New root growth
Watering your freshly laid turf is essential to ensuring your lawn takes root and grows quickly. When turf is harvested most of its roots are left behind in the field, the rest of the roots are there in the roll, but they are no use for absorbing water. New roots are sent out from the base of the plants and quickly penetrate the soil. The time this takes depends on the time of year, about ten to fourteen days in spring/summer and up to four weeks in the autumn. A newly-laid lawn needs moisture immediately to encourage new root growth and to prevent dehydration.
Watering-in your new turf
It is important to water-in your new turf as soon as possible, especially on a hot day. Fresh turf will dry out quickly on a sunny or windy day. The only time we recommend watering turf in direct sunshine is at this initial watering in, because the turf is now in recovery after being kept in a roll and it needs moisture as quickly as possible. Turf should then be watered in the shade or when the sun is low to prevent possible scorching of the leaves. If the turf is laid with no gaps and if insufficient water is being applied, they will start to shrink as the grass uses the water held in the roll very quickly – this is an indication that it needs watering straight away. If rain is forecast, turf should still be watered in; it may only be a small shower or it may not rain at all. Then if it does rain, it will be a bonus.
Keep your turf well watered
Expect to water your new turf twice a day in the first week. Your turf must not dry out, but do not water to the point that the soil becomes saturated; over-watering can be a problem, especially on heavier soils. As your turf establishes, roots are sent into the soil at the rate of 12.5mm a week. A mature turf on most UK soils will have roots between 150-250mm deep. Until the roots get beyond the first 25mm of topsoil, the sun and wind can play a big role in drying out the soil as well as the turf absorbing moisture.
As you water, it will percolate down into the soil, eventually draining beyond the roots. You need to remember that other roots such as tree roots will also be taking in water, so an area of tree shade may need to be watered just as much as one in full sunshine.
Don’t over water your new turf
The amount of water to be applied ultimately depends on location, shade, sun and type of soil, but you should not let turf sit in water as this will lead to root rot. If the preparation has been done correctly the water should drain away from the root zone reasonably quickly leaving the soil moist.
Water can be applied with a garden sprinkler by manual operation or with a timer. If the area is large, it is worth considering an irrigation system as this could be installed prior to laying the turf. The duration of the watering should be between 20-30 minutes. During winter months it is not necessary to water your turf, unless we have a warm dry winter.
Watering an established lawn
After a year of establishment, your new lawn will be well-rooted and watering can be limited to times of drought.