It’s vital that newly laid turf is not allowed to dry out before it has rooted into your soil. But how long should you water new turf after it is installed? Here’s some advice from the UK’s biggest turf producer.
Watering new turf – the quick guide
Water turf daily for 2-4 weeks after it has been laid. And make sure the water filters through into the soil beneath it. In very hot weather you may need to water more often. In wet weather, rain may not be enough. Always check that the soil beneath your new lawn is damp. If the soil dries out, turves may shrink and your lawn could die.
Top tip to make watering easier
Rake in some water retaining gel crystals as you prepare your soil for turfing. This will make watering much more efficient.
Why does my new turf need daily watering?
Your new turf must never be allowed to dry out. Here’s why.
Grass is 85% water and it depends on that precious liquid for its very existence. In an established grass plant, the surface area of the roots is greater than the surface area of the leaves. But in freshly harvested turf a good 70% of the root mass is missing.
Every day, a grass plant loses water through its leaves (it’s the plants’ equivalent of us exhaling and sweating). That water is replaced by the roots who draw food and water from deep in the soil. Your turf grass wants to do that but – during the harvesting process, a large proportion of the root system was chopped off. Until new roots grow, your lawn will depend on you to make sure it has water within reach.
Depending on the time of year, newly laid turf takes 2-4 weeks to regrow enough roots to be self-sufficient.
When to water your new turf
Water as soon as you have laid your turf. For a large lawn you might want to have the sprinkler working on a laid section while you are working on the next bit.
You are encouraging roots to sink deep into the soil so the top 10cm of soil needs to be wet.
It’s vital that you water your new turf every single day. Even if it rains you must check that the soil beneath your lawn is damp enough. On very hot days you may need to water more than once a day.
Best practice says that you should water either first thing in the morning or late in the evening. The reason for this is that the air is cooler and the water is less likely to evaporate away. In other words, most of the water will go down into the soil not up into the sky. Personally I like to water in the evening, it’s a nice relaxing way to end the day and it seems as though the plants grow overnight.
How much water should I give my new turf?
The amount of water your new turf needs will vary according to the weather, your soil type and indeed the conditions in your garden. A garden that exposed to wind and/or sun will probably dry out quicker than a sheltered spot.
For the first watering after your turf has been laid, it pays to be generous with the watering. It’s OK to have puddles sitting on top of the lawn. The water will soon soak through.
For subsequent watering sessions, use your best judgement. As a rule of thumb it’s better to have too much than too little water. On the other hand continuous waterlogging will do more harm than good. Avoid having water sit on the surface for more than 10-15 minutes but do be sure the top 10cm of soil beneath your turf is good and damp within about 30 minutes of finishing the watering.
Within 3-4 days you’ll get a feel for what your lawn needs. We’re all more in tune with nature than we think!
What happens if I don’t give my new turf enough water?
To begin with, the leaves and roots will lose bulk and each turf will shrink. All your hard work at making sure the edges are butted up close together will be wasted because the turves will shrink.
You may see the leaves at the edge of each turf turning yellow and then brown. The grass in the middle of the turves will start to look patchy and unhealthy.
Eventually the turf will die. In hot weather, unwatered turves can be completely dead within 48-72 hours.
Most turf suppliers will refuse to refund your money if turf dies through lack of water – so your investment will be lost.
What to do if your new lawn starts to look dry
Water, water, water! If you start to see gaps between turves, don’t hold back! Water 2-3 times a day to re-wet the soil. If the grass does survive, you may need to fill in any gaps with enriched soil mixed with grass seed.
It’s far better to not let the lawn dry out in the first place. If you can’t do the watering, ask a neighbour to help or install an irrigation system with a timer attached.