Best Time to Water Grass Seed

What is the Best Time to Water Grass Seed?

Watering grass can seem like a simple process, but in reality it is something you need to pay close attention to. The difference between a perfect lawn grown from seed and a dry, sparse lawn has to do with a few factors. Those factors can include the time of year you plant, how often you water, whether or not you mulch, and making sure you follow the best time to water grass seed (which is in the morning).

In this article I’ll explain everything you need to know to get the best results from your newly seeded lawn. With a bit of guidance and attention paid, you will have a beautiful lawn in no time.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Certified Horticulturist Nicole Forsyth, M.S.

When to Plant Your Grass Seed

The most important part of starting your grass seed experience is deciding when to start growing your lawn from seed.

This is entirely dependent on what type of grass you plan to grow, and your climate so lets get into it.

There are two general types of grasses. There are:

  • Cool season grasses which grow best in temperate and northern climates, and
  • Warm season grasses which grow best in the south.

Cool-season grass varieties can be grown in the south and warm-season grasses can be grown in the north, but generally each type of lawn grass grows better in the region they are native to.

When to Water Grass Seed

More About Cool Season Grass Varieties

Cool season grasses include popular varieties of:

These are grown at their best between 55-75 degrees which means that early in the fall season is the best time to grow them from seed. This can mean the few weeks around labor day, as it usually is not too cold by this time (you need warm turf for seed germination), but still not extremely hot.

Spring time is also a good time to plant cool season grasses due to the mild temperature and high rate of rainfall.

The drawback to planting new grass in the spring, however, is that your seedlings will have to compete with weeds. I recommend a good starter fertilizer with a weed inhibitor in this article all about fertilizing new lawns.

Fall is your best option if possible.

More About Warm Season Grass Varieties

Warm season grasses include popular varieties like:

As their names suggest, these types of grass seed perform better in temperatures from 75-90 degrees.

The best time to plant warm season grass is either late spring or early summer in their native climates.

It is important these grasses are not planted at the very hottest part of the year, but still while it is quite warm, as they thrive during the warmer season and that will help your lawn become established in the first season of growth.

How Often Should You Water Your Grass Seed?

Watering your grass from seed is not just about what time of day to do so every day on a regular pattern, but also about the preparations you put into the soil before planting. states that “Several days before planting your new seed, water the area to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.” This is important so that once you plant the seeds will be saturated with water and will germinate properly.

Personally, I don’t haven’t found this to be necessary for good results, but I’m sure it works.

Directly after planting, make sure to water the grass for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure the top inches of soil are moist, and maintain this moisture while the grass is seeding.

Be sure not to add so much water that your new seed washes away.

Monitoring how much you’ll need to water your seeds depends greatly on how much it rains where you live, and what you use for mulch to hold the seed in place and retain moisture.

If you do not have any rainfall at all, you will want to water your lawn two times per day to maintain that top few inches of moisture. If you are receiving rainfall keep an eye on how much and how often. It should not be more than 1-2 full inches deep of water per week before seeds sprout.

Make an educated guess and use your hands to check your seeded area for proper moisture, then supplement as needed.

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What Time of Day is the Best Time to Water Grass Seed & Seedlings?

The time of day in which you water daffodils is not usually important, but the time of day that you water grass seed is critical.

When and How to Water New Grass Seed & Seedlings

You do not want the water to evaporate, so the best time to water grass seed is in the morning when the sun is out but the wind hasn’t picked up yet.

Watering in the morning will cut down on evaporation and water waste, allowing the turf to absorb the water and nourish the seeds.

If you can’t water your seedlings in the morning because of your schedule, late afternoon (but not at night), is the second best option.

Should You Use a Timer For Your Sprinklers?

Many people choose to have a sprinkler system on a timer to avoid taking time out of their busy lives. If you do, I recommend getting a timer with more than one outlet, so you can still have a hose to water your garden or lawn manually.

If you have a large area to cover then consider a large oscillating sprinkler as well or multiple units placed around the area for improved coverage.

For a small area you can use a spot sprinkler. This is also important so the entire grass area receives the same amount of water and grows in evenly.

It will be about 3-28 days for new grass to germinate and become seedlings depending upon your weather and the variety of grass seed you’ve put down.

Once your lawn has sprouted and you can wholeheartedly consider your baby seeds grown up seedlings, you should have a new watering plan.

How to Water Grass Seedlings Effectively

Always make sure that you are not watering grass seed at night, and to water the grass between 6-10am.

Once the grass is a few inches tall you can stop watering as consistently, and depending on how hot it is, water can be given every 2 or 3 days. The soil should not be extremely dry, but disease can be a problem when the soil is too damp as well.

Additionally, if you water too often, your seedlings will not develop deep roots. By watering more deeply, less frequently, you will encourage your seedlings to develop nice deep roots to seek out that water. This will set your new lawn up to handle the hot summer months.

Finally, once the grass is maximum 3.5 inches, the grass can be watered as deep as 4 inches, but even less often.

Mulching New Grass Seed

Mulching is the act of covering your seeds using straw, compost, or even a plastic sheeting. It’s the next step after you lay down your grass seed. This is to be spread on the ground around and over the seeds to keep them moist and prevent the seed from washing away or being eaten by birds.

This will also make the soil strong, and help to discourage weed growth.

While many people use straw, I prefer a good screened compost.

Mulching Grass Seed with Compost to Retain Moisture
I use a thin layer of compost on my grass seed to retain moisture and provide nutrients.

If you choose to use a weed-free straw instead, don’t layer it, and ensure that it is not too heavy.

With compost, aim for no more than 1/4″ – 1/2″, and with straw, aim for 50% coverage of the area with the mulch.

Encouraging deep root growth

Deep root growth is critical when building a thick, strong lawn that is free from weeds.

After the grass is up to 3.5 inches, you will be able to start trimming the grass. Bag your clippings, and when you do water at this point you will want to water much less, maybe 2 times per week, but very deeply, up to 4.5 inches deep (not 4.5 inches of water, but enough water to wet the soil to a depth of 4.5 – 5 inches).

Water New Grass Seedlings Deeply to Encourage Root Growth

Less often and deeper watering encourages the roots to truly dig deep and grow to seek out that moisture on the days you do not water your lawn.

Without deep roots you open up your lawn to destruction from weeds such as crabgrass, and vulnerability to pests.

Growing a strong lawn from seed is not incredibly difficult, but does require a lot of care and specific steps.

As long as you plan your watering schedule around the type of grass you are growing, the season you choose to plant your grass seed in, and the general climate you live in, you will do a great job.

Every lawn is different, so pay attention to how saturated your soil is, how much rainfall occurs, and how hot it is outside.

With these simple steps you will have a completely beautiful and lush lawn that is fully grown within a year.

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Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

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