Thirsty Grass Seed

Are thinking of planting a new lawn or just filling in your existing one? Don’t just think about it, do it! I am a huge fan of seeding, whether it is a brand new lawn, filling in bare patches, or thickening up your existing turf, now is the perfect time to tackle this project. Put a little sweat into your lawn. Mow, rake, aerate, seed, fertilize, and water… it is so worth it!

When doing a seeding project all of the above steps are important, but water is the key. If you are thirsty, so is your grass seed. Sounds silly? I am serious. The thirstier you are on any given day, the quicker your grass seed is drying out. Water is the difference between success and failure, so it’s important to do it right the first time! 

So, you just went to the refrigerator to get yourself another glass of ________(Fill in the blank with your beverage of choice.) This should be your signal to head outside and check your new grass seed. If it is dry, give it some water. Grass seed needs to stay moist every day. If it dries out, the seed will not even have a chance to split open. Grass seed is close to the surface so it can germinate, this is where the soil needs to stay damp. The top layer of soil can dry out quickly. The sunnier and windier the day is, the quicker the seed dries out. New seed does not need to be watered long, 30 minutes is usually sufficient. However, you may need to water 2X’s in a day. The sunnier the spot is, the more water it needs. Areas along driveways, walkways, curbs, and slopes tend to dry out quicker. Be sure to give these spots a little extra attention.

Is there a better time to water than others? Of course, there is. Morning is the best time to water, but the afternoon is acceptable too. The fall is the perfect time to seed because the soil is warm and nights are getting cooler, leaving a nice coating of morning dew. There may occasionally be enough dew to get you off the hook from watering! Be careful though, if it gets sunny through the day, the lawn may dry out quickly and need another watering in the afternoon. Try to avoid watering at all in the evening, however, if that is the only time you have to do it, then evening water is better than no water at all. New seedlings can get a disease called Pythium, which can wipe them out in a day if the seedlings remain too wet through the night.

Note: There is such a thing as over-watering. If you over-water your new seed, the seed may rot, wash away, or float above the soil. Be careful not to leave puddles or make mud pies out of your lawn. If this is the case, you are being too good of a caregiver of your newly seeded lawn.

It is a good idea to cover the seed with mulch. I really like Mainely Mulch. It is a weed-free straw/hay combo that covers new seeds nicely, holding in moisture, keeping birds from eating the seed, and slowing down erosion. The best thing about Mainely Mulch is you do not have to rake it up after the grass grows. It will biodegrade into the soil, adding a little bit of organic matter. A little extra bonus! Greenview’s Seed Accelerator is my favorite for smaller patches. It is a recycled paper mulch pellet with built-in starter fertilizer. You sprinkle the pellets right over the grass seed and water them in. They expand, hold in moisture, and fertilize at the same time!

Don’t be fooled. Just when you think you are done watering your new grass seed, you may have to keep going. Different types of grass germinate at different rates. Perennial Ryegrass is your quickest one to sprout, coming up in 5 to 7 days if conditions are right. Kentucky Blue is a beauty but you have to be patient since it can take up to 25 days to see any germination. Please do not stop watering just because you see a few green sprouts… There are a lot more to come.

Here is my rule of 3 for newly seeded lawns: In the first 3 weeks, water your grass seed 2 times per day for approximately 30 minutes. In the second 3 weeks, water your lawn, 3 times per week for a longer period of time, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. This will encourage a deeper root system and a much healthier lawn. Give your lawn one last treat around Thanksgiving. Feed it with a Fall lawn fertilizer by Greenview or Espoma. It will go to bed happy and healthy for its long winter nap.

Lawn & Plant Care