How to Care for Newly Planted Grass
Lawn care is never more important than during the early stages when your new grass seed is germinating and just starting to take root. Young grass is susceptible to everything from diseases and pests to sun damage and trampling, so proper care is key. Read on to learn how to take care of your grass seedlings, how and when to water your young lawn, and when it's time to start mowing.
Watering New Grass
After grass seed has been spread on your lawn, your first and most important job is to make sure it gets enough water. Newly seeded grass needs constant moisture to take root because water is what triggers the germination process. Without adequate water, the seeds will dry out and die. Grass seed only has one shot at germination, so make it count!
Your initial application of water right after seeds have been spread should be enough to soak the ground down to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. You may need to water several times in short intervals to make sure the bed is completely wet. Be sure to apply water gently to avoid creating puddles or washing away the seeds. In hot weather, be sure to water thoroughly along the edges of driveways and sidewalks, where the heat can literally scorch grass seeds in sunny weather.
For the next few days, or until the seed has germinated, continue watering often enough that the ground stays visibly moist. You can check the soil with your hands to see if it's wet to the touch, or inspect it visually. You will notice that the soil becomes a lighter shade of brown when it starts to dry out, and it's time to water it again.
Caring for Your Grass After Germination
Tiny green sprouts will appear signaling that your grass seed has germinated. At this point, it's important to ease up on your watering routine to keep the ground from becoming waterlogged and prevent the young seedlings from rotting. Focus on watering in the morning and afternoon, but avoid watering in the evening or at night. Young grass is vulnerable to disease, which is most likely to occur due to excess water during the cool nighttime hours.
Gradually start watering your grass less frequently. By the time your grass has been growing for 2 or 3 weeks, you should be watering your lawn only a couple times per week. The idea is to water your lawn less but to water it thoroughly each time. Provide enough water so the ground is thoroughly saturated, but not so much that puddles form.
As grass seedlings grow, they will signal that they need more water by changing color from bright green to dull grey-green. Try to water often enough that this color change doesn't happen, but if it does, don't panic – your grass will bounce back if you water it soon. Avoid any unnecessary foot traffic on new grass. It's ok to walk lightly on the lawn as you water it or move your irrigation system, but keep trampling to a minimum.
Knowing When to Mow
As you watch your new grass spread and grow, you might be eager to start mowing, but it's important not to mow new grass too soon. Mowing new grass before it's ready can tear it right out of the ground, and the weight of a lawn mower can compact the soil and kill young seedlings.
New grass is ready to mow when it has reached a height of about 4 inches. If all goes well, this should occur after roughly 4 weeks of growth. The taller grass gets, the stronger its roots are, and the better it's able to retain moisture, so wait until grass hits the 4-inch mark, and don't cut it too short. The first few times you mow it's best to cut off no more than the top inch, mowing the grass down to a height of 3 inches.
It's important to go easy on your lawn at first. Mow when the ground is relatively dry to avoid damaging the grass. Cease watering for 48 hours before you mow to make sure the ground is dry enough to mow without leaving ruts. Cut the grass no more than once every 5 to 7 days, and use special care when making turns to avoid tearing up the turf. It's best not to leave grass clippings on the lawn, at least at first. Once the grass has reached full maturity, you can start mulching grass clippings and leaving them on the lawn.
Caring for your lawn after grass has just been planted isn't always easy, but the results will be worth your effort. As always, we're here to help. If you'd like to learn more, contact us today to find a Hustler dealer near you.