Watering your new lawn
Watering your lawn within 20-30minutes after installation is critical. Your lawn should receive atleast 20-25ml of water making sure no corners or edges are missed as they will dry out and die off quickly, especially in warmer weather. To make sure you are providing your lawn with enough water, place a straight sided container or rain gauge onto your lawn to get an indication of how much you’re watering.
If you are laying turf over a large area on a hot day, start watering after you have laid a small section or half the area. The idea is to keep the soil underneath the turf moist until the root system has been established into the underlay- about 4-5 weeks in cooler months and 2-3 weeks in warmer months.
A correct lawn care watering program for new lawns will always remain the judgement call of the lawn owner when following the most important rule of maintaining a moist lawn at all times.
In warmer weather, especially during hot summer days, newly laid turf will require a lot more water than if it were laid during the cooler months of winter. It is crucial during the initial establishment stage to monitor your soil moisture making sure the first 10cm of soil beneath your lawn is always moist. In very hot or windy weather your turf will require more water than on still, cooler days so it is vital to watch the leaf of your grass looking for any thinning out. If thinning out occurs, you will need to increase your watering.
Week 1-2: 2-4 times a day (early morning, mid-morning, late afternoon, evening)
Week 3-4: 1-2 times every second day (weather and soil dependent)
Week 5-6: 2 times a week (deep soaking)
Week 7+: Once a week (deep soaking 15-20ml)
Above is a guide to watering your newly laid turf in the warmer months, however, it must be noted that weather conditions and soil properties will play a major role in the water requirements for your lawn.
On windy days, your lawn will dry out quicker as it increases the evaporation rates of the grass blades so will require more frequent watering to maintain moisture in the soil and grass roots.
Be aware the type of soil you have will determine how fast or slow the water you put onto your turf will drain away. The ideal soil ratio for your lawn is a 60% sand 40%soil combination and soils will higher sand percentages will mean your soil will drain quicker and dry out before soils with higher clay content.
The idea that turf cannot be laid in the winter months is an idea that many people have gotten wrong over the years. In truth turf can be laid all year round with there being benefits to laying down a new lawn during the cooler months.
The fact that your new lawn will require significantly less water in cooler months compared to summer is attractive to those with busy work schedules and family life. Although a new lawn still needs some water to establish successfully in winter, the amount required is nearly halved meaning less water usage, time, and effort to maintain a healthy new lawn ready to thrive in the spring.
Week 1-2: 1-2 times a day (early morning, mid-afternoon)
Week 3-4: Once a day– every second day (weather and soil dependent)
Week 5-6: once a week (deep soaking)
Week 7+: Once every 7-10 (deep soaking 15-20ml)
Once your lawn has established it root system you can begin to follow the “Watering established lawn” below.
Watering Established lawn
How do you know when to water your established lawn? It’s easy, water your grass when you see these three signs:
- Curled up leaf blades in the evening (wilting blades during the highest heat of midday sun is not a good indicator – always check the condition of the leaves in the evening).
- Blue-grey colour instead of green.
- Footprints or lawn mower tire tracks remain visible long after being made.
But remember none of the above signs indicate your lawn is about to die. Your turf has the ability to turn brown and go dormant but stay alive for three to four weeks during periods of long dry.
However, if you go for three to four-weeks without rain, water the grass long enough to moisten the top 12cm of soil – this keeps the grass alive.
Watering at the right time
The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning before it gets hot.
Most of the water will be absorbed to the roots, and the grass blades will dry quickly, preventing disease problems.
The rule to remember is infrequent and deep watering in the early morning for 10 to 15 minutes is preferable for your lawn because the roots will only grow as deep as the most frequently available water supply.
Watering in Drought Conditions and Water Restrictions
Many lawns across Australia will at some stage suffer from drought or water restrictions. You water your lawn during drought conditions when the leaf blades start to wilt. A dormant lawn will respond to deep watering or rainfall. By watering your lawn thoroughly and deeply you encourage the development of strong root growth in your lawn. Many lawns across Australia will at some stage suffer from drought or water restrictions – but there are easy tips that help keep watering to a minimum. In Australia, most lawns are warm season grasses meaning they are very hardy and need very little water to survive. Warm season grasses include, Buffalo, Kikuyu, Couch and Zoysias. When temperatures are high turf naturally enters a state of dormancy where they start to shut down tissue growth to prevent moisture loss.
Water restrictions are a constant burden on lawn owners in Australia. The good news is you can still maintain a healthy lawn during water restrictions. It is important to always check with your Council regarding the level of your water restrictions and how often you can water.
Is your lawn dormant or dead?
Dormancy is the natural survival mechanism that allows your turf to stay alive longer when under stress. Generally, most warm season grasses will sit dormant until the next watering or rainfall. Most importantly – the difference between dormant and dead turf is found by looking at the lawn’s crown at the base of the leaves. The crown generally sits at the soil line and is also where the shoot and root section of the grass meet. The turf’s crown is a highly active growing point that pushes the stem (the leaf blades) upward. If the lawn’s crown is white to off white, then there is a high chance that the plant is still alive (see image left). A dead lawn appears dry, brown and brittle across the plant from the leaves down to the base of the crown.
Water less frequency – thoroughly and deeply
By watering your lawn thoroughly and deeply you encourage the development of strong root growth in your lawn. Lawn stays moist and hydrated for longer when watered deeply. If you are short of water only water parts of the lawn that are drying out and under stress. It is advised to water your lawn early in the morning between 6am and 10am. Evening watering can induce humidity to occur overnight resulting in fungal problems.
If water restrictions occur in your region, make sure you adhere to the watering requirements based on your restriction level – check with your local water authority for more details.
Apply a Wetting Agent
Apply a wetting agent to your lawn to improve water absorption. After long periods of dry, lawns become dehydrated and the soil struggles to absorb water. A wetting agent helps break down the soil’s surface tension and allow water to soak through.
Watering with Grey Water?
Grey Water is a very viable alternative to watering your lawn during summer or more importantly water restrictions. Grey Water consists of wastewater from your showers, baths, spas, hand basins, laundry tubs, washing machines, dishwashers, and kitchen sinks.
Grey Water DOES NOT include the water from your toilet.