How Long to Water New Grass Seed – Horticulturist Discloses

You’ve taken every step: cleared the old earth, tested your soil, selected and planted your seeds with the right fertilizer, and now you’re ready to water. But how much water do you need? And how do you reach the middle if you can’t walk on the seed?

It can be difficult to know how much to water your new grass seed. Watering too much will make it rot, knowing how much to water your new grass seed can be challenging. Watering too much will make it rot, and too little will prevent it from sprouting or sprout it and let it die. Fortunately, we’ve compiled all the resources you need to know how much and when to water your new lawn.

So how long do you need to water new grass seed? For new grass seed, it’s essential to keep the moisture content in the soil consistently within the range that the grass seed needs. This usually involves watering for 5 to ten minutes, two to three times a day.

According to Victor Gibeault, an environmental horticulturist at the University of California in Riverside, it’s essential to initially water often enough that the soil remains damp but not soaked. Once the seedlings sprout, it’s enough to water every other day.

This schedule will depend on evaporation and how much output your watering hose or sprinklers is putting out, but it’s a helpful guideline to start with. Before planting your grass seed, make sure the soil is well hydrated, but water-logged soil will suffocate new seeds.

Here is a video that shows you how long it takes to water new grass and how much water is needed.

Can You Over-Water New Grass Seed?

Yes, it is possible to over-water new grass seed. Watering grass too often can and will cause more harm than good. Over-watering is a risk to young seedlings as they can get washed away or suffocate and die.

It’s essential to keep the vulnerable new grass seeds and seedlings perfectly hydrated in the early stages of growing a lawn without causing them damage from over-watering. There are three significant ways that over-watering can damage a young growth lawn.

1. Washing away seeds

Using too much water or too much water pressure on your watering system can physically move, submerge, or wash away the tiny grass seeds or new sprouts. This can lead to uneven filling of the lawn where seeds have been bunched up together, or in the worst case, dead patches.

2. Suffocating seeds and seedlings

Of course, all plants need water, but a submerged root system is prone to suffocation when the delicate tissues in the roots can’t get enough air. This can lead to rotting, infection, and death of the root system and seedling. Further, using water at high pressure or sprinklers with too large droplets may bury seeds under compacted soil and suffocate them.

3. Damaging new sprouts

High-pressure hoses or sprinklers with water droplets that are too large can also physically damage new grass seedlings. Again, making sure the water is misted rather than hosed at this stage is vital to protect the seedlings from physical damage.

Grass seed needs between 3 and 4 inches of water per week, usually at a semi-constant rate. Too much at once will damage or suffocate the seeds, and too long between watering will dry them out. This is a process that will become intuitive over time.

Once you’ve got the proper schedule and a feel for how much and how hard to water your grass seed, it’s still going to be a matter of time before you can walk on it without damaging it.

How Long Should You Stay Off of New Grass Seed?

You should stay off new grass seed for three to four weeks after planting. This should be enough time for a lawn to reach the stage where it needs to be mown. This is the best time to start walking on the new lawn because it guarantees that the grass is mature enough to withstand some abuse.

New grass sprouts are very soft and vulnerable. There’s a reason herbivores prefer the new shoots! For this reason, it’s important not to disturb the seedlings until they’re fully established and robust enough to be stepped on.

After three weeks, the grass should be ready to be stepped on and even mown, but again, this depends on optimal conditions in your planting and germinating strategy. So, what happens if you walk on the lawn too early?

At the initial stages of germination, seedlings under the topsoil are exceptionally fragile. They are sending out small and delicate root systems into the soil and developing their rhizomes and subsurface microbial communities to sustain them when they mature.

At this stage, walking is likely to dislodge or damage seedlings and disrupt these formations before they have had a chance to become established. In many cases, this will kill the grass, and at the very least, it will slow down the spread of the lawn.

How Long Does It Take New Grass Seed to Sprout?

Grass seed will sprout between 5 and 30 days, depending on the type and the local climate. Unseasonably cold temperatures or too much rain will slow down this process, as will soil outside the optimal pH of 6 to 7.2.

The factors that affect the time it takes new grass to grow are the type of seed, the weather, and the soil condition.

The University of California has a handy guide to sprouting rates of different grass types, which provides the following information:

  • Annual Ryegrass – 5-10 days
  • Bermudagrass – 10-30 days
  • Buffalograss – 14-30 days
  • Colonial Bentgrass – 10-14 days
  • Creeping Bentgrass – 10-14 days
  • Hard Fescue – 7-14 days
  • Kentucky Bluegrass – 14-30 days
  • Perennial Ryegrass – 5-10 days
  • Red Fescue – 7-14 days
  • Rough Bluegrass – 7-10 days
  • Tall Fescue – 7-12 days

Using this information, you can get a reasonable estimate of how long it will take your seeds to sprout. Still, it’s a good idea to look up the specific requirements for your type of grass and see if there’s anything you need to do to give it the best possible chance of sprouting well.

How Long to Water New Grass Seed with a Sprinkler?

Watering new grass seeds with a sprinkler should initially be done for just a couple of minutes, a few times a day, but the sprinkler must be set to misting so that the water droplets don’t damage the delicate seedlings.

The significant error in watering new seed with a sprinkler is likely to be using a droplet size that is too abrasive. Sprinklers make watering lawns a breeze, but with young sprouts or new seeds, there are some pitfalls that you can fall into. First of all, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sprinklers; each system will have different water droplet size, pressure, and range properties.

Setting up a dedicated misting hose or sprinkler to go off several times a day for just a couple of minutes is a safe and effective way to water new seeds without causing damage or running the risk of drowning them. This method will keep the moisture just right for germination and should improve the rate of growth of your new lawn.

You can calculate the amount of water your sprinkler releases by sitting an empty can or container next to it. As a general rule, new lawns want about 3-4 inches of water per week, so filling up a can with an inch of water will allow you to establish the length of time to leave it on, based on watering multiple times per day.

For example, if it takes 30 minutes to fill up one inch of water with a misting hose, you’ll want to water for a maximum of 2h per week. At 5x per day, you’ll want to water for 3-4 minutes at a time. If it takes an hour, double either the misting time or the number of misting sessions.

How much strictly depends on the water pressure and the type of sprinkler, but with this simple calculation and a timer setting on your mister, you can easily automate the process and take the thought out of it. A good sprinkler to work with is the Signature Garden Three Arm Sprinkler. You can click here to check out the sprinkler.

What Happens if you Miss a Day of Watering New Grass Seed?

If you miss a whole day of watering new grass seed, the damage done will depend on the weather. If the soil was well hydrated and the weather was cool and cloudy, you may get away with it. If it has been sunny, it’s likely the new seedlings will dry out and die.

Grass seed needs to be kept moist almost the entire time you’re waiting for it to germinate. Because of this, it’s essential to water little and often.

Maintaining the same watering schedule is very important for maximizing the health of your new grass seedbed. Here are some of the main factors to keep in mind when planning your sprinkler schedule:

  • The age of the new grass plays a role here. Seeds that have just germinated will be more vulnerable than larger seedlings or seeds that have only been laid for a day and haven’t germinated yet.
  • Some people have noticed fungal infections occur when a day of watering is missed – others get away with it. It’s down to the local weather conditions, the type of grass, and a good amount of luck, so it’s safer to avoid missing days at all costs.
  • A fully mature lawn can go well over a week without water. Still, in the early stages, when the seeds and new sprouts are particularly vulnerable, it’s crucial to the optimal health of the new lawn that it gets watered on schedule, at least for the first few weeks.

How to Water New Grass Seed Without Stepping on It?

Watering new grass seed without stepping on it is best done using a timed misting system of sprinklers, and this should be laid down before laying the grass seed down. A light mist setting should be used and the timer set to multiple, short sessions of misting per day.

With a large lawn, it can be difficult to water fresh seed without walking on it unless there is a high-pressure nozzle on the hose or you’re using a good-quality sprinkler system. The latter is most recommended simply for the range of adequate watering and convenience, but it’s necessary to have a setting that won’t harm the grass seeds.

It’s recommended that you avoid buying a cheap sprinkler system and invest in good-quality hardware to maximize your chances of sprouting the new seed without causing damage. A sprinkler system I recommend is the MIXC sprinkler system. You can check it out here

Watering by hand is possible with smaller lawns, but the danger then becomes using a stream that is too powerful. This will damage the new seed and possibly suffocate it with too much water or by covering it with topsoil dislodged by the pressure of the water.

On larger lawns, it’s more or less impossible to water by hand without either damaging the lawn by walking on it or using water under such high pressure that it harms the seeds.

For this reason, having a misting hose or sprinkler system set up before you get planting is one of the critical things to remember in preparation for maximizing your germination rate and seedling survival.

If you don’t have an extensive sprinkler system, a single sprinkler hub can be attached to a line that can be pulled across the lawn with minimal damage to the grass seed, allowing full coverage of the area without the need to walk across it. This method requires a bit of ingenuity, but it works well and doesn’t cost as much as buying an entire sprinkler system.


Grass seed takes between 5 and 30 days to germinate and about 3 or 4 weeks to become established. At this time, it’s important to water regularly and often, but with a fine mist, and to avoid overwatering.

Watering can be done by hand, but sprinklers’ timed misting system is ideal and will take the hassle out of the process.

Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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