Watering a new lawn is very different from watering grass in an established lawn. Many lawns are lost at the initial watering stage. Whether you have planted seed or laid sod, lawn irrigation must be done properly for best results.
Watering a New Lawn from Seed
For the seeds to germinate, the soil needs to be consistently moist and soil temperatures must be in the right range. Germination times vary with different species, but most lawn seed will germinate within 5 to 21 days.
When watering a new lawn, the best way of keeping the seed moist is by lightly sprinkling the seeded area of the lawn at least two to three times a day. Care must be taken to ensure the soil doesn’t dry out. The seeds could perish if they are allowed to dry once the germination process has begun.
Your lawn may require more frequent watering depending on the soil type, weather, temperature, or wind. Sandy soils retain less water than loamy or clay soils.
Important Tips on Watering a New Lawn from Seed
- Irrigate the soil daily, at least twice a day, but possibly more. Try not to let the soil completely dry out. If your seed is planted in bare soil, do not soak or flood your lawn. When watering a new lawn, use just enough water to keep the soil moist at seed depth. Standing water or prolonged heavy rain could ruin some of the seed or possibly wash the seed away.
- If overseeding a lawn where you have established grass, be sure to keep the seed moist by watering lightly twice a day. Occasional deep watering is okay to maintain grass health. The existing grass will help keep the seed in place, shade the soil, and slow evaporation.
- Once the seed has sprouted continue watering lightly, but allow the soil to dry slightly before watering again. At the seedling stage, it is even more critical not to repeatedly saturate the soil. Persistently wet soil can lead to serious root diseases, such as Pythium Blight, that can kill the roots. Very humid weather often has greater disease problems than dry weather.
- When the grass is a couple inches tall cut back on water to once every two to three days, depending on the temperature. Tiny seedlings can still suffer if the temperature spikes and the soil dries out. Soil dries faster in hot, arid environments than humid environments.
- Once the grass reaches the cutting height for your particular grass type begin watering deeply, but less often, so the soil is wet to a depth of four inches. After watering, don’t water again until the grass begins to show signs of stress. This trains the roots to grow deeper into the soil to reach available water and nutrients.
Watering a New Sod Lawn
The wonderful thing about sod is that it can provide you with an instant lawn. The rules for watering a new lawn are basically the same for seed and sod, with just a little variation. When sod is harvested, the roots are cut making it extremely important to lay it as soon as possible. The faster you get water on the sod, the better.
Important Tips on Watering a New Sod Lawn
- Water the sod frequently, so it will not dry out. Remember, freshly cut sod has no roots. Therefore, sod will have to be irrigated as often as necessary until the roots grow in and the sod attached firmly to the ground.
- As the roots develop, the grass can be irrigated less frequently, but more deeply. Keep in mind that not all areas will develop roots at the same rate, so watch for any signs of drought stress.
- Be careful about watering grass late evening or at night, especially with high humidity. This creates a problem with the lawn staying damp for too long. Most diseases need prolonged moisture as a necessary ingredient for the disease to begin. When watering a new lawn or mature lawn, irrigate early to late morning. Try not to allow the soil to go into the evening in a very wet condition.
Important Hint: Grasses are “monocots”, meaning they emerge from the soil as a single blade. This single blade develops into a larger plant, but it will take time. Don’t expect to have a thick lawn in a few weeks. It takes at least one full year and often two years to get thick, healthy turf when starting with seed on bare soil.
“Kentucky Bluegrass Seed For Lawns & Pasture.” Kentucky Bluegrass Lawn & Grass Seed-Grow Kentucky Bluegrass-Buy Bluegrass Seed|Bluegrasses.com. Seedland.com, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2015.
“ .” New Sod Care. Green Valley Turf Co., n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2015.
“Watering a New Lawn the Right Way.” Lawn Care Academy. Lawn Care Academy, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2015.