How Long Do I Water My Lawn?
"How Long Should I Water My Lawn?" is one of the most frequent questions we get at Sod and Seed, Inc. We can offer general recommendations because although it may not seem like it, there are MANY factors to consider when determining how often and how long to water your lawn. In fact, even throughout your lawn's lifetime, the watering regime may not always be exactly the same. So what's the answer?
Watering A New Sod Lawn
Rooting and Establishment Period
The most important thing to know about watering your new sod lawn is that after it is installed, it will go through a rooting and establishment period and it needs to be kept moist during this time. What this means is that the small, cream-colored roots you see on the bottom of each sod roll need to grow down into your soil to establish a strong rooting system. (Later we will cover why a strong rooting system is key!). Think of it this way, what will dry faster, your wet shoelace or a twisted towel? The shoestring! It's thinner and holds less moisture that needs to be evaporated while the twisted towel holds more water. Similarly, the small roots on each sod roll will quickly and easily dry out if the lawn is not kept moist while they grow into a bigger rooting system that can retain more water at a time. You will water a new sod lawn more the first few weeks, so be sure to keep your new sod lawn moist!
Note the tender, young roots in this sod roll.
Varying Turf Types and Water Needs
The turf type you install on a lawn will also dictate the frequency and duration of water. Some of our ground covers and sod mixes are specially cultivated to tolerate drought conditions such as Kurapia ground cover, our Hybrid Tall Fescue with Bluegrass 9010 Mix, Bolero Plus sod, West Coaster Tall Fescue, and Enduro Dwarf Tall Fescue sod. Other turf types in our selection naturally require less watering like our Native grass options including our most popular Native grass, Native Mow Free sod, or Native No Mow sod. Knowing how much water your sod lawn will need after the rooting and establishment period largely depends on which grass you have chosen. One thing to consider is that for the most part, all grasses will need at least 1" on water weekly.
Sod samples and turf types laid out for in-house stress testing at the Sod and Seed, Inc. storefront.
Climate and Weather
Climate and weather conditions also play a big role in knowing how much water your sod lawn needs. In fact, some turf types are only grown and sold in certain regions because of their adaptability to specific climate conditions. For example, Zoysia is most common in regions of Southern California. Bermuda grass is very common in the southern regions of the United States because it tolerates extreme weather conditions common to that area. Even within each region, climate and weather conditions may vary. For example, the weather in North San Jose may be slightly cooler due to its proximity to the bay versus South San Jose which has warmer, more inland weather. The climate and weather your sod lawn will be in is another factor that will affect your watering schedule.
Buffalo grass thrives in climates of Southern California and Mexico.
Immediate Lawn Conditions
Many people contact Sod and Seed, Inc. and say things like, "I live in San Francisco, what's the best grass for San Francisco?" This question may be more complex than expected. While there are turf types that do better in some cities versus others, taking into account the immediate conditions a sod lawn will be in is also important! For instance, a sod lawn in Oakland that is in full sun may be different than a sod lawn in Oakland in partial shade. Similarly, the best grass for Los Angeles on a sod lawn that will have kids or pets playing on the grass may be different than a sod lawn in Los Angeles that will not have any foot traffic. In addition to the city the sod lawn will be in, it is key to consider the immediate conditions your turf will be exposed to as well. Another note on this is that the soil type may affect how much water is needed. Soils heavy in sand tend to need more water as it drains faster, whereas soils heavier in clay will retain more water. An excellent precaution to take is to ensure sufficient topsoil prior to installing the sod.
Sod lawn installed by Sod and Seed, Inc. being watered after getting laid out in Concord, CA.
Avoid Watering at Night
There is one golden rule that holds true across turf types, and this is to avoid watering at night. If you've dealt with fungus, mold, and similar diseases, you know they love moisture! Some diseases thrive in moisture, so ensuring your lawn gets some breathing time and isn't wet or moist ALL the time is important. One reason watering should be avoided at night is that usually throughout the day, whatever water your sod lawn is getting is also simultaneously being evaporated by the day's conditions such as sunlight, heat, or wind. So, the water you give your lawn during the day isn't stagnantly sitting on your sod lawn. If you water your sod lawn at night, the cooler temperatures will not evaporate the water from the grass at the same rate, leaving moisture to sit in your lawn much longer for hours at a time. Water your lawn early in the morning and during the day! We recommend watering your sod lawn between 5:00 am and 2:00 pm.
Front yard newly installed by Sod and Seed, Inc. being watered. PRO TIP: Test the sprinkler system before prepping the area.
Seasonal Weather and Extreme Weather Conditions
Two more key factors that impact how often and how long your sod lawn needs watering are seasonal weather and extreme weather conditions. For reasons such as heat evaporating water from your sod lawn, watering during the summer will be more frequent than watering during the winter. Be sure to also pay close attention and take proper precautions during extreme weather conditions. Even the best grass for Fresno or the best grass for San Diego will require more watering during heat waves in the already warm summer conditions. Actually, even our most drought tolerant ground cover, Kurapia ground cover, will require special attention in extreme weather conditions for areas like Arizona where Kurapia is popular.
Kurapia ground cover installed in the front yard of a Sod and Seed, Inc. employee being watered during one of its seasonal flowerings in Oakland, CA.
Varying Irrigation Systems
When it comes to irrigation systems and irrigation schedules, there are multiple options and each one will affect your watering routine. Some irrigation system options include traditional sprinkler systems, drip irrigation systems, sprinkler systems with MP rotator nozzles, rotating lawn sprinklers, and of course, hand watering. Not to mention, there are other things to know before determining your sod lawn watering routines such as your PSI, or water pressure.
Irrigation system and sod lawn installed by Sod and Seed, Inc. in Concord, CA.
Like any other plant, sod needs to be nurtured to be kept alive and healthy. If you pay attention and tend to your lawn as needed, it is likelier to thrive. Like a wilting flower or Pothos with low-hanging leaves, your sod lawn will show you how much or how little water it needs. So, it is helpful to know what types of things to look for when deciding the frequency and duration of watering your sod lawn.
Irrigation system and sod lawn installed by Sod and Seed, Inc. in Walnut Creek, CA.
Some of the things we covered may be obvious and just commonly overlooked, while others may require more complex planning. In any case, we are happy to help decide which turf type will be best for your conditions and watering recommendations. Sod and Seed, Inc. has over a decade of experience in sod farming, lawn installations, and certified irrigation specialists as well as licensed contractors. With strong foundations in experience and formal training, Sod and Seed, Inc. will work with you to better understand the watering needs for your new sod lawn. We hope to hear from you soon!
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