FLORIDA — When watering to establish a new lawn or replanting sections of an older lawn, we normally recommend two to three “mists” throughout the day for the first 7-10 days until roots get established.
These are just 10-minute bursts. Then, back off to once a day for about ½ hour for seven to 10 days. Then, go two to three times a week for about seven days. By then, your lawn should be established.
If we are experiencing adequate rainfall, you may not need to irrigate. Rain counts. But in the absence of sufficient rain, you’ll need to provide enough water at the correct time to allow your new sod, plugs or seed to root – hence, the above directions.
A well-designed and correctly installed irrigation system with a controller operated correctly helps to achieve uniform establishment. It can be difficult, inconvenient, and time-consuming to uniformly provide sufficient water to establish a lawn with hose-end sprinklers, especially if the lawn is sizeable and during dry weather.
Most people are not going to do the necessary job of pulling hoses around on a regular basis to result in a well-established lawn.
Too much water will result in rot, diseased roots, and diseased seedlings and failure. Too little water will result in the sod, seedlings, or plugs drying excessively and failure to establish.
The end result, at best, is a poorly established sparse lawn with weeds. Or complete failure.
It would be wise not to invest time and money if the new lawn cannot be irrigated correctly. Taking the gamble that adequate (not too much, not too little) rainfall will occur exactly when needed to result in a beautiful, healthy lawn is exactly that – a gamble.
An irrigation system is nothing more than a tool to supplement rainfall. As much as possible, learn to operate the irrigation controller using the “manual” setting.
The above schedule should help when planting a lawn from seed, sprigs, plugs, or sod.
On fertilizing a new lawn, the general recommendation is to wait at least 30-60 days after planting to apply fertilizer. This gives time for roots to establish first.
There needs to be a good root system to take up the fertilizer. Otherwise, the fertilizer quickly moves through our sandy soil. A good rule of thumb is not to fertilize until the new lawn grass has required being mowed twice.
Applying fertilizer too soon can burn (injure) the new tender roots. Also, don’t fertilize if heavy rains are likely within 24 hours. Storms or flooding will wash away fertilizer before your lawn has a chance to use it.
For additional information on establishing and maintaining a Florida lawn, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County or visit this website. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/entity/topic/lawns.
Larry Williams is the Extension horticulture agent with the Okaloosa County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida. Contact Larry at 689-5850 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.