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Watering newly seeded lawns

The new seedbed must always be kept moist. This can be achieved by light frequent watering, at least once, and as much as three times per day. Weather will dictate the frequency of the watering. This type of watering must be continued until the entire lawn has approximately two inches of growth, or until the first cutting. DO NOT over water to the point of run off. This will cause erosion and the loss of seed. Water the lawn at a rate that the soil can absorb the water; one should not see any puddling.

Watering Newly Established Lawns

After approximately the first cutting, one must change the watering practice from light frequent watering to less frequent but deeper watering. The goal is to water the turf to promote deep root growth. Again do not over water to the point of run off and only water at a rate that the soil can absorb the water. Never let the lawn wilt. If the lawn starts to wilt, water immediately. DO NOT let it reach a permanent wilting point. This means the lawn will die. All areas of turf should receive one inch of water to be considered deep watering. It is best to water in the morning hours when evaporation losses are low and the grass leaves dry quickly. Watering in the evening does not allow time for the grass leaves to dry and creates an environment conducive to disease development.

Never let the lawn wilt.

Watering Established Lawns

Proper watering practices are essential to maintaining a thick lush lawn. Over watering is not good practice because it causes shallow rooting, run off, and could possibly leave the grass plants susceptible to a wide range of turf disease (not to mention the monetary costs of the water itself). However, under watering is generally more of a problem. If you do not provide enough moisture for the lawn to grow it will wilt and die. Areas of thin or dead lawn promote weed growth erosion and it is unsightly. Because of wide range turf environment, unpredictable weather, and soil conditions there is no specific watering schedule that works across the board.

Never let the lawn wilt and die. Learn the different areas of your lawn and their watering needs.

Example 1: If you have very sandy soil and the lawn is completely exposed to direct sunlight all day. After maybe a day or two without rain you would probably have to water once and twice a day until the next rainy period.

Example 2: If you are in a clay type soil, or in a shady type area you may not have to water as frequently. It is recommended that early summer watering is to be deep to promote deep root development; at least one inch of water is needed in all areas of the lawn. During drought conditions a more frequent and lighter watering is required.

One should never water to the point of run off.


Thatch is the layer of living and dead stems, roots, stolons, and rhizomes between the green blades of grass and the soil surface. A thin layer of thatch (less than 1/2 inch thick) can be beneficial to the lawn because it helps to limit weed germination, reduce water evaporation, and protect from frost damage. However, thick thatch layers can prevent water, air, and nutrients from penetrating the soil, causing reduced root growth and increased potential for drought stress. Thatch also favors fungal growth and can harbor insect pests.

Tips for preventing thatch build up

To remove thatch from lawn, use a vertical mower to cut through the soil surface. Known as a dethatcher, this mower has a series of revolving blades that cut through the thatch and bring it to the surface.

Crabgrass and other related annual weeds like goosegrass and foxtail, germinate from seed in April, May or June. The most prevalent species of Digitaria in North America are Large Crabgrass (D. sanguinalis) and Smooth Crabgrass (D. ischaemum), which often become problem weeds in lawn and gardens. They are annual plants, and one plant is capable of producing 150,000 seeds per season. The plants invade lawns during the spring and summer and then leave large voids in the fall and winter when they die off. Crabgrass is not shade tolerant, and grows best in full, hot sun. They also have a different texture and color that often interrupts the uniformity of a lawn. Crabgrasses are controlled with pre-emergent herbicides that interfere with key enzymes that are only active when a seed germinates. These herbicides must be applied at a critical time.

Pre-emergent herbicides prevent seed germination. When applied in early to mid-April, a pre-emergent herbicide can provide extra insurance against the invasion of annual grassy weeds. Pre-emergent herbicides should not be applied to garden areas and cannot be used on newly seeded or sodded lawns.

The best way to control crabgrass and related annual grassy weeds in lawns is to maintain healthy grass with proper seeding, mowing, watering and fertilizing, and judicious use of herbicides.

Post-emergent controls do exist. Post-emergent controls are effective and can be used to treat crabgrass, nutsedge and other grassy weeds.

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