Watering Information

Water is essential to all life…too little water and we die, too much and we drown. The same is true of the grass in our lawns. Newly installed turfgrass sod has very important watering needs. Proper watering immediately after installation will ensure the turf gets established, and it will also have an impact on how well the lawn continues to flourish for years to come.

When to water NEW turfgrass sod:
Begin watering new turfgrass sod within a half hour after it is laid on the soil. Do not wait until the entire project is completed to start watering. There is no root system; so new sod tends to dry out quickly, especially if it is sunny or windy. Apply at least 1 inch of water so that the soil beneath the turf is very wet. Ideally, the soil below the surface should be moist. DO NOT LET IT DRY OUT.

  • 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 3-4 inches or you need to apply more water.
  • Make absolutely certain that water is getting to all areas of your new lawn, regardless of the type of sprinkling system you use. Corners and edges are easily missed by many sprinklers and are particularly vulnerable to drying out faster than the center portion of your lawn. Also, areas near buildings dry-out faster because of reflected heat and may require more water.
  • Runoff may occur on some soils and sloped areas before the soil is adequately moist. To conserve water and ensure adequate soak-in, turn off the water when runoff begins, wait 30-minutes to an hour and restart the watering on the same area, repeating this start and stop process, until proper soil moisture is achieved.

 
For the next two weeks,
keep the below-turf soil surface moist with frequent watering throughout the day; this is better than one heavy soaking for newly installed sod. Watering three to four times daily at different intervals is best. Especially hot, dry, or windy periods will necessitate increased watering amounts and frequency.

  • As the turf starts to knit its new roots into the soil, it will be difficult, impossible and/or harmful to pull back a corner to check beneath the turf (above water tip), but you can still use a sharp tool to check moisture depth by pushing it through the turf and into the soil.
  • Water as early in the morning as possible to take advantage of the daily start of the grass’s normal growing cycle, usually lower wind speeds and considerably less loss of water because of high temperature evaporation.
  • If the temperature exceeds 85 degrees, or high winds are constant for more than half of the day, reduce the temperature of the turf surface by lightly sprinkling the area. This sprinkling does not replace the need for longer, deeper watering, which will become even more critical to continue during adverse weather conditions.
  • During the rest of the growing season most lawns will grow very well with a maximum total of 1.5 inches of water of week, coming either from rain or applied water. This amount of water, properly applied, is all that is required for the health of the grass, providing it is applied evenly and saturates the underlying soil to a depth of 4-6 inches.
  • Infrequent and deep watering is preferred for established sod as opposed to frequent, shallow watering which is preferred for newly installed sod. Deeply rooted grass has a larger “soil-water bank” to draw moisture from and this will help the grass survive drought and hot weather that rapidly dries out the upper soil layer.
  • Look at your lawn to determine its water need. Grass in need of water will have grey-blue cast to it, rather than a blue-green color. Also, foot prints will still appear after a half-hour or more on a lawn in need of water, while on a well watered lawn foot-prints will completely disappear within minutes.
  • Use a soil probe, such as a screwdriver or large spike to determine how dry your lawn is. If the probe can be pushed into the soil easily, it’s probably still moist, but if it takes a lot of pressure to push in, it’s time to water.
  • Keep in mind, too much water or standing / ponded water can ruin a lawn just as fast as too little.