Three essential elements are needed for new lawn establishment, whether seeding, hydro seeding or sodding.
- Ground temperature of at least 50° with sunlight
- Good seed to soil connection
Keep the soil evenly moist, do not saturate, by watering lightly once a day, sometimes twice daily, for three to five weeks; until the grass is well established. After the seeds germinate, you can water more heavily but less frequently. DO NOT OVER WATER, and do not use a strong spray. You don’t want to drown the seeds, nor do you want to wash them away.
If the surface of the soil is allowed to dry out at any time after the seeds have begun to swell and before roots have developed, many of the seedlings will die. As the seedlings mature and the root system develops, the number of waterings can be decreased, but the volume should increase so that the entire root zone is moistened, not just the soil surface.
Avoid walking on your newly seeded lawn and do not mow the grass until it is 3 inches long. Newly sodded lawns require daily watering. Also, the goal with watering sod is to make sure you’re watering thoroughly enough so the water is reaching the bottom of the sod and the dirt it is being placed upon. Within a matter of a few weeks, you should be able to lift up the sod and see the root system beginning to attach itself to the ground. As the weeks go on, it should become increasingly harder to pull up on the sod. At this point, you can mow.
After the first mowing, you may apply high nitrogen, turf fertilizer at one-half the application rate recommended on the bag. Watering the lawn immediately prevents possible foliar burn. After it’s been mowed 3 times, use a regular watering schedule of 1 inch per week. Post-emergent broadleaf herbicides should not be made to new turf until after having been mowed at least 3 times.
Proper watering plays a major role in a grass plant’s ability to tolerate, resist stress and pest problems. Approximately ¾ to 1-½ inches of water per week (including rainfall) during the growing season keeps lawns green.
Moisture on grass blades for long periods of time encourages development of fungal diseases. It’s best to water lawns from early morning through mid-afternoon. But if night is the only time you can water, even though it’s the least desirable time, it is much better to water then than not at all.
The best time to seed lawns is from late summer until early fall, August 15 through early October, while the soil is still warm. You can also seed a new lawn in April or May. Late summer lawn seeding is best because the soil is still warm (faster germination), watering will not be as much of a problem, there are fewer weed problems and the cool season grasses in the mix will have a better chance of getting established.