Paris and Henry County's Oldest Landscape Design/Build & Maintenance Company
The single most important thing you can do after you have new grass, is to WATER IT! It doesn't matter if you have hired someone to put in your new lawn, or done the work yourself, or if it was seeded, sodded or sprigged, it needs water.
Why anyone would spend the time and money on a new lawn and not water it is anyone's guess, but it happens.....a lot.
I am not sure what these people are thinking as to why the new baby grass doesn't need water, but we will explain what the grass needs in detail here.
New seed needs three things to germinate,
1) Seed to Soil Contact
This means that the seed doesn't need to just be thrown out on the ground, it needs to have good seed to soil contact, preferably covered by a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil. Although, having seed that is laying on top of the ground is not uncommon after a seeding and it too, will germinate if given enough water.
2) Correct Temperatures for Germination, Daylight/Sunshine
Depending on what type of seed or sod you are planting, it will require the correct temperatures to germinate, along with the other 2 required components. Fescue and other cool season grasses will germinate in temperatures above 50 degrees but loves it when temps are 50 to 80 degrees, with lower humidity/ Bermuda, and other warm season grasses germinate when the temps are 80 to 90 degrees, they love the heat.
Assuming you have aerated, tilled, or otherwise worked the ground, you will have good seed to soil contact. Daylight is a given, and if you have planted or had the grass planted at the correct time of the year, the temperatures are going to be there, so the only thing left that we have to be sure of is to have Water/Moisture.
How much water does it need? It needs to stay wet. Not dry, so the soil is dusty, not muddy so you can't walk across the lawn without making deep impressions in the soil or sod. How much water does it take to keep it wet?
It will vary from the time of the year you are dealing with, the amount of sun the site gets, the amount of rainfall you're getting at the time, the temperatures, the wind blowing and if the site is flat or on a slope, rocky/sandy or clay/loam.
All of these factors will have an effect on how much water you have to put down with a sprinkler and how long it will take you to put that much water down. As a general, common sense explanation, we say to put the sprinkler out and time how long it takes for the surface to become soaked to the point that you have water starting to puddle up.
At that point, make note of the time it took to make the water puddle uo on the surface, and move the sprinkler to a new location, being sure not to leave any gaps where the water does not reach back to where it was reaching to before you moved it, and start timing it again.
Let it water that spot for the same amount of time. Repeat until you have covered your entire lawn. The only part of the lawn that doesn't need water, regular water, kept wet, until you have thick grass growing, is the area where you don't want grass.
Now, how often do you have to water? Take all of the factors I mentioned above into account again. If it's raining, you don't have to water, if it has been 90 degrees, wind blowing, and bright sunshine, you need to water, probably every day.
If a customer has an automatic irrigation system, we will set it up to water three times a day, for short 15 to 20 minutes per zone, every day of the week. This is ideal, but if you don't have an irrigation system, then you will have to do the best you can, with the time you have to work with. If you can water every day, that's great, if you can only get it watered every couple of days, OK, but the more water the faster the grass will come up, and the thicker it will be.
Once you start watering and the grass seed has gotten enough moisture, it will absorb the water and swell up, break open and germinate to start the growing process. This can be as quick as three or four days with adequate water, or can be months if you don't water at all and depend on Mother Nature to water for you.
Think of the seed as a grain of rice. It's hard until it's put into water and heated up. Then it swells up and breaks open. Grass seed does the same thing.
Once the grass has germinated and the lawn is starting to fill in and get nice and green, do not stop watering. Keep the watering going until the Fall rainfalls take the place of your watering. If you let the new grass seedlings, or sod, dry out after you have started it, the grass will die quickly.
The new grass doesn't have a deep root system yet, and it takes a few months to grow that, so you have to keep the surface of the ground wet.
After the grass has started to fill in and it has gotten 3 or 4 inches tall, you can set your timers back so you are only watering every other day, or skipping two days. But whatever you do, do not let the soil dry out, the grass will die!
It doesn't matter if you use a sprinkler that you set on the ground and move it around, or if you have an automatic irrigation system, you MUST keep the grass watered, and apply enough to do the job. Standing in the lawn holding the hose and spraying the ground, will not work! This will not put enough water down, slow enough that it can soak into the soil and get the roots wet.
After the lawn has grown completely in, most of the thin spots filled in and you have mowed the grass a few times, you can start cutting back on the watering. Also, don't mow the grass when it's wet and for sure don't mow if the soil is very wet or muddy. The grass is very tender and the mower tires will tear it out when you turn, stop or start.
No matter what time of the year it is, you must use common sense and give the grass water when it needs it. If it's raining a couple times a week, you won't need to water, but if it has not rained for two or three weeks, you need to water. A rule of thumb is to give the grass one inch of water each week.
How do you know when you have put down one inch of water? Put a pot or measuring cup out in the lawn where the sprinkler can hit it, then when it gets one inch deep, you have put down one inch of water!
Methods of Watering
Again, it doesn't matter if you use a sprinkler attached to your hose that you leave in place for a while, then move it. Or if you have an in-ground automatic system or a traveling sprinkler like the one shown below. (Available at Amazon) The Nelson Rain Train is a great idea for watering.
You lay out your water hose where you want the sprinkler to travel over, watering that area, set the sprinkler down on top of the hose, and the front wheels will follow the hose. When it gets to the end of the area you want to water, it will shut itself off. You don't have to go out and move the sprinkler every 20 or 30 minutes.
You can actually set it to run before work, turn it on and let it travel all around your lawn, or part of it, and it will shut off when it's done. You move it when you get home from work to water the next section and depending on the size of your lawn, you can water it all in just a couple of steps.
Contact us if you have any questions, no matter if we seeded or sodded your lawn, or if you or someone else did, we are happy to help. Contact us here