After you noticed some thin spots in your lawn, you smartly opted for reseeding to strengthen them before weeds or insect pests could move in and manage those spots in their ways.
Following expert advice like the kind you’ll get here at Sharp Lawn Care, you reseeded in the fall or you did it in the spring with extreme care, and you did it after a thorough aeration treatment that cleared out the thatch layer, rejuvenated the soil, and allowed for water, sunlight, and other essential nutrients to penetrate and nurture the roots.
(We should explain that the thatch layer is a layer of decaying organic matter that exists between the soil and the crown, or the top, of the grass. While it does play an important role, if it becomes too thick, it prevents nutrients from reaching the roots, and that leads to weak grass ripe for takeover by grass-killing pests and weeds.)
So far, you’ve done everything right. Excellent! Now, though, you have to manage those newly planted seeds and the new growth, and on your end, one of the biggest parts of that is watering.
Everyone knows about the problems a lawn faces when it isn’t getting enough water, but not everyone knows that there are problems that come from being watered too much. By that, we don’t mean rare events such as floods or days and days of heavy rain; we mean well-intentioned homeowners who are overwatering their lawns and not even realizing it.
Grass needs plenty of water to nurture the roots and promote lush growth, but too much water can hurt it. If you’re seeing puddles in newly reseeded areas after you water, or if you’re noticing that the soil is waterlogged or soggy, you’re seeing signs that you might be overwatering.
In this Learning Center article, we’re going to talk about overwatering and other threats to newly reseeded lawns, and we’re going to talk about proper watering.
Please note that this article only looks at watering a reseeded lawn, meaning an existing lawn that has seen new seeds planted to strengthen and thicken older spots and thin spots. It doesn’t look at lawns getting completely new layers of sod, which is a completely different subject.
Problems a Newly Reseeded Lawn Can Face
Seeds Can Wash Away
The most common problem associated with overwatering a newly reseeded lawn is seeds washing away. When seeds haven’t yet established roots anchoring them to the soil, they can easily float away if puddles form or get washed away by moving water. As a result, the seeds can end up redistributed in clumps elsewhere, wiping out the new growth where you want it and creating uneven growth somewhere else. Or they can be washed off the lawn entirely. Both possibilities are even more likely on sloped lawns where it’s easier for water to move seeds downhill.
Grass and seedlings that have recently sprouted are also at risk of being washed away because their root systems may not yet be strong enough to anchor them in the lawn sufficiently.
Seeds Can Get Buried
It’s not just seeds that can get moved around by excessive water. Overwatering can displace soil as well, especially after the ground has become saturated and the soil loosens up significantly.
If the soil isn’t outright washed away, which is a problem all on its own, then it’s going to settle somewhere else when the excess water evaporates and finally gets absorbed by the ground. Sometimes this occurs over places where there are newly planted seeds or where new grass has sprouted, and that redistributed soil can bury them. As a result, the seeds or sprouts won’t get the sunlight they need. The slowing or complete stopping of growth that comes from this is bad enough for the loss of time, money, and lawn health it represents, but it can also allow the topsoil in the lawn to erode. That erosion can create uneven surfaces which are unattractive and can be difficult to mow.
Once all this occurs, a homeowner is looking at problems that go well beyond the ones that he or she initially set out to address.
Fungi Can Create Trouble
Because fungi love damp conditions, overwatering your lawn can create a setting where they can thrive. Fungal growth in the lawn is a problem because it can damage not only new grass but established grass as well. However, it’s a particular threat to new grass seeds that have not yet established roots or haven’t yet begun to sprout at all. When fungus grows around new seeds, it can make them break down and decompose.
Another threat from fungal growth is that it can spread to other parts of the lawn, especially if overwatering continues. When it spreads to other areas, the only solution may be a separate treatment using fungicides, adding hassles and expenses to your lawn maintenance.
Birds and Other Animals May Eat the Seeds
Birds and small mammals might decide that your newly planted seeds are just the tasty treat they’re looking for. There isn’t a whole lot you can do about this unless you want to turn yourself into a moving scarecrow to chase all these animals off, and this is not a problem associated with overwatering, but it does reinforce the need for proper watering so that new seeds can establish themselves as quickly as possible.
Human Traffic Can Cause Damage
Sometimes the very people who stand to benefit the most from a nice lawn can be among the biggest threats to it! After you plant new seeds, it’s best to stay off those areas until the seeds establish themselves and new, solid growth has begun. This is especially the case after you have watered (even properly) because that’s a time when the seeds and the soil are more easily disturbed.
So hold off on that big outdoor party or letting the kids use the lawn for soccer practice. If you have to, stake off the sensitive areas to help keep people out of them. The time and patience you invest will pay off!
How to Water Your Newly Seeded Lawn Properly
When you buy seeds, they should come with tips for watering, for how long to give them before they see human traffic, and more. Please read those tips and apply them. If you’ve had a professional service do the reseeding for you, those experts should provide the advice you need, but if they don’t, ask. And don’t forget that there are online resources like Sharp Lawn Care’s Learning Center that can provide most of the information you need with just a click or two.
To water the new grass the right way, the trick is to use the correct amounts and intervals and avoid overwatering. Underwatering is usually not as much of a concern unless there are water-use restrictions in place or you will be away from home for extended periods during drier months.
Just as cooking a fancy meal requires prep time, a lawn needs preparation before you plant new seeds. Where watering is concerned, you need to water the area that will be planted to a depth of 6-8 inches a few days before you go to spread the seeds. It’s also important to make sure the soil is completely dry before spreading the new seeds. (See above about seeds getting washed away or buried because of wet conditions.)
After you’ve planted the seeds, you need to water regularly. Balance is the key here because you have to keep the soil moist (if it dries out, the growth can stop temporarily or for good) but avoid letting it be soaked. Generally, experts recommend watering at least twice a day and for brief periods. Don’t copy that neighbor who sets a sprinkler and lets it run for hours; that person is not only wasting water but also very likely overwatering the lawn and setting the stage for problems.
It’s also smart, especially in the summer, to water very early in the day and in the evenings. This reduces evaporation, and these also tend to be times of day that are less windy, which means more water will go to the places you want it to. Watering in the evening does not mean watering at night; nighttime watering means less evaporation and less absorption, which leads to conditions favoring fungal growth.
Keep the soil moist to a depth of about an inch. Don’t let it dry out and don’t let it become soggy.
Exact watering times can also vary by grass type and the climate. If you’re in doubt, consult a local lawn-care service familiar with your region’s growing conditions for sound advice.
Once the new grass is established, you don’t need to water it as often. A general rule is to provide about an inch of water a week, which is typically enough to help build strong root systems that can also withstand drought. Again, though, the best practices can vary by location, and it’s good to seek recommendations from experts.
A way to make watering easier on you is to install programmable sprinkler systems that allow you to customize your watering intervals and amounts. Most good lawn-care services can install these or recommend quality systems you can install yourself.
The Sharp Lawn Care Treatment
We hope this article has provided helpful advice about the dos and don’ts of watering a newly seeded lawn, but we also understand if it’s left you thinking it’s too much to manage on your own or that you’d just prefer knowing an expert is on it for you.
At Sharp Lawn Care, we’ve been taking care of residential and commercial properties around Sioux City for more than 15 years, and we’re a trusted leader in the lawn care industry. We can inspect your lawn, reseed it properly, make sure the watering is done correctly, and help set you up to maintain it on your own or with our continuing care.
Getting started is as easy as using our simple online form to request a free quote.