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Proper watering is the key for successful establishment of newly seeded lawns. Tender seedlings and seeds that have not germinated yet are extremely vulnerable to heat and drought stress. The goal is consistent even moisture assuring that the soil doesn’t get too hot or too dry. Allowing the seeds or newly emerged seedlings to dry out even once can result in failure or significant losses. Watering during establishment can mean the difference between a lush thick green carpet of grass or thin patchy grass if any at all. You should expect to keep the soil surface moist for at least 3 weeks after seeding.
The general guidelines are as follows:
- Apply water at least twice daily, make a third application if weather is hot dry or windy or if your soil is sandy and well drained.
- Water in the morning before 9 am so as to avoid the hottest part of the day.
- Water a second time early to mid afternoon, roughly 1-2 pm.
- Water every 4-6 hours if your soil is sandy, or if the surface dries out between watering due to very warm temperatures or wind.
Keep in mind that sunny areas and slopes will dry out more quickly than shaded areas. Areas near pavement or with reflective heat from buildings will also dry out more quickly. The grass should germinate in 7-10 days and different seed types in the mixture will germinate at different times.
The object is to keep the surface moist but not saturated. Allowing the soil to become saturated leads to fungal diseases that will kill the new grass and it will also make it difficult for you to walk out to change hoses and sprinklers without causing deep ruts from foot traffic.
As the new grass starts to grow, gradually cut back the frequency of the water application while increasing the amount of water applied for a deeper watering to encourage deep root growth. The goal is to eventually apply enough water once per week in one application to wet the soil 6-8 inches deep. This will be the long term watering care for your established lawn.
Long term care
Mowing- once the grass is about 4 inches tall, mow it to a height of 3 inches. This is generally at about 3-4 weeks of age
Weeds- some weeds will inevitably come up along with the new grass and this is normal. They can be hand pulled while the new grass is young so that they do not crowd the new grass out. Herbicides should not be used until the grass has been mowed at least three times or the tender grass can be killed.
Fertilization- young grass is growing quickly and requires fertilization. Apply a lawn starter fertilizer and follow the directions carefully. Typically this is a gentle fertilizer and will need to be re-applied following the label directions.
Filling in- it normally takes a full year for your lawn to fill in completely and shady areas fill in slower than sunny areas. You may add more seed to thin areas to thicken the grass there. If an area is very shaded, turf grasses may never fill in completely and in those cases, we suggest ground covers other than grass.