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How Often Should You Water New Grass Seed?

By Jenny Green

Grass seed sprouts and grows best in soil that's moist on the surface and to a depth of 1 to 2 inches, but watering a new lawn begins even before sowing the seed. Moisture deep in the soil helps prevent the soil at the surface from drying out. Grass seedlings don't survive drought. Soggy soil rots their roots, however, so frequent, light watering is needed for the first 30 days after sowing to maintain medium moisture levels.

Watering Before Sowing

Soil that's moist only at the surface is at risk of quickly drying out. To provide the best growing conditions for grass seed, water the lawn area three or four days before sowing.

Apply water until the soil is moist to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. When the soil surface dries out, it's ready for sowing.

Sowing Season

Sowing grass seed at the best time of year for the particular variety helps provide conditions allowing the seeds to use the available water efficiently. Cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) should be sown in early fall when rainfall often increases and the cool temperatures encourage strong growth. Bermuda grass (Cynodon spp.), buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) and zoysia grass (Zoysia spp.) are warm-season grasses that should be sown in early summer or late spring, at the beginning of their growing season.

Kentucky bluegrass is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 6, and tall fescue is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 7. Bermuda grass is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10; buffalo grass is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8; and zoysia grass is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 10.

Watering New Lawns

New lawns need water at least once per day, and sometimes up to four times per day. Water the grass seed so that the soil stays evenly moist to a depth of 1 to 2 inches. If you're unsure whether the soil is moist to the correct depth, push a screwdriver into the soil and gently move it back and forward to create a narrow hole. Pull the screwdriver out and look for moist soil clinging to the metal, which shows the depth of moist soil beneath the surface.

When the grass seedlings are 2 inches tall, water the lawn less often -- perhaps every other day. When the soil surface is dry, apply enough water to moisten the soil to the depth of the grass roots.


About the Author


A graduate of Leeds University, Jenny Green completed Master of Arts in English literature in 1998 and has been writing about travel, gardening, science and pets since 2007. Green's work appears in Diva, Whole Life Times, Listverse, Earthtimes, Lamplight, Stupefying Stories and other websites and magazines.