Do areas of your lawn need touching-up with some new turfgrass? Are you re-sodding your entire lawn? Or maybe you have a brand new lawn to sod?
You can lay new sod just about any time of the year, spring through fall. And in some locales you can even install new sod during the wintertime. But whatever and whenever the occasion, providing for the watering needs of new turfgrass is considerably different from watering established sod.
That’s because new turfgrass has unique watering needs.
It’s quite important that you cater to those unique needs. Proper watering is a very key factor in assuring that your new grass is properly established. And the watering decisions you make now can even impact the health and appearance of your lawn for years into the future.
Here are some tips to guide you in watering your new turfgrass:
#1: Before You Plant
Make certain that your irrigation is ready to go and functioning properly before you lay your new sod. That means making certain that all areas of the new sod will receive complete and equal coverage by the sprinkler system.
Pay particular attention to the corners and edges of the area; these are most likely to receive too little water. Also watch for areas of overlap between sprinkler zones; these areas often receive too much water.
Using a professional service to design and install your sprinkler system can eliminate these problems.
#2: Only Provide Water When Needed
It’s very easy to overwater new turfgrass. And it can be very damaging, too. So how do you know when your new grass really needs water?
Here’s an easy way to check: Simply push a long screwdriver into the soil – ideally between blocks of new turf. (Or you can lift a corner of a block of turf, and slip the screwdriver into the soil beneath.)
The screwdriver should slide into the soil without great effort for the first 3 to 4 inches. That indicates that the soil in that top layer is moist; no additional water is needed. If less than 3-4 inches is moist, then it’s time to water.
Once your sod has begun to put down roots, just poke the screwdriver directly through the sod to check the moisture level.
#3: Water Early
The best time to water new sod is early in the morning. You’ll conserve water that way, since less will be lost through the evaporative effects of sun and wind. But that’s not the only reason for watering new sod early in the day.
Early morning is also the time when the natural growing cycle of the sod kicks-in for the day. So watering early helps to assure that the grass has the moisture it needs to support vigorous growth throughout the entire day.
#4: Water Deeply
For all lawn grass, less frequent but longer waterings are more beneficial than shorter but more frequent waterings. That’s especially true for new sod. Deep, less frequent watering encourages new grass to establish a deeper root zone. And a deeper, more vigorous root zone will benefit the turf for years to come.
#5: Use Water to Cool
If you’re trying to establish new turf during a hot time of the year, you can use your irrigation system to help your grass tolerate the high temperatures. Do that by just lightly and briefly sprinkling the new turf several times during the hottest part of the day (or during periods of particularly high winds).
These ‘cooling’ waterings should not take the place of regular waterings. So don’t change your schedule of deep waterings.
#6: Be Smart
Whether you’re installing a new sprinkler system in preparation for planting, or just checking whether your existing system is in good shape, consider upgrading to a smart controller.
Smart irrigation controllers are considered by many to be the most significant advancement in lawn care in decades. A smart controller can certainly make the job of managing your lawn’s irrigation easier. And it can help to eliminate mistakes and miscalculations that often delay or even destroy the ability of new sod to become established.
And a smart controller such as a Hydrawise unit will pay dividends for years in providing better, healthier, easier lawn care.
Get the Watering Right…
And everything else will be easier.
That’s because applying water when it’s needed, only when it’s needed, and in just the right amount, are the keys to establishing a healthy lawn. Because a healthy, properly watered lawn will be much better able to handle the stresses that Mother Nature will routinely toss its way.
And that will make your job of caring for the lawn much easier through the years.