Laying new turf can transform your garden from drab to fab. But, the real job is in taking care of the turf to ensure that it flourishes and watering is just one aspect of tending to your new lawn. We’ve gathered some tips for watering new turf to help you make yours a success right from the start.
watering a new lawn
1. Water new turf immediately
When turf is harvested, large portions of the grass roots are cut. As such, the turf is left with very shallow roots that are unable to draw water and nutrients from the soil on their own. This is why it is important to avail enough water for new turf—to make it easy for roots to access water, encourage root growth and prevent the turves from shrinking and dying off.
Gardening pros agree that you should water your turf immediately after installation. Do not wait until the next day as the turves might be too far gone to revive them even with an intensive watering session.
2. Apply enough water in every spot
The corners and edges of a garden tend to be forgotten and are therefore more likely to dry out. Spots that are close to buildings will also dry out because heat is reflected back to the ground. Keep your new lawn from drying out by moving the sprinkler around as often as is necessary to ensure that every spot is covered.
3. Ensure that the water penetrates deep into the soil
Water should seep into the soil at least six inches deep. On the first day, avail at least 1 inch of water to saturate the soil underneath the turf. This ensures that the roots can access the water they need to become established and to grow. This method of watering is known as deep watering.
Be sure to check that water is actually filtering down into the soil. To check for moisture, flip a corner of the turf and insert a nail into the soil. The nail should push in easily, showing that the soil has enough water, otherwise, you will need to apply more water to the soil.
4. Provide enough water
When it comes to new turf, you are better off availing too much water than underwatering the grass.
Water your new lawn for at least 30 minutes per session for the next two months and do not worry if pools of water gather on top of the lawn. The soil will absorb all of this water a few minutes after you are done watering. Ideally, your lawn should get at least 6 inches of water per session.
Plan to water for longer during summer when your lawn loses plenty of water. Adjust the water supply during the rainy season.
Avoid overwatering your turf though. Availing more water than the turf can absorb can lead to problems such as the proliferation of weeds, mold, and weakening of the roots. Too much water will also wash away the fertilizer so you will need to reapply fertilizer not to mention that overwatering is a waste of water, time and money!
5. Timing is everything
When watering turf, you want the water to gradually percolate into the soil as opposed to the water evaporating. For this to happen, you have to be smart about your timing. The best time to water new turf is early in the morning before the sun is fully out or late in the evening as the sun is setting.
A best practice is to water your new turf twice a day every day. This is especially important if you lay the new turf during summer when evaporation occurs more rapidly. You should still water the lawn even if it rains to ensure that the soil under the turf is wet through and through.
6. Combat dry patches with spot watering
Inspect your lawn often, especially in the first two weeks after installation and check for dry patches. Sometimes, moving your sprinkler is not an option or some areas of the garden might be too hidden or awkward for the sprinkler to reach. In this case, do not just neglect those areas. Instead, use a handheld sprayer to ensure that these nooks and crannies actually get as much water as is needed for their growth.
7. Watch out for signs of under-watering
Due to the high demand for water, especially in the first 14 weeks of installation, turf can easily dry out and catch you by surprise if you are not rigorous with your watering schedule.
You should keep a keen eye on your new lawn to check for early signs of drying so that you can resolve the problem before it gets out of hand.
Watch out for signs of shrinkage. Shrinkage happens when turves do not receive enough water. When this happens, the turves will start to pull away from each other, leaving larger gaps in between themselves.
Be wary of greying areas on the lawn. This is a sign that your turf is not only under-watered but isn’t recovering well enough after being prematurely being stepped on.
8. Check for overwatering
Just as it is possible to under-water new turf, applying too much water can also happen and this too has its own consequences.
Too much water can cause root rot and keep roots from growing. You might be surprised to find that after diligently watering your turf the grass still won’t grow- the problem could be overwatering.
Check for signs of rot, mold, fungus or browning, which are all indications that the soil is oversaturated with water. If the lawn is getting more water than it can absorb, you will notice that the grass feels spongy or slimy.
Remedy an overwatered lawn by adjusting your water system to apply just the required amount of water that the lawn needs. You might have to stop watering the turf for a day or two to allow the water to be completely filtered into the soil.
Extended Tips For Caring for New Turf
Watering is an important aspect of your turf’s growth and development. But, you also need to take other steps to care for your lawn. Here are a few ideas:
Mow your lawn at the right time
As eager as you might be to use your new garden, it is strongly recommended that you stay out of the turf for at least two weeks after installation. This will give the new grass a chance to grow and establish its roots.
When it comes to mowing, you can do so two weeks after laying turf. If possible, set your mower at a cutting height of about inches—too much cutting can destroy the grass and roots, making it difficult for the grass to grow back.
Be sure to use the right mower. If possible, opt for a walk-behind mower instead of a riding mower. A walk-behind mower is light and it will not damage the growing grass. A riding mower is heavier and is best suited for established lawns that will not tear up under the weight.
Water turf in sections
If you have a lot of turf to lie in one day, it is best to start watering your garden in portions. Don’t wait to complete the entire project and then water later—this will result in the turf drying out especially if it is hot outside. As soon as you lay a few rolls, water them as you continue installing turf in the rest of the garden.
New turf requires fertilizer to remain healthy. It is important to follow best practices when feeding newly installed turf. During the growing season, we recommend feeding your lawn at least three times. New turf is still developing its root system and it will therefore require a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer that will aid in proper growth and development.
Deal with weeds and bugs at the right time
New turf is as prone to weed and bugs, as is an established lawn. The secret to keeping weeds and critters off your lawn is to take timed action. Most types of soils already have dormant weed seeds that will sprout when the conditions are right.
You might be tempted to want to get rid of weeds immediately you see them popping up in your new lawn but we recommend that you wait until you have mowed your new turfgrass at least 4 times. New grass is sensitive to herbicides or weed-killers so it is best to give the new turf at least 6 weeks or 4 mowing sessions before applying any weed killing products.
Investing in new turf for your garden is a smart decision but this kind of landscaping is also extremely prone to drying. If you want a healthy, verdant lawn, you cannot get around the watering best practices that we have outlined for you here. The good news is that once it is established, turfgrass is quite low-maintenance and you should be able to spend more time enjoying your lawn than tending to it.
Have you recently installed new turf? How have you been caring for your new lawn? Please leave your comments and any questions you might have—we’d love to hear from you!