Penn Landscaping and Sunburst Nursery has been seeding and putting down truckloads of sod throughout Central Illinois for over 35 years. We use the highest quality materials that are perfectly blended for successful growth in our USDA plant hardiness zone.
We always amend the soil when needed for optimal growth. Proper care of the seeded or sodded areas is critical to the growth and longevity of your new lawn. Below we have shared some watering tips to help increase your success with newly seeded and sodded lawns.
Importance of watering new sod
Water is essential to a yard. Too little water turf may die, too much water turf may drown. While most people are concerned about not watering their lawns enough, the fact is, more lawns are damaged by overwatering.
Knowing when to water after sod is installed
It is essential to begin watering new turf grass sod within a half hour after it is installed or placed on the soil. Apply at least 1 inch of water so that the soil beneath the turf is very wet. Ideally, the soil 6 inches below the surface should be moist.
The first week after sodding we suggest watering every day for one hour. Depending on the watering conditions, for example, on warm windy days you may have to water twice a day. Also, make sure to overlap your watering and water to the edges of the lawn. This will prevent dry areas that you may be missing by watering. Corners and edges are particularly vulnerable to drying out and are easily missed by many sprinklers. These sections dry out faster than the center portion of a new lawn. Areas near buildings also dry out faster and may require more water.
It is always helpful to pull back a corner of the turf and push a screwdriver or other sharp tool into the soil. It should push in easily and have moisture along the first 6 inches of the tool. If you do not have moisture up to the 6 inches you will need to apply more water.
The second week after sodding we suggest you water every other day for one hour. Water as early in the morning as possible to take advantage of the grass’ normal growing cycle. Morning is ideal because of lower wind speeds and less water is lost to evaporation. Watering in the evening is discouraged because water remaining on the grass can promote disease and fungus.
Infrequent and deep watering is preferred to frequent and shallow watering. Roots will only grow as deep as their most frequent available water supply. Deeply rooted grass has a larger “soil-water bank” to draw moisture from and this helps the grass survive drought conditions and hot weather that dries out the upper soil layer. During the remainder of the growing season, most lawns will do very well with a maximum of one inch of water a week from either irrigation or rainfall.
The third week after sodding we suggest you water every other day for one hour and mow at the end of the third week. New sod can be mowed when it has become rooted. Never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade. The actual height of the cut varies depending on whether the grass is cool or warm season and the type of grass.
Keep your mower blades sharp. Dull blades tear the grass blade instead of cutting it cleanly. These small rips in the turf tissue can cause the grass to lose more water; increase irrigation needs, create stress, and make the lawn more vulnerable to diseases.
The fourth week after sodding we suggest you water every third dat for one hour. This is the time to also apply Ferti-Lome’s New Lawn Starter Fertilizer.
Throughout the rest of the summer we suggest watering one to two times per week depending on the rainfall that the area is receiving.
Most of the grass seed blends we use for seeded lawns will take 10-14 days to germinate. Some Blue Grass varieties may take a little longer, possibly up to three weeks. When seeding make sure to incorporate a lawn starter fertilizer in the soil to provide nutrients for your grass seedlings.
The first two weeks of watering are the most critical. The soil must stay evenly moist to allow the grass seed to germinate. Using straw mulch or straw erosion mat will help retain moisture and prevent soil erosion. Take precaution not to overwater causing run off or standing water.
Water thoroughly to wet the soil to 1” of water. Take note of how long your sprinkler or irrigation runs to estimate watering times for future watering. You can also buy a timer and set the appropriate time so you do not over water. After the initial watering additional light sprinkling may be necessary depending on how warm it is and how much lawn is exposed to the wind. Once the grass seed starts germinating watering can be cut back to once per day or every other day depending on how moist the soil stays.
Your new lawn should be ready to mow when the grass is about 3” high. Make sure to set your mower height so no more than 1/3 of the leaf blades are removed at one time. Also be sure you are working with a sharp mpwer blade so the young grass gets a clean blade cut.
Once the lawn is established continue watering the lawn during dry periods to help the grass develop a strong root system. A future application of fertilizer will also help your lawn establish a strong root system to remain lush and healthy.