fitted with a trigger nozzle.
  • Water lawns and gardens with a watering can or bucket before 10am or after 4pm.
  • Water your gardens with drip irrigation systems.
  • Water lawns and gardens with compliant 'smart' watering systems with one or more of the following features:
    • Automated weather adjustment
    • Rain sensor
    • Soil moisture sensor
  • Water new turf for up to four weeks after it's delivered, following the watering plan outlined by Sydney Water.
  • Water your garden using standard sprinklers or watering systems.
  • Allow water to run off on to hard surfaces, such as paths or roadways.
  • Put sprinklers on for children to play under.

Information from Sydney Water, 02/03/2020.


Alternatives to drinking water

Remember, the above water restrictions relate to drinking water - water that comes from Sydney's dams and catchment areas to your home. At Flower Power, we're strong advocates of recycling water, and one way to get involved at home is by installing a rainwater tank. When you collect rainwater, you can use it however you like. If you're keen to learn more about rainwater tank installation, please click here and consider having one professionally installed through Flower Power!