Watering your lawn, trees, and shrubs is crucial during periods of dry weather. Homeowners wanting a vibrant, green backyard need to water regularly and be ready to bring out the garden hose when the rainfall dries up. Underwatering will leave the backyard looking brown and put the long term health of your plants at risk. Proper backyard watering is key to a great looking home.
Some areas restrict the hours or days that homeowners can water, so be sure to check with your local municipality before implementing a regular watering schedule. Be mindful of any watering restrictions in place, but be aware that these restrictions often do not apply to new plantings. New plantings often require extensive watering, and homeowners must be mindful to provide that or the plants health will be at risk.
Protecting your investment in plants requires giving them the water they need to grow. Not providing enough water will leave plants unhealthy and susceptible to disease. However, plants can also be impacted by overwatering so homeowners want to be sure that they are mindful during the process. Watering instructions for your backyard will depend on the weather rainfall and the type of plants you have. Use this guide below to find the best way to water new sod, new seed, ground covers, shrubs, and trees.
Watering Instructions for New Sod and Lawn
A healthy lawn requires a substantial amount of water. If using a rain gage then 2” of water twice a week is ideal and anything under that can be supplemented with watering. Installing new sod or lawn is a bit more water intensive.
Water New Sod
Sod or turf is composed of the grass and a layer of the soil underneath it containing the root system. Sod is effective at quickly establishing a lawn in areas like a hillside where seed might be at risk of washing or blowing away. Homeowners appreciate how sod can instantly transform an unsightly part of their backyard into an appealing landscape.
Sod needs to be watered aggressively when it is first installed. Sod that is not heavily watered can start to brown and it will shrink at the seams exposing the dirt below. Homeowners should prepare to water the sod daily during the initial period of four weeks. A hose timer or smart, wifi water timer can be helpful during this process.
Most important is the initial week after installing the sod, and homeowners should water enough to keep the sod moist during these 7 days. On day 8 after installation the sod should be allowed to dry in anticipation of its first cutting on day 9. After this lawn mowing, keep the sod moist for another 7 days with near daily watering depending on weather. On day 17 let the lawn dry in anticipation of a second cutting and then cut on day 18. Repeat this cycle completely a third time. After that fourth week the sod is established and the lawn can be maintained with normal care.
- Day 1 – Day 7: Keep sod moist
- Day 8: Dry sod for first cutting
- Day 9: Cut sod
- Day 10 – Day 16: Keep sod moist
- Day 17: Dry sod for second cutting
- Day 18: Cut sod
- Day 19 – Day 26: Keep sod moist
- Day 27: Dry sod for third cutting
- Day 28: Cut sod
- Day 29: Treat sod regularly
Can you water new sod too much?
Yes, you want to water your sod regularly and heavily but it is important not to drown your sod. With too much water the roots of your sod can rot and fail to establish a strong system. Soggy sod can also be damaged more easily by people walking or traversing over it.
Water Seeded Lawn
For seeded lawns it is important to provide enough water to keep the soil evenly moist. Homeowners should water the seed up until when slight puddles start to occur. Under-watering will prevent the seeds from sprouting. Large puddles of water forming on the ground indicate overwatering, which will prevent growth and risk washing seed away. Seeds should start to sprout within the first week.
Once seeds are established the frequency of watering will depend heavily on external factors like the temperature and weather conditions. The best thing for homeowners to do is to pay attention to the grass and water heavily if it starts to brown or if cracks appear in the ground.
Watering Perennials, Annuals, and Containers
These plants tend to have shallow roots, so it is important to water them frequently enough that the soil stays moist. The weather will heavily influence the amount of watering homeowners need to do. When the weather is warm, the soil can dry out quickly and you will need to water frequently. If temperatures are cooler and your plants are not in direct sunlight the watering can become less frequent. Containers positioned in the full sun may need to be watered daily.
Watering Ground Cover
The appeal of ground covers is that they require low to no maintenance once they are established. Newly planted ground cover, however, needs to be well watered so that the ground is moist and thoroughly soaked to a depth of 6”- 8”. To check the moisture level of the soil use your fingers to probe down and check for moisture. If it is not moist then let the hose run slowly at the base for about half an hour so that the water can soak in.
Watering Trees and Shrubs
For a newly planted tree or shrub the watering needs to ensure that the roots are moist. At the time of planting the trees should be watered heavily and depending on the size of the root ball this might require a root feeder or several hours of a garden hose running at medium pressure. Homeowners should continue watering on a regular basis anytime that the soil about 2” deep is not moist to the touch. Use your fingers to probe the soil adjacent to the root ball about two inches deep and if it is moist to the touch then no water is necessary.
When watering is necessary, the garden hose should be placed at the base of the tree and run on medium pressure for about an hour. If your hose is on high pressure the water is apt to run off instead of soak in, so work to run the hose longer instead of stronger. Avoid over watering trees so that the roots do not get oversaturated with water and risk rot. Tree bags are also helpful ways to deliver water regularly.
Can a tree be overwatered?
It is necessary to provide a young tree with adequate water down to the bottom of the root ball, but overwatering is also a common problem that can develop and damage trees. When trees get waterlogged their roots cannot breathe and rot can set in. Well drained soil is vital. Look for signs of over watered trees like soft, limp leaves.
Conclusion: Backyard Watering
Homeowners that want a lush, green backyard need to water regularly. Depending on what you are watering, be sure to probe the soil with your fingers and see how deep down the moisture is. Sod, lawn seed, and shrubs have shallow roots that only require moisture up near the surface. Trees and shrubs have larger root balls that require the moisture to seep farther down to keep them healthy. Always be sure to watch your backyard for cracks in the soil or browning that indicates watering is necessary or for puddles on the ground that could indicate over watering. Different plants require different amounts of water and being mindful of what your backyard watering needs are is crucial to getting the green, healthy backyard homeowners desire.