Green Team Blog

The Ultimate Landscape Watering Guide

How often should I water my grass? How long do I water it for? If I have newly seeded grass how long should I water it? How long do I water my new tree?

While this list above is likely not all the questions you have about watering your landscape, we know watering times and frequency can be one of the most confusing aspects of caring for your outdoor space. And it makes sense because the rules change depending on the weather and the item you are watering.

Let’s break down the best way to water your entire landscape so you can quit spending hours searching on Google.

Watering Grass

Watering grass is essential, even in a cooler climate like Northern Michigan, for your grass to thrive. The best time of day to water is early morning before the sun rises. Temperatures are cooler, so immediate evaporation doesn’t occur. As the sun rises and shines on your grass throughout the day, it evaporates excess water, which helps prevent diseases that can take hold if you water during the nighttime hours.

sprinkler head waters grass

How do I water existing grass?

Many people ask how often to water or how long to water, but the focus should be on how much water does my grass need to thrive? Established grass typically needs about 1 ½” of water per week. This includes water from rain and from your sprinkler system. For most people, this looks like watering each zone for 20 minutes one to two times a week.

If you do not have a smart irrigation system, you may need to measure how much water is actually being sprayed on your lawn during each watering session. Use a rain gauge to collect water during the time your sprinkler system is running to see how much water your grass is actually getting. The amount of water collected will give you an idea of how much time you should be watering. For example, if you have your sprinkler system run for 10 minutes and ½” of water is collected, in general, you should have each zone set at around 25 minutes.

If the weather is extremely warm and sunny, your grass will need more water. Adding an additional day of watering during hot weeks can help your grass beat the heat.

How do I water newly seeded grass?

The main reason that newly seeded grass fails to take hold is lack of water. Until seeds have germinated and grown to about ½”, you should be watering your newly seeded lawn daily for about 15-30 minutes. The goal is for the area to be consistently damp. It is important for the watering to be gentle, so that the seeds are not washed away.

After grass has grown beyond ½”, waterings can be cut down to twice per week. After your new turf reaches a length long enough to be mowed, you can resume normal watering habits.

While the water routine for newly seed grass is certainly more extensive, be sure not to overdo your watering.

How do I water new sod?

New sod also needs more watering than established grass. The sod needs enough water to encourage roots to grow and take hold in the soil where it was planted. Failing to efficiently water sod will always result in sod death.

Sod should be watered daily, with a total of about 2-4” of water given a week for the first few weeks. After the two weeks, begin stretching out watering times to encourage the grass roots to grow down into the moist soil. Once the sod is firmly rooted, you can resume normal watering habits.

Watering Plants

While the signs of grass in need of water often look like browning areas or a crispy feel, plantings tend to wilt. Drooping leaves or branches are signs that your planting is in desperate need of a drink. Watering your plants at the same time you water your grass will yield the best results.

Plants CAN be overwatered. Be sure to monitor new plantings surrounding soil to see if it is too damp, as too much water can drown trees, shrubs, and flowers.

How much water do my new trees and shrubs need?

Trees and shrubs that are newly planted need to receive water daily at the base of the planting. If water only hits the leaves, it will likely not be enough water getting to the roots of the plant and can cause fungal issues.

New trees need about 45-60 minutes of watering per day from a hose at low pressure. Using a soaker hose wrapped loosely around the base of the tree or putting an old towel around the end of your hose can help water not flood your tree. Change the position of the hose daily so water is reaching all parts of the root system. After about 3-4 weeks, refer to established tree watering guidelines.

New bushes need to be watered daily for about 10-15 minutes. Just like trees, after about 3-4 weeks, you can begin watering at the established shrub guideline.

How much water do my established trees and shrubs need?

Typically, well-established trees and shrubs do not need focused watering. Be sure that your irrigation system reaches plantings if the area does not have an underground drip irrigation system already. Between rainfall and regular irrigation, additional watering should not be needed. However, excessive heat can cause trees and shrubs to show signs of stress. Consider adding additional watering times to your drip irrigation system whenever you increase watering times for your turf. To learn more about the signs of drought, check out our parent company’s 6 page watering guide.

How do I water ground covers, perennials, and annuals?

Ground covers and perennial plantings, once established, usually take care of themselves. Just like trees and shrubs, they should be considered in the irrigation plan for your property. Either drip irrigation should be set up for the landscape bed or the plantings should be hit with watering from your turf irrigation. When extreme heat hits, be sure to give your ground covers and perennials additional water to help them survive. If there has been little to no rain for an extended period of time, water ground covers or perennials with a soaker wand on the end of a hose for 30-60 seconds a few times a week.

Annual plantings, especially those in containers, should be watered daily. Container plantings lose water more quickly than those located in the ground, so feel the soil each day to determine if your annuals need some water. We recommend watering annuals until the surrounding soil starts to puddle.

garden hose with sprayer waters red flowers

Partnering with an Expert to Help Your Landscape Thrive

A whole lot goes into planning, installing, and maintaining a beautiful landscape in Northern Michigan. A qualified landscape contractor can help guide you during the design and installation process so that you make wise choices that will set your landscape up for success. Planning for watering is one of the most important maintenance aspects your landscape requires, and a good designer and contractor will provide solutions so that your entire landscape gets the water it needs.

While we at Green Team do not offer irrigation services, our partner company does offer full-service landscape maintenance packages. We are happy to offer consultations on what may be leaving your lawn looking lackluster, and simply advising you on how to set up your watering schedule could make a big difference! Contact us today

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