Having a gorgeous lawn is the desire of any homeowner, but growing a lawn from new grass seed takes time, effort, and attention to detail. Luckily, watering new grass seed can be a pretty simple process as long as you get on a proper watering schedule to germinate the seeds properly. Once you know the secrets to a successful watering schedule you’ll be ready to roll.
The trick to successful seed germination is to keep your new grass seedlings moist all the time with a consistent water schedule. Too little water will leave brown spots or, worse, kill the sprouts, yet too much water will result in seeds washing away, leaving a less than perfect looking lawn. Finding the balance is key.
If you do not irrigate a new lawn correctly right away, you will be throwing both your time and money away on unsuccessful seeding. Read on to learn how to determine the right amount of water and how many times per day you should water new grass seed. This schedule will give you the lush, green lawn you want, and all your neighbors will be asking for your secrets.
Water Before You Spread New Grass Seed
Your exact watering schedule will depend on how you plan to apply new seed to your lawn and the condition of your lawn.
Proper watering actually starts before you even start casting out your new grass seed because you need moist soil to start the germination process. Having the area moist beforehand will result in the seeds’ healthy growth.
Two to three days before you plan to spread the new seed, you want to wet the area with enough water to ensure the soil is moistened about six to eight inches deep. You can test the depth by inserting a sharp object into the ground and seeing how far down into the soil it easily goes.
If the sharp object did go down six to eight inches into the soil, you have the proper amount of water saturation for your new seeds.
This pre-watering should be done once a day for two to three days before you spread your seeds. This step is crucial because seeds need a a constant source of water from the surrounding soil in order to germinate.
If you are overseeding on top of your existing lawn, you should cut the grass and remove any clippings first so that the new seeds will be in direct contact with the soil.
- When overseeding an established lawn, you should water for about five to 10 minutes in the early morning and again midday.
If you are seeding a brand new lawn with bare soil or patchy grass, loosen the top of the soil with a rake.
- When you are sowing a newly seeding a lawn, the soil must stay moist all the time and will need watering in the early morning, midday, and again in the evening (two to three times a day).
Water the Seeds to Start the Germination Process
Now that the soil is properly prepared with a sufficient amount of moisture, you can throw out the seeds across the new or existing lawn.
You will immediately water the new seeds between five to 10 minutes to moderately moisten the seedlings.
You do not want to completely drench the area as that will cause the area to flood and your seeds to wash away.
Instead, follow the rule of thumb for watering new grass seeds during pre-germination using a small amount of water multiple times per day so that the seeds receive plenty of water but do not drown.
In order to maintain the proper moisture throughout your seeding area, follow the guidelines below:
- Provide 15 to 20 minutes of water at a time.
- Water the grass seed first thing in the morning, again in the evening, and maybe once more in between if you test and the soil top is not moist.
If you already have a sprinkler system installed this schedule will be easy to set up using the water timer.
If you live in a hotter area, the new seeds will likely dry out faster. Therefore, the additional afternoon watering will be imperative to keep the seeds damp so that they do not dry out and cook in the sun.
On the other hand, you do not want to over-water because the seeds could simply wash away or float into clumps and you’ll end up with patchy grass.
Watering in the morning and evening is best because they are the coolest parts of the day. The cooler temperature allows the water to absorb into the ground instead of evaporating from the heat.
You will need to find the proper balance, amount, and frequency of watering based on your own weather conditions and the equipment you have on hand.
How to Water the Seeds Once They Germinate
Congratulations, depending on the germination time in about 14 days you will have new grass seedlings growing!
Now it is time for for the new grass sprouts to mature from seedlings to grass, which means more watering to establish a well-nourished root system.
Your goal will be to continue to keep the soil moist while avoiding large amounts of water flooding the area.
You can continue to use your chosen watering system to keep the soil moist two to three inches deep so that the roots will mature and avoid excessive evaporation.
Now that the seeds have germinated you will want to change up your watering schedule a bit. Now you will:
- Run your sprinklers for 45 to 60 minutes per day.
- You will do this approximately 2-3 days out of the week.
- If you live in a hotter area, you may need to increase the number of watering times per week.
Your goal here is to put down an inch to an inch and half of water per week split between 2 or 3 waterings.
After the seeds sprout and begin to turn your yard into the lush lawn of your dreams, you can cut back the evening watering and just water in the morning so that the soil is moist to around one inch deep.
No matter where you live, watering any time between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. will help to avoid fungus issues.
Remember how long it takes your new grass seed to grow will depend on the type of grass and the conditions in your area. Once it is well-established, you can water less frequently which will encourage the grass roots to spread throughout the soil.
If you water in the morning and maintain around one inch of water per week, your grass will continue to grow and flourish throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons.
The Best Sprinklers for Watering New Grass Seed
How you decide to water your new grass seed will largely depend on the size of the area. Larger areas will need an irrigation system, while smaller seeded areas could probably just use a spot sprinkler or watered by hand.
Here are some of the best choices to get the job done depending on your situation:
- Pulsating-impact sprinklers – Useful for nearly any area because they have a large outlet hole that mirrors rain, they rarely clog, and they water in a full circle or semicircle.
- Oscillating sprinklers – Useful for long and narrow areas because they water in a rectangle and are ideal in larger areas where runoff may be a concern.
- Stationary sprinklers – Perfect for smaller seeded areas where lower pressure is needed.
A garden hose nozzle can work for smaller, patching areas, but no matter what you choose to use, avoid cheaper versions that may break mid-watering or during the hotter seasons. The sprinkler should also offer a consistent covering of water over the entire seeded area without flooding the seeds.
Watering New Grass Seed FAQs
Can you overwater grass seed?
Absolutely! As we mentioned about you can easily overwater new grass seed if you aren’t careful. This can cause many problems for you and your new grass. The first issue is the too much water will flood the area and wash the seed away. Overwatering is also one of the main causes of fungus growth in lawns. Follow our recommendations above and frequently check the moisture level of your soil to make sure you’re not watering too much.
When should I stop watering new grass seed?
Once the grass reaches 3 inches tall it will be ready for it’s first mow. Once the grass has reached this point it’s appropriate to decrease the daily watering to the point where you are just watering 2-3 times per week as you normally would for typical lawn care.
Can you water new grass seed at night?
It’s best to always water your grass during the day. This is because the lower nighttime temperatures reduce the rate of evaporation in the soil. When excess water is present at night you’ve got the perfect conditions for mold to grow (dark and moist). And the last thing you want in your lawn is fungus or mold.
Will grass seed die if not watered right away?
Water is required for seed germination. If you don’t water right away you risk having the seed dry out and die. It could also blow away or be eaten by birds. Even if you don’t water the seeds there is a chance that it could still germinate if there is enough moisture in the soil or it happens to rain. However, if you want your grass seed to grow and become part of a healthy established lawn you will need to water it right away.
Watering new grass seed is a balancing act. You have to keep your soil moist before germination, throughout the growing process, and then thereafter to maintain a gorgeous lawn. The key is to keep the grass moist but not waterlogged. You also have to remember that, even after your seeds have grown into grass, you still need to water since grass takes a year to mature.