Can You Overwater Grass Seed?

By Brian Mounts | Jun 27, 2020
Can You Over Water Grass Seed

Over the years I’ve reseeded my fair share of dead patches in the lawn. I’ve even seeded new lawn areas as I’ve expanded my yard into new territory. Through these experiences I’ve learned a great deal about watering grass seed the right way and how to avoid mistakes.

Overwatering grass seed is actually one of the most common mistakes made by many first timers. Let me explain.

Can You Overwater Grass Seed?

Grass seed can be overwatered resulting in a few different undesirable outcomes. Too much water can result in poor germination rates, washed away seeds, and in some cases the seeds themselves can rot on the ground.

Even though grass seed needs to be consistently moist day-in and day-out until most sprouts are growing there are better ways to achieve this than randomly pulling out the sprinkler and watering the whole area heavily.

Yes, you can overwater grass seeds. However, that isn’t all the answer you need to know.

A regular sprinkler head will spray your seeds with water spray that is usually to abrasive–the droplets are too big and moving too fast. For regular grass this is fine but for seeds on bare soil it can move them around into clumps that aren’t even.

The water could cover the seed up with excess mud slowing and stopping germination.

Too much water can also pool on the ground before getting absorbed allowing grass seeds to float and wash away leaving more bare spots and more clumping.

These of course are just the most common results of overwatering grass seeds–there are others too, but the most important point is that there are easy ways to avoid these pitfalls.

Learning all of this stuff one-fact-at-a-time can take a season or two; if you want to get to a better yard faster than that then you might be interested in this resource.

How to Know if You Are Excessively Watering Grass Seed

Different types of grass will germinate at different temperatures and at different speeds but they all are identical in two different facets–they all need seed to soil contact and they all need to be kept adequately moist all the way until the grass blades start to emerge.

How Much Water Does Grass Seed Need?

Grass seed is just like any other kind of seed. It needs to stay moist almost constantly to germinate. If the seed dries out it will “die” and if it is waterlogged it will not germinate reliably and/or it will wash away.

Grass seeds need only a couple of minutes of light watering a few times a day to start germinating but external and environmental factors will play a large role in the frequency of your watering.

When I put down seed I always follow a strict regimen to ensure the seed puts down roots.

Before I ever put seed on the ground I take time to deeply water the bare spot that I plan on seeding. If the spot is small are large seeds always seem to stay consistently moist when they are resting on soil that is moist and isn’t sucking the moisture out of the seed.

I then setup a dedicated misting hose to the seed patch area that is on a timer set to go off a bunch of times throughout the day. If it’s hot out it will go off more frequently (every hour or so) and if it’s cool and cloudy out it will go off less frequently (every few hours or so).

The secret for me is the misting hose which will let all the seed get moist without disturbing the seed or the soil around it in any way.

This misting hose can be directed directly towards the seeds to ensure they get wet.

If you hook a timer like this one up to the hose that can go off six times a day then you will probably get great germination fairly quickly.

The fact of the matter is that grass seeds need water, and they need water frequently. Simply watering them just once or twice a day whenever you remember to isn’t usually enough and it sure can’t be considered overwatering… unless you are watering for too long each cycle.

If you do go the route of watering with an irrigation system, a sprinkler connected to a hose, or by some sort of manual means then take care to not water for too long because if you water too deeply when trying to keep the seeds wet you are at risk of water starting to pool on the surface. This is something that needs to be avoided at all costs when trying to get seeds to germinate.

How Soft Should the Ground Be

If you are doing great with watering your seeds and they don’t look to be moving around, clumping, getting burried, etc then you should be aware that germination rates can also be affected by the softness of the soil they are sitting on. This is why all grass growing guides will tell you to prep your soil before you put seed down.

The soil under the seed can’t be compacted or overly hard otherwise the seed will have a hard time sending it’s firt roots into the ground.

As I noted above I like to prep the area for seed by lossening up any compaction that exists. I then mix in a small amount of seed starter into to the loose soil to keep the upper layer, the seed bed, as soft as possible.

My secret tip though is that I then deeply water the entire area at this point to get as much water down into the ground as possible so that any misting I do on top doesn’t dry out as fast.

The deep water prior to sowing seed makes it possible for me to water the seed more frequently but with less water per cycle to ensure the seeds stay damp without getting too much water at a time.

Multiple short cycles per day on top of a loosened and most bed help newly formed roots penetrate the ground deeper forming the foundation for healthy turf grass.

You want to encourage your roots to go as deep as possible and this is one of the best times possible to make that happen.

Make sure to see this post for more on getting your grass roots to grow deep.

Keep A Close Eye Out For Pooling Water

Even if you are using a delicate spray to water your seeds upon close inspection there may be a few areas in your seed bed that may start pooling water. This is not good for a few reasons.

Pooling water means the ground under the seeds may be water logged or compacted. This can result in that small area getting soggy on top. Your seeds may float and move, clump together, or if there are waterlogged regularly they could even start to rot which of course would be a big waste of time and seed.

So, yes, you can overwater grass seeds. However, there are several things that can happen because of overwatering, such as:

  • The seeds might actually have adverse effects because of being lodged in water- not all plants can stand that much water. This is one of the things you must consider, because, some seeds will actually die if you keep them water lodged for too long. So, be sure not to actually keep them waterlogged for too long.
  • The seeds can also be displaced because of too much water. Should the seeds be displaced, the growth pattern won’t be the same as when you sowed them.
  • Excess watering can even move the soil! This would also end up moving your seeds or displacing them in a way that they might not be ultimately able to germinate properly. For example, the seeds or newly germinated plants might be buried under the soil, cut off from sunlight, which would ultimately kill them. So, the best way to avoid this is to be careful when watering them.
  • Again, there are several bacteria and fungi that grow much faster when the place is water-lodged. This is again something that you want to avoid, because these would then act upon your seeds. And that is not a good thing, because they might actually end up damaging, or even killing the seeds.

Can you Underwater Grass Seeds?

Naturally, overwatering isn’t the only thing that might happen. Should you be cautious and end up watering it too little, you might actually underwater it! That would mean, that the seeds will slowly start to show lesser signs of vitality, and finally dry up.

Should the seed dry up, it might actually die. So, underwatering is equally harmful because it might also make your seeds die! So, keeping an eye out on the amount of water you’re using is absolutely indispensable if you want to keep them healthy. A healthy lawn needs a lot more care than is apparent from the looks of it, to be honest. So, you can’t really shy away from work if you plan to get a beautiful lawn!

See my full grass growing guide here for more helpful tips – no opt-in needed.

How to strike the right balance when it comes to watering?

Striking the right balance is essential if you want healthy plants and a healthy lawn. So, you need to consider several factors in order to determine the right amount of water. The main points that you might want to consider are:

  • Slope of Land: First you must understand that the slope of the land is actually a really serious thing. It is really important in determining the amount of water you should use. The higher the slope, the more water you generally need. You might learn more about growing grass on a steep hill from our article here.
  • Climate: Another major factor that you simply cannot ignore is the overall climate. The amount of rainfall is of special importance because it determines the amount of water you should use. Naturally, the more the rainfall, the lesser the amount of water you should use, and vice versa. Again, you might also want to keep in mind the overall temperature level and sunlight level. It is essential to consider the rates of transpiration before watering the plants in order to strike the right balance.
  • The exact species you’re using: Even when it comes to grass,  there are several varieties. Now, each variety has a different definition for an equilibrium level of water. You might want to do your research on this. You need to find out the exact amount of water the seeds you selected need. And only by using water in accordance with this can you actually use the right amount of water.
  • Keep record of your watering: One mistake a lot of us do, at least during the initial stage, is ending up watering at least once extra a day. This is a major mistake, and your seeds might have to pay the price for it. So, that’s something you want to avoid. To avoid this mistake, keeping track of the number of times you water your lawn is the best method. Try to write down whenever you water your lawn, to always know how many times you’ve done it already.
  • Not watering too much at once: Again, some people don’t divide the watering properly. You need to give the soil enough time to soak the water. If you water the ground too much at once, it doesn’t really get the time to do that, and puddles form. This is a serious mistake, and you might want to avoid it all costs if you want to keep your seeds healthy.
  • Keep and eye out for the health of seeds/shoots: Another way to know how it’s all going is to keep an eye out on the health of your seeds/shoots. If they don’t start to grow even when it’s time for them to grow, or show stunted growth, you might want to do your research as to why that’s happening. Generally, underwatering is the leading reason for low growth, and not overwatering.

Conclusion

All in all, if you keep these points in mind, it would not be too hard for you to water the plants properly. You might also want to check our article on “How Long to Water Grass Seeds With Sprinkler Heads” if you’re interested in doing a little more research. It is really recommended that you do your research to ensure that your seeds can remain healthy and you can have a beautiful lawn.

There are a handful of things that you can do to have the beautiful lawn you’re trying to get.The main things that you might want to do, are as follows:

  • Be vigilant: The first thing is to actually be vigilant. You need to be on the lookout for the slightest symptoms of problems. You also need to be on the lookout for anything else that might harm your seeds.
  • Be patient: Seeds don’t sprout in a day, it takes time. If you rush and water them too much, you are bound to end up overwatering them. Being patient is the only thing that is going to pay off, so that’s the wisest choice here.
  • Know your plant: Knowing your plant is essential in order to actually take care of it. You need to know about how much water it needs, how much temperature it can stand, how long it takes to grow etc. So, knowing about it is absolutely indispensable.
  • Do your research: Next, you need to actually do your research. It is also important to know anything related to what you’re trying to do in order to do it properly. Hence, it’s advised that you try to find out about the other conditions as well as symbols that would help you understand the situation more. You might also want to do your research on better methods of taking care of your plants.
  • Keep checking out Turf Mechanic: We here at Turf Mechanic always try to provide you with the best information to help you out. So, you might want to keep checking back frequently for the right information to help you out. Here’s a related article you might want to check out: How to Keep Birds From Eating Grass Seeds?