New turf needs a lot of water to ensure the grass roots grow well and can flourish. You need to water it more frequently than an established lawn because the new roots will be too small to absorb water easily. But it is essential to be careful when watering.
It is possible to water new turf too much. This can cause the grass to wilt and die due to root rot. Overwatering can also cause turf diseases because of water stagnation. Incorrect watering prevents the water from being absorbed into the soil, and the water is wasted through evaporation or runoff.
This article explores the signs to look out for so you know if your turf is overwatered and the steps to fix your new turf if you’ve accidentally watered it too much. Read on for more information about watering your new turf the right way!
Signs That You’ve Overwatered Your New Turf
Overwatering and underwatering usually have the same effects on plants because both symptoms are similar. This is because overwatering and underwatering both suffocate the roots, preventing the plant from taking up water and nutrients.
Nevertheless, there are some ways of determining if you’ve added too much water to new turf.
Let’s take a look:
Wilting grass is a common symptom of grass that is overwatered or underwatered. If your turf looks like its growth is slowing down and is limp instead of springy, it’s likely overwatered. Your grass may also be wilting because it’s underwatered or lacks sufficient nutrients.
Wilting is among the first signs that something is wrong with your turf, and you’ll need to test further and look for additional symptoms to determine the actual cause.
A good way to check if you’ve watered turf too much is to test the leaves and see if they feel dry or squishy. Dry leaves indicate underwatering, while squishy leaves indicate overwatering.
Browning Tips or Patches of Turf
After your grass wilts, it may turn a lighter green and then yellow or develop brown tips as the roots suffocate. Entire patches of turf may also brown, as new turf will have underdeveloped roots that are sensitive to the watering schedule.
The patchiness is a sure sign that something is wrong with your watering schedule for your new turf. Patches of brown indicate that your lawn is likely not receiving the same amount of water everywhere, and the patchy areas are either under or overwatered.
Soggy, Dripping Soil
Testing the soil is a surefire way to tell if your new turf is overwatered. Ideally, the soil and the ground underneath your new sod should be wet down to a depth of about one inch (2.5 cm) in the first week or so. This supports the root growth of your turf.
The soil should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge, but at no point should it be soggy or dripping with water. If your soil is soggy, then you’re overwatering your turf.
Failure To Root
When you lay down new turf either by sodding or seeding, the roots take time to grow. If you water new turf too much, the water will carry away the seeds or prevent the sod from rooting.
New sod takes about a week to 10 days to root. At this time, the soil needs to be kept moist because the rootless grass can only take up a little water at a time but needs a lot of water.
However, soaking the soil until it’s dripping will only suffocate the plant, preventing growth, including root growth.
Disease and Infection
Disease and fungal infections spread easily in new turf since the grass is young and fragile until its roots grow deep and strong. Bacterial growth and fungal infections are encouraged when water stagnates, which is why you’ll often see these diseases in overwatered turf.
Overwatering isn’t just caused by adding too much water. If you water your turf at the wrong time, such as evening or night, the excess water will not evaporate, leading to stagnation. This stagnation leads to symptoms of overwatering even if you’re using the right amount of water.
You can learn more about watering turf at the right time in the article, which examines if you can water new sod in the evening: Can You Water New Sod in the Evening?
Water runoff clearly indicates that you’re adding too much water to new turf. If you see water seeping out of your lawn, pooling or forming puddles in your new turf, or draining away, that’s water runoff.
Ideally, you should water your new turf slowly so the water can have time to soak into the ground.
Water in small, gentle bursts twice or three times a day in the first week, giving the water time to seep through the top layers of soil. This type of watering is known as the cycle-soak method.
You can watch this YouTube video by Dr. Richard White on the Texas Agricultural News channel to learn more about the cycle-soak method of watering:
Despite this, if the water is running off, reduce the frequency of application, and only water your new turf when the soil becomes drier than a wrung-out sponge.
Will Overwatered Grass Recover?
Most issues with new turf can be fixed, including drought stress. But what about overwatering?
Overwatered grass will recover if the issue is caught early. If you notice wilting alongside runoff and soggy soil, you can wait for the ground to dry before applying water again. When you water your grass again, use the cycle-soak method to encourage deep roots.
Timing is crucial when it comes to overwatered grass. If your new turf has started yellowing or browning, then those blades of grass are dead, but the turf itself is simply dormant.
Your grass will need to grow out again. At this stage, your grass can recover if the roots are still strong. If the new sod simply doesn’t root, or the new roots rot, then the turf is entirely dead, and you’ll have to lay in the new sod again.
Fix Your Overwatered Turf in 6 Easy Steps
It is much easier to prevent overwatering than to fix the effects.
Nevertheless, if you’ve caught your overwatering early, then you can fix your new turf with a few simple steps:
- Stop watering until the ground dries out to the dampness of a wrung-out sponge.
- Check for drainage issues in the ground and fix them by adding tile drainage or organic matter. For instance, you can layer compost thinly on top of the new turf.
- When you start watering again, use the cycle-soak method, and always wait for the soil to dry before you add more water.
- Check to ensure your turf is being evenly watered and there aren’t any patches being watered twice over.
- Don’t add more than a quarter-inch (0.635 cm) of water a week for the first week, and slowly work up to 1-1.5 inches (2.5-3.8 cm) of water in a week in the span of a month.
- Water your new turf in the early morning when the dew is on the ground. The ideal timing would be between 4:00 AM to 8:00 AM or 5:00 AM to 9:00 AM, depending on the weather.
These steps should help you fix your grass if you’ve accidentally watered your new turf too much. As your grass grows, water your turf deeply but less frequently, as this will encourage the roots to grow deep and improve your turf’s overall resistance.
It is possible to water new turf too much, and symptoms of overwatering include wilting, yellowing, and browning of leaves, soggy soil, and water runoff. Overwatered grass can recover if it’s caught early enough.
To help address issues of overwatering, you must stop watering till the soil dries up, address any drainage issues in the ground, and water your turf correctly as it grows. Preventing overwatering is easier than fixing it, so establish and maintain a watering schedule best suited to your grass and weather.