Care for New Grass

By   October 8, 2015

Early care is critical and starts at planting.  Care for new grass is job #1 once you have seeded or renovated your lawn.  It will need extra care for several months after it’s planted.

The first step using water wisely. We need to keep the top inch or two of soil constantly moist to aid germination. At the same time, we want to encourage the new roots to grow deep, so soil down to 6 inches needs to be kept constantly moist also.

Rainfall guage

Rainfall gauge

Your first watering needs to be thorough to penetrate down to the 6-inch deep root level. This will require about an inch of water. Use a sprinkler for even application and place an empty can on the lawn to measure. You may have to apply the water gently to prevent washouts and split your watering up into several sessions.

Once the soil is moistened all of the ways through, your task is to water often enough to keep the top inch or so of the soil moist until the seed germinates.

Water with a hose or sprinkler several times a day. Limit the stream to a fine spray. Too much water or too much force will cause washouts and may damage the fine roots of your newly sprouted grass.

Watch the color of the exposed soil. As it dries out, the color will lighten. When it’s over half lightened, it’s time to water. Use this trick to see how evenly you water too.

Once you have a pretty good carpet of new grass established, it’s ok to lighten up on the watering a bit. Cut back to once a day at first, then stretch it out to a couple days at a time. Watch your new grass for wilting. If it appears to droop or change to a darker color, get out the hose right away.

Your waterings should gradually become heavier but less frequent. Remember, you want to keep the soil moist down to the 6-inch mark without allowing water to collect on the surface to encourage fungal growth.

Mulch

Mulch can help keep the moisture in but apply only a thin layer.  Your seed will need sunlight and warmth to germinate. A thick layer in Spring can delay germination.  Make sure that your mulch does’ introduce any seeds to your new planting.  Bales of regular field hay may contain seeds for field grass.  That’s not what you want.  Use Salt

About 4 to 6 weeks after your seed has germinated, it’s time for a booster fertilizer application. Use a good quality timed release formula without additives (no weed killer or crabgrass preventer), and apply it at half strength.

Mowing

Start mowing when your new grass reaches 3 or 4 inches high. Wait until the soil is dry and run the mower engine fast so that the blades will cut smoothly. Be real careful with this first mowing.  Your grass is delicate and isn’t rooted firmly.  Your new grass is going to take a full season to establish a full set of healthy roots, so give it a little extra care as it matures.

Unfortunately, care for new grass isn’t always easy care.  A new lawn needs to be babied, but the time spent on early care will lead to easier care later.