WATERING NEW GRASS SEED
Disclaimer: We are not a full service Lawn Care company. We offer the following solely as a guide.
Correct watering is the responsibility of the Homeowner.
It's Like Taking Care Of A Baby!
The best advice for watering new grass seed is both simple and complicated. You only get one chance to germinate seeds correctly.
• Not enough water will kill the sprout.
• Too much water can leave less than ideal results.
The simple word is to keep it moist all the time. That can prove to be a complicated demand because of the numerous factors that make every grass growing situation unique. Let’s discuss your basic goal, what it will take to achieve it, what problems can develop, and how to solve them.
THE GOAL FOR WATERING NEW GRASS SEED
Watering new grass seed puts you at risk for a mess:
• seed washed away or floated into clumps and bare spots;
• seed sticking to muddy shoes when you move the sprinkler;
• soft sinking soil leaves a trail of footprints across the lawn.
So go easy with the volume of water you put down. But don't be skimpy either.
Plan to find a good balance of amount and frequency that fits your soil and weather conditions. We'll discuss this as we continue on. If you don't have a built in irrigation system, the first problem to overcome is finding a sprinkler that gives a consistent even distribution of water, and provides coverage that fits the configuration of your lawn.
The larger your lawn, the more options you have. Smaller or irregular shaped lawns are difficult, unless you can accept overspray that might go into a shrub or flower bed area.
ESSENTIAL TRUTH TO CONSIDER:
All seeds require moisture and a certain temperature range before they begin to germinate. Once the germination process has begun, if conditions change, the seed or new sprout is vulnerable and can die. If the seed or sprout DRIES it DIES.
Your mission then, is to provide adequate moisture at all times. The phase before you seen any sprouts poking out is most critical. Your commitment to watering new grass seed must stay strong. The germination time for grass seed ranges from 5 to 30 days depending on the variety. It can be even longer than this in cooler temperatures.
This is how long it will take to actually see the grass growing. Until this point, the seed, or the soil and mulch in contact with the seed, must stay moist. It doesn’t need to be soggy or swimming, but moist. Once the new grass is visible, the roots are also growing down into the soil. This happens quite quickly.
As soil moisture below ground is more accessible to the roots, the plant is not so vulnerable now. However, don’t reduce the amount of watering on new grass seeds yet. Seeds will not sprout all at the same time. Seeds will be buried at different depths, absorb water differently, or be of different quality or maturity.
Many seed mixtures are blends of multiple varieties that will have different characteristics affecting their development. It is important to keep the surface area constantly moist until all seeds have germinated.
Until the planted area is densely showing green growth, don’t allow it to dry out. The percentage of seed germination is in your control, though people often blame a thin lawn on the “lousy seed that didn’t come up!"
Watering New Grass Seed: How Much?
Sun and wind can dry out the soil surface. Trees, shrubs, buildings and clouds can shade some areas, but not others. Lawn grasses being over-seeded may provide shade to new seeds in an inconsistent manner. Some soil types will get spongy. Walking on it in this condition will leave serious depressions and cause compaction. Trying to correct a yard full of deep footprints is not a chore you want to attempt. The top inch of soil should stay moist at all times. This may take only 2-3 minutes or 5-6 minutes, or longer, depending on your sprinkler system and the soil type. Use your best judgment. Moist, but not soggy is the plan! As above, it should be repeated. 2 or even 3 times each day is appropriate if the weather is hot enough to require it. Watering new grass seed on new lawn areas does NOT require lengthy watering times. That simply sends the water deeper than it is needed at this early stage. Frequent watering is the only way to keep adequate surface moisture. But that does not mean go crazy.
Problems To Avoid When Watering New Grass Seed
BE CAREFUL AND AVOID:
• Over-watering that results in puddles on the surface.
At first, this can allow the seed to float around and the grass will not be evenly distributed. Later the new grass may choke if the roots have no oxygen available. (They drown!)
• Run-off and seed movement on sloping ground.
It may be necessary to reduce the watering time and repeat more frequently. A mulch over the seed should help reduce seed movement in addition to reducing evaporation.
• Over-watering that leaves the soil soggy and spongy.
It can take a long time for some soils to dry out. Clay or adobe soil is the worst. Stay off of them if this happens.
• Over-watering areas that are shaded and need less water while sunny areas need more water. (Usually a problem with automatic sprinkler systems.)
If feasible, consider one cycle of automatic watering on the entire area, and a hand watering later, to cover just the more exposed areas as they dry out.
• Uneven watering due to sprinklers that are clogged, not adjusted or inadequately designed.
Always check and do necessary corrections to a sprinkler system before the grass seed is sown. (Few sprinklers, installed or portable, can be trusted to work efficiently without being regularly checked.)
• Under-watering new grass seed, especially not often enough
We will gladly come out and take a look at your project and help put together a quality solution that fits your budget.
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