Loving your new home but not sure about the lawn? Maybe you’ve lived in your home a while and your lawn seems to have lost the lush, dark green beauty it once had. Whatever the instance is, taking care of your lawn and watering it appropriately is an important part of homeownership. 

The look of your lawn not only affects your own home’s appearance and curb appeal, but also affects the streetscape and overall look of the community you live in. Keeping your lawn properly watered, cared for and landscaped can help increase the value of your home as well as cut down on future maintenance costs. 

We’re here to help take some of the guess work out of caring for your lawn by providing you with helpful lawn watering tips and information, as watering is one of the most important factors affecting overall lawn health. If you have a new lawn (less than a couple of months old), read on, but if you have an established lawn, you can skip below to the Watering Established Lawns section. 

Watering New Lawns 

All Miller Family Homes new homes come with sod-laid, Tall Fescue lawns. If you have a different kind of grass or are starting from a seed rather than sod, your watering instructions will differ from what is listed here. Starting from seed takes a drastically different watering method than starting from sod. It is important to contact a professional lawn care company if you’re not sure how to start from seed or care for your newly seeded lawn. For new homes built with Miller Family Homes, you’ll want to follow these instructions for watering your newly sodded lawn. 

  1. Water for 15-30 minutes in each zone early in the morning, before 10am.
  2. Later that same day, between 4pm-6pm water for an additional 15-30 minutes in each zone. 
  3. Repeat this process 2-3 times per week for 3-4 weeks. After that, you can go to a reduced watering schedule. Refer to the Watering Established Lawns section for a recommended schedule. 
  4. After the first week of the sod being installed, occasionally walk along the seams between the sod pieces to gently press the sod down into the soil and help the roots to knit into the soil. 
  5. You can mow your new sod approximately 1 week after installation with a mower height set to 3” with a walk-behind mower. Do not use a riding mower as the weight may be too much and damage the new grass. 
  6. Grass clippings may be left on the lawn to return nutrients to the root zone. 

Important Tips for Watering New Lawns: 

  • Do not over water your new sod as this can cause oversaturation and kill it, cause it to not take root properly or invite disease into the lawn. 
  • If you see water running out onto the street or down your driveway, you’re watering for too long – adjust your watering time to prevent overwatering. 
  • If your grass is a dull green or footprints don’t disappear quickly after walking on it, then your lawn needs watered. 
  • If your sod was planted in the winter, it still needs watered, unless nature has provided lots of moisture 
  • Certain circumstances will require that you adjust this watering schedule: rain, drought, high heat, excessive winds and low humidity. A water gauge can help you determine how much rain nature has provided to help you determine if you need to water more or less. Many sprinkler systems come with a built-in weather gauge that adjusts watering schedules accordingly. 
  • If you’ve bought or built with Miller Family Homes, then your new home’s Rain Bird sprinkler system should be setup with an appropriate watering schedule for you. If you’re unsure or have questions, contact your Customer Care Specialist or Project Manager with questions. 

Watering Established Lawns 

After your lawn has taken solid roots, usually within 4-6 weeks after sod has been laid (but longer for lawns that start from seed), you’ll be able to switch to a lighter watering schedule. If you’re moving into a new or existing home, follow these watering tips as well. 

  • Most grass types and lawns need between 1 to 1.5” of water per week from either watering or nature, even during the winter. 
  • Having a rain gauge can help determine how much water you have gotten from nature, supplement the rest with watering. 
  • Water in the morning, before 10am. If you have to water in the evening, do it between 4pm-6pm. 
  • Water deeply, 2-3 times per week rather than daily. 
  • A typical watering schedule would be: 
  • For 1” of water: 20 minutes (in each zone), 3 times per week. 
  • For 1.5” of water: 30 minutes (in each zone), 3 times per week. 
  • You can determine the exact time with either A.) The Screwdriver Test or B.) Math 
  • A.) The Screwdriver Test: 
  1. Take a long blade screwdriver and push it straight into the ground. If it does not go easily then your lawn needs watered. This is a good time to determine the exact amount of watering time if it has not been set by a professional. 
  2. Turn on your sprinkler system or watering method. 
  3. After 15 minutes, shut off the water. 
  4. Take the screwdriver and push it straight into the soil again. If it does not reach 6” easily, turn the water back on. If it does, make note of the time and use this going forward. 
  5. Repeat until the screwdriver is easily pushed 6” into the ground, noting the time when it does and using this time going forward. 
  • B.) Math: 
  1. Multiple the square feet of your lawn by 0.62 gallons. This will provide you with the amount needed to reach 1” of water per square feet. 
  2. Divide this number by the sprinkler’s flow rate to determine how long to water. 
  • If it rains, is extremely hot or windy, you may need to adjust your watering schedule. 
  • Mower height should be set to 3” throughout the season. Any less and you can severely damage your lawn. 
  • Grass clippings may be left on the lawn to return nutrients to the root zone. 

General Watering Tips 

  • If your lawn starts growing mushrooms, you’re watering too much. 
  • If water is running into the street while your watering, you’re watering for too long – adjust your watering time. 
  • If your lawn has a grayish tint or is a dull green, then it needs watered. 
  • If your footprints don’t disappear quickly after walking on it, then it needs watered. 
  • Grass requires more water when its hot, during times of drought, when there is low humidity and when it’s very windy. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly by either increasing times or skipping a watering day altogether if needed. 
  • Overwatering is as harmful as not watering at all. 
  • The later in the day you water, the greater chance of disease you’re welcoming. 
  • Lawns turn brown when they go dormant or to sleep, as they typically do in the late Fall and early Winter. If you are not watering enough during warm or hot seasons, your lawn will try to go dormant to protect itself. 
  • If a dormant lawn does not return to a lush green color in some spots or all of the lawn after watering, your lawn may be sick. Contact a professional lawn care company for a diagnosis and to get your lawn healthy again. 
  • Seasonal dormancy is normal and fine, off-season dormancy can be harmful. Use regular watering to prevent causing your lawn stress. 
  • During the winter, if there isn’t any type of moisture (frost, dew, ice, sleet, snow, etc.) for 2-3 weeks you’ll want to give your lawn a drink of water, even if it is dormant, to help it get through the winter. One watering on your typical watering schedule should suffice for a few weeks. 

If you have bought or built with Miller Family Homes, your new home has an Rain Bird sprinkler system. You can learn more about this system and find helpful tips and information on their website at RainBird.com/Homeowners  

You can download a quick reference guide for lawn care tips here. 

We hope this information will help you in caring for your lawn. If you have further questions, ask your Customer Care Specialist or a professional lawn care technician or company. 

All information provided here is intended to be a guide for watering your lawn and should not be used in place of information, advice or help provided by professional lawn care technicians or sprinkler installation professionals. Miller Family Homes cannot be held responsible for any negative results from the information provided here. If you have significant questions or concerns about your lawn, contact a professional lawn care company.