When it comes to watering grass seed, one size does not fit all. There is no single-formula-fits all here. Many factors play a role when deciding how much water your grass seed will need. These include the type of soil you have, your grass type, the size of your lawn, and even the quality of water you use.
In this guide, we will discuss how often to water new grass seed along with some other tips and tricks that will help you come up with your own watering schedule:
How Often to Water Grass Seed
When it comes to new grass seed, less is best. The healthiest lawns are those that are watered less frequently. This may not seem to make much sense; but the thumb rule is –to water up to an inch on a weekly basis. An inch of water is the depth that generally most grass seed need. The root systems can easily reach up to that level and absorb water from there.
Most grass seeds aren’t fussy at all about where they source their water from. So, rain water, water from sprinklers, or a combination of the two is adequate for most grasses. To ensure that your sprinklers are watering to a level of one inch, place empty cups in the lawn and allow the sprinkler water to be caught in the cup.
Next, run the sprinkler for about 15 minutes. Measure the level in one cup by sticking in a ruler. This will help you figure out how long it takes to catch 1-inch of water. For most lawns of standard size, it takes about 45-to-60 minutes of watering to get up to an inch of water in the ground.
Deeply Moisten the Soil
The best way to water new grass is to do it slowly. Allow the water to penetrate deeply into the soil. Slowly sprinkle the water in each area of the lawn so that it penetrates to a depth of 6-8 inches. This deep and slow watering encourages the grass roots to penetrate deeper into the soil so that they can thrive better and also have a better chance for survival if drought strikes.
Allow the Grass to Go Dry Between Watering
Many homeowners would be slightly shocked at this tip about how much to water new grass seed. The fact is: when you let your grass dry out between watering, it encourages better growth. And most grass types can easily tolerate dry conditions for a reasonable period of time.
Know the Signs When to Water
A good way to know when to stop watering new grass seed is by walking on the lawn. If it is too wet and soggy –it indicates that you may have overwatered the grass. Alternatively, in order to know when to water the grass, walk on the dry grass. Ideally, it should ‘spring back’ right away. If it does not, it means that the soil is too dry and needs more water.
Another test that indicates whether or not your soil is getting enough water is the screwdriver test. Push a long screwdriver into the soil. If it is difficult to push 6-inches or so into the soil, it means the soil needs more moistening. Grass blades also start to curl before they turn brown and die. This is also a cue that you need to water the lawn more frequently.
Keep Foot Traffic Low After Heavy Rains
Prevent people from walking on the lawn after watering it or after a heavy downpour. When the feet crush the grass and newly planted grass seeds, it leads to a muddy mess and also causes a wrong impression on the soil. It can also lead to torn grass.
Short Watering Works Best
If you are wondering how long to water grass, the answer is shorter the duration, the better. Short watering actually ensures greener grass. Give your grass ¼ inch of water – wait 10 minutes, and then give it another ¼ inch.
Continue this water-then-wait approach until you reach the stipulated 1-inch water level. By waiting between watering, your soil gets a chance to better absorb the water a little at a time and allows the grass to develop stronger roots.
Never Water the Lawn Daily
Many homeowners make the mistake of running their sprinklers daily. This causes the grass roots to remain near the surface of the soil and they do not grow deeper to search for water. When you leave a day between watering, the roots grow deeper in search of water and this gives rise to stronger grass. Ever-wet grass is also more susceptible to diseases.
Know the Kind of Soil You Have on Your Property
The answer to the question: ‘how often should you water your lawn?’ depends on the kind of soil you have. If you have clay or loamy soil, then you can water the lawn once a week. Sandy soils, on the other hand, need more water- up to two times a week.
Do Not Allow the Water to Puddle
Never water for so long that it leads to puddles as that can harm the grass’s growth. Always allow the water to be absorbed fully in the soil before watering again.
Keep Grass Length to About 2-Inch
Do not cut or mow the grass too short thinking that it will save you the hassles of mowing again and again. Keep the grass blade length between 2-3 inches (depending on the grass variety).
Keep the Sprinklers Off on Windy Days
Strong gusts of winds can distort the sprinkler’s sprinkling pattern and lead to water puddles in some areas of the lawn. This can lead to diseased lawn and dead grass. So, it is best to turn off the sprinkler on windy days.
Pay Attention to Sunny and Shaded Areas
This is very important to know when you want to determine how much to water new grass seed. For sunny regions, water slightly more. For shaded areas of the lawn, water less.
Newly Sodded Lawns Need More Water
For answering the question: how often to water newly planted grass seed, the answer is daily. Let newly sodded lawn absorb a decent amount of water. This will encourage deeper root growth and lead to stronger grass.
Keep Newly Seeded/Sprigged Lawn Moist
If you are wondering how often to water new grass seed during the germination period; then the answer is that it should be moist but not over-soaked. Over-watering can lead to diseases and even cause grass seeds to die. You don’t want that! So, reduce the frequency of watering and but increase the amount of water during each watering session. Within 4-6 weeks, your lawn should be ready for a regular-watering schedule.
Keep Your Sprinklers Higher
If possible, let the sprinkler heads sit higher so that they can cover larger area. Also, try and increase the distance between the sprinkler heads. The larger the area covered, the less you’ll have to manually water.
Know Your Water-Type
Not all water is the same. Rainwater is the best and purest as it contains plenty of nitrogen which is beneficial for grass growth. So, if possible, harvest rain water and use that for watering the lawn. After rain water comes Well water. Well water also contains plenty of trace minerals which are great for grass growth.
City water contains fluoride and chlorine which can kill grass. So apart from knowing how often to water grass seed, you should also consider the quality of your water when analyzing your lawn’s health.
Know the Type of Grass Seed You Have Used
Apart from soil quality, the type of grass seed you have planted will also make a difference. Here are some common grass types and the amount of water they typically need:
Grasses That Need 1-inch Water (Weekly Watering)
- Carpet grass
- Centipede grass
- Bent grass – colonial and creeping varieties
- Perennial grass
- Augustine grass
Grasses That Need Very Little Watering (Drought-Resistant Grasses)
- Bermuda grass – hybrid and common varieties
- Buffalo grass
- Fescue grass –creeping red, hard, sheep, and chewing varieties
- Kentucky blue grass
Consider the Weather and Climate
The kind of climate you live in and the weather you are experiencing can also help you decide how often should you water your lawn. The best way to water your lawn is to deeply water one day and leave it dry for a few days in between. On very hot summer days, you can sprinkle some grass tonic that is readily available in the market. This will provide nourishment to the grass and help your grass seeds develop deeper roots.
How often to water grass seed depends on several factors: the kind of soil and grass you have, the size of your lawn, and even the weather and climate. In general, you should water a newly seeded lawn well enough to allow the water to penetrate about 5-6 inches. This will encourage the grass roots to grow deeper and stronger.
Do not water too much that it causes puddles. Over-watering is more harmful than under-watering and for most grasses, less is more. We hope this helps you answer the question how often to water lawn so you can form your own watering schedule.