How often should you water your grass seeds?

A beautiful, lush, green lawn is something that many homeowners strive for, but sometimes cultivating that lawn can be quite the headache, especially if you’re growing grass from seed. Between birds that think your grass seeds are a tasty snack and persistent brown patches where seeds never seem to grow, it’s no wonder growing grass feels like a daunting task!

Different varieties of grass seed can have different challenges, but a common issue people face is how often and how much to water grass seed. Too much water can drown the seeds or wash them away, but not enough water can result in seeds going dormant or being eaten by birds or rodents. We have you covered here, with everything you need to know about watering your grass seeds for a lawn you can be proud of.

handful of grass seed
Dean Clarke/Shutterstock

What factors impact watering schedules?

When it comes to your watering schedule, there are some obvious outdoor elements to consider; when it’s dry outside, you should to water more frequently, but if it’s raining, you don’t need to water as much. But, believe it or not, you also have to consider the wind. If it’s dry and windy your seeds are much more likely to be blown away, but if the soil is wet, the seeds can sink slightly into the earth, giving them a little more protection to keep them in place. If you know it’s going to be a dry and windy week, it might be worth misting the soil a bit to offer your seeds a bit of extra protection.

Additionally, while different grass varieties need different amounts of water once they’re fully grown, grass seeds are all more or less the same. The only difference between varieties that truly impacts watering schedules is how quickly they grow. Once your grass is about an inch tall, it needs to be watered less often than seeds. So seeds that germinate and grow quickly will need less water overall than slower-growing grass seeds.

Cupped hands gently scattering grass seed
Dean Clarke/Shutterstock

What is the ideal watering schedule?

If it hasn’t rained, water your grass every day — once in the morning and once early in the afternoon — after the hottest part of the day has passed, but before sunset. Having wet soil overnight can lead to fungal infections, so give your soil plenty of time to dry out before it gets dark. Avoid watering your grass seeds directly before or after a storm, as this leads to overwatering.

How much water is the right amount?

It’s dangerous to both underwater and overwater your seeds, so it’s crucial to find that watering sweet spot. To ensure you don’t drown your seeds, water them frequently but with small amounts or water. The top two inches of your soil should be moist, but not soggy, which typically takes five to 10 minutes of watering to achieve, depending on how moist your soil was to start with.

A good way to tell how much water your yard will need per watering is to find how much water it takes to moisten one square foot of your yard and multiply that by the total square footage of your yard. This can be helpful if you’re looking to cut down on water waste, but it isn’t strictly necessary. After watering your seeds a few times, you’ll develop a sense of how long it takes without the need for experimentation.

When watering your grass seeds, it’s best to angle your water hose so the water is coming from above the seeds — spraying water directly onto your seeds could wash them away. A spray attachment is very helpful, but you can also place your thumb over part of the opening to achieve the same effect.

A person holding a water hose, with their thumb over the end so the water sprays out in a fan shape
Georgios Karkavitas/Shutterstock

Should you seed your lawn in dry or moist soil?

Lay down your seeds when your soil is wet. This jump-starts the seeds, letting them know that it’s time to get growing. Scattering them over dry soil leaves your seeds vulnerable to birds, the wind, or simply going dormant. Additionally, moist soil is easier for roots to move through, while dry soil can be harder or more compact.

Soak your lawn thoroughly for several days before you plan to seed your lawn. The top six inches of your soil should be wet; this will loosen the soil and give a hearty water supply to the incoming grass seeds. If seeds are introduced to watered, loose soil, they should be able to start germinating right away.

Growing a full, thick lawn from seed doesn’t have to be difficult. Using this advice as a guide, any patch of bare earth can become part of a beautiful yard. Whether you’re interested in growing your lawn for environmental reasons, or purely for aesthetics, there’s nothing to stop you from growing the lawn of your dreams!

What grass varieties need the least water?

Grass seeds all require roughly the same amount of water until they grow to about two inches tall. Once they’re tall enough, you can switch to an adult grass watering schedule. Fully grown grass only needs an inch or two of water each week, meaning it takes less water than seeds. There are two approaches you can take from here. Grass that germinates quickly will require less water since it will spend less time as moisture-loving seeds. You can also look for grasses that are more drought tolerant, since these will use less water over the course of their lifespan.

Some of the quickest growing grasses are ryegrasses and tall fescue, while drought tolerant grasses include fescues, buffalo grass, bermuda grass, and St. Augustine grass. The overlap between these two lists, tall fescue, is likely your best bet for overall water conservation.

How long will the grass take to grow?

The answer to this question is entirely dependent on the type of grass you planted and the climate zone where you live, so be sure to do your research so you know what to expect.

That said, typically, it can take anywhere from a few days to a month for grass seed to grow. If you’re wondering how long it’ll be before you can start mowing your lawn, the answer is, somewhere between three and four weeks.

How to water grass seed during a drought

If your area is in the midst of a water advisory, then using fresh water on your lawn isn’t the best idea. Luckily, there are some great options to keep your lawn growing without contributing to water shortages. Rain barrels are one such option. While you won’t be collecting any rain during a drought, if you set them out well in advance you can collect water throughout the year and be prepared if a water shortage ever occurs.

If you don’t have rain barrels, though, or if you use all the water in them before the end of the drought, you can reuse water. Water that’s been used for cooking, especially water that has been boiled, is great for watering your lawn. Just don’t use it while it’s still hot. Water that was used for cleaning or bathing is a potential option, but it depends on what soaps or cleaning liquids may have been added to it. If you aren’t sure if the soaps you used are OK to put into the soil, it’s best not to use it on your lawn.

Whether you’re growing an entirely new lawn from scratch or just looking to fill in a few patches, you have everything you need for a successful seeding. Be careful not to wash them away, and remember that your soil should be moist but not muddy. Choose a faster growing grass variety if you’re looking to use less water, and you can always reuse water that hasn’t been contaminated with chemicals to water your grass during a drought. By following these simple steps, anyone can grow a healthy, luscious lawn that’ll be sure to impress.

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