Watering After Overseeding

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The most important step in an overseeding program is proper watering after the lawn is verticut and seeded. Grass seed is very vulnerable to drought after it has begun to germinate. To ensure that you get the best results, please follow these tips and guidelines.

When watering, keep in mind that sprinkler water output, daytime temperature, wind and other variants will alter your watering times and frequency. The following guidelines are “rule of thumb”, and you will need to keep an eye on the lawn to make sure that your lawn is receiving proper watering. The goal is to keep the top ½ inch of soil moist for at least two to three weeks. After then, watering may be cut back to once a day or every other day, again depending on weather and watering times.

The sections below will detail when and how you should water at each stage in the process, but remember that the calendar and guidelines below will vary depending on your lawn’s specific needs. Lawns in warmer climates may need to wait a little longer in the year to begin, but keep the following guidance in mind when you begin overseeding at the end of the growing season:

Late September/Early October (Week 1)

Day 1 - Morning:

Apply seeds to the entire lawn. Water immediately with a fine mist or gentle spray to settle the seeds without displacing them. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist.

Days 2-7 - Morning & Afternoon:

Water lightly in the morning and afternoon to maintain soil moisture. Adjust watering duration based on local weather conditions.

Mid October (Weeks 2-3)

Days 8-14 - Morning:

Continue morning watering to take advantage of cooler temperatures and reduce the risk of disease. Monitor soil moisture to prevent drying out.

Days 15-21 - Every Other Day:

Transition to watering every other day as the grass begins to establish. Adjust the schedule based on the weather; extend the frequency if conditions are drier.

Late October/Early November (Weeks 3-6)

Days 22-30 - Every 2-3 Days:

Gradually extend the watering intervals to encourage deeper root growth. Continue monitoring soil moisture and adjust as needed.

Days 31-42 - As Needed:

Assess the lawn's overall health and adjust watering frequency based on local conditions. Be attentive to signs of stress, such as wilting or browning.

Mid/Late November (Weeks 7-8)

Days 43-60 - Gradual Reduction:

Taper off watering frequency as the grass becomes more established, focusing on providing enough moisture to prevent drought stress.

Day 61 Onward - Monitoring:

Monitor the lawn's water needs throughout the winter. Adjust watering based on rainfall, temperature, and overall lawn health.

Weeks 1 & 2

Set each zone to water for 7-10 minutes, three times a day at 9am, 2pm, and 6pm. This should get you started. Keep an eye on the lawn and test for moisture during the warmest times of day by feeling the ground. If you still feel a bit of moisture in the soil just before the next watering is scheduled, this is ideal. If not, increase watering. Many control units, especially Hunter brand, have a feature that will allow you to increase or decrease all zones by a percentage without having to change every zone. This feature is typically located at the upper left of the unit. Continue this watering schedule for two weeks.

Weeks 3, 4, & 5

After the seed has germinated and developed a small root system, water can be reduced. Also, at this time, the weather is typically more rainy and cooler. While it is still important to maintain a moist top surface, watering can usually be cut back to once a day, possibly less. Continue to maintain a fairly moist lawn until your sprinkler is winterized, or early November.

Weeks 6, 7, & 8

These later weeks are not nearly as important as the first few weeks in establishing new seedlings, but regular monitoring and maintenance is still required to maximize results. Once your lawn begins to fill out, watering deeply and infrequently (every 3 days or so) is recommended. Keep a close eye on new growth, and be sure not to overwater your lawn before it enters dormancy for the winter.

  • For Spring Seeding: If you decide to seed your lawn a bit in spring after winter dormancy, continue to water more than normal during the summer and during dry periods. The new grass still has shallow roots and is susceptible to heat and drought. Always remember: If it dries out, it dies out!

Why You Should Overseed During Fall

Fall stands out as the optimal time for overseeding a lawn due to a confluence of favorable conditions that create an ideal environment for seed germination and establishment. The cooler temperatures characteristic of fall create a less stressful environment for emerging grass seedlings, allowing them to thrive without the harsh heat of summer. The soil remains warm from the preceding summer months, promoting robust root development during the overseeding process. Fall also brings increased moisture, both from occasional rains and the reduced evaporation rates compared to the hotter months, providing consistent hydration crucial for seed germination.

Most importantly, seeding in fall enables new seedlings to establish themselves right before winter arrives. This means that your lawn will be better prepared to burst to life when spring rolls around instead of seeding new grass that struggles to develop all through the growing season. Weed competition tends to be less aggressive in the fall, giving the newly seeded grass a better chance to establish itself without competition for resources. The culmination of these factors makes fall the best time to overseed, setting the stage for a lush, healthy lawn come spring.

Always Water In The Morning

Watering a newly seeded lawn in the early morning is considered the optimal time due to several key advantages. In the early morning, temperatures are cooler, reducing the risk of water evaporation. This allows the soil to absorb and retain moisture more efficiently, providing an extended period for the grass seeds to benefit from hydration. Morning watering also minimizes the risk of fungal diseases, as the grass blades have time to dry before the heat of the day sets in. Early morning watering aligns with the natural circadian rhythm of plants, promoting healthier growth and resilience.

Overseed With A Professional Lawn Care Service

Overseeding is not too complicated, but putting down too much seed or improperly watering your lawn can have negative effects on grass growth. To avoid any issues, it is always best to consult with a professional, and we highly recommend utilizing any overseeding services that are available near you. Professionals with a proven lawn care track record can help ensure that the new seed in your lawn is watered correctly for optimal growth. Call Heartland Turf & Landscape or a lawn care provider near you to get that lawn looking lush again!