Planting grass seed or laying sod is like giving your lawn a fresh, new beginning. However, grass seed, in particular, can be very fragile. It’s important to follow guidelines to help promote growth, strength, and durability as the grass takes root.
Whether you’re establishing an entirely new lawn or repairing sections of a damaged one, a critical step in helping your grass grow is through watering. Unsure how much to water? Here are some tips and guidelines for you to follow.
Watering grass seed
When watering new grass seed, it’s important that you don’t allow the water to pool or puddle on the surface. You run the risk of washing away the seed or seedlings.
To make sure you are giving the soil enough water, invest in a good, reliable soil moisture reader. Another effective tool is a screwdriver. You can insert it into the ground, and when you pull it out, there should be dirt on the tool. If it’s wet, you’ve given it enough moisture; if not, water a bit more and test again.
These are some additional guidelines to follow until your grass seed becomes established:
Weeks 1-3: Water 6-7 days per week until the ground is saturated.
Weeks 3-4: Saturate the ground every other day.
Weeks 5-6: Water every 2-3 days until the ground is saturated.
Once the seedlings have grown between 3 to 3.5″ tall, you can now mow using the highest blade setting available. Make sure the ground is completely dry before cutting to avoid causing ruts in the new grass.
Week 7: Apply fertilizer, either a 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 mixture. The type and amount vary based on weather conditions. Continue watering every 2-3 days.
Some seedlings may not germinate, and that’s to be expected. You can always over-seed the area the following season to fill in any bare spots.
Watering new sod
When watering new sod, infrequent and deep watering is preferred, as it takes advantage of the turf’s growing cycle.
Make sure the water is getting to all areas of the sod, not just the main part. The corners and edges are often easily missed by sprinklers, and these areas tend to dry out faster. Also, sod near buildings, curbs, or walkways may require additional watering.
When watering new sod, if it starts to puddle or pool, stop for approximately 30 minutes, let the ground absorb the excess water, and then continue until all areas are watered thoroughly.
As with watering grass seed, a good soil moisture meter is helpful to monitor whether you are watering enough. You can also use a screwdriver to test the soil. When the turf is new, insert the tool 3-4″ into the ground and then pull it out. The dirt on the tool should be wet. If not, continue watering.
Once the turf’s roots become established, do not pull back on the sod anymore. Instead, insert the meter or screwdriver directly into the grass and test it as noted above.