Tips for Watering Sod & Seed

Spring is sod and seed season, but you can lay sod or plant seed anytime during the growing season. Whether you are fixing small dog patches or finishing a large project, our Field Superintendent, Greg Smedstad, has got you covered with expert watering tips. For more information, download Villa Landscape’s Watering Guide.

1) Water within a half hour after sod is laid. Apply at least 1 inch so that 3-4 inches of soil beneath the turf will be moist. Carefully pull back a corner of the turf and push a screwdriver or other sharp tool into the soil. It should push in easily and have moisture along the first 3-4 inches; if not apply more water. After the first day, it is best to water in the early morning or evening.

2) For the next two weeks, keep the below-turf soil moist with daily (or more frequent) watering of about 1/4 inch each time. Water in early morning to take advantage of the grass’s normal growing cycle, lower wind speeds, and less water loss by evaporation. Hot, dry or windy conditions require increased watering. As the turf roots, it may be difficult (and damaging) to pull back a corner to check moisture, but you can still use a tool to check by pushing it through the turf and into the soil.

3) Move your sprinkler so that corners, edges and areas near structures that are easily missed get water. These areas are vulnerable to drying out faster.

4) Runoff may occur on some soils and sloped areas before the soil is adequately moist. To conserve water and ensure adequate absorption, turn off the water when runoff begins and wait 30 minutes to an hour before continuing. Repeat as needed.

Warning signs that sod needs immediate watering:

  • Sod length and width appear to shrink
  • Leaves/blades curl with a needle-like appearance
  • Dry spots discolor into a purple or gray color


1) Germination occurs within 7-30 days depending on temperature, moisture, seed variety and depth buried. If conditions change during the germination phase, seeds are vulnerable. The main objective is to maintain adequate moisture; seed will die if it dries out. Water at least twice per day, and possibly more depending on temperature and wind conditions. When watering a newly seeded lawn, aim for 10-15 minutes 2-3 times per day.

2) As grass becomes visible, the root structure is starting to establish and the seed is not as vulnerable. Continue to water lightly twice per day because not all the seed sprouts at the same time. Do not saturate as the seed is still vulnerable to overwatering as it is to drying out. Keep the top 1 inch moist at all times in the early stages; this may take 10-15 minutes depending on conditions. Repeat this step 2-3 times per day until grass turns deep green.

3) When the grass reaches a couple inches tall and turns a darker green, water once every few days.

4) Once grass reaches mowing height of 3-4 inches, root growth is established and you may begin to water deeper and longer to promote a deep root growth.

NOTE: Villa Landscapes recommends a blended seed topped with a shredded hay to maintain moisture.

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