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Overseeding, How much water is too much?

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From: Jeff C
Seattle, WA
I'm renovating my lawn. I used a de-thatcher for the first time since the lawn was planted 12 years ago. WOW did a lot a thatch and junk come out (including unhealthy grass). Unbelievable. I then top dressed the entire lawn with about an an inch or so of good quality 2-way (compost+sand) soil. I seeded the lawn with two kinds of seed, one for my backyard which gets only a couple hours of sun max right now on the longest days of the year (have a forest which blocks it most of the year) and Sun/Shade mix for other areas. I then top dressed it again with about no more than 1/4" of peat moss (very very thin) just to help keep the moisture, provide some organic material on the top side of the seeds, and help keep seeds from blowing away. The tricky part is getting my automatic sprinkler system to evenly water the entire area. This is understandably hard to do. If it is sunny (temps are low 70's) I water 3 brief periods a day. Mid-morning, early afternoon, and late-afternoon/early evening (hotest part of the day). I got some pretty bad puddling in a few areas the first two days but after spending a lot of time adjusting the system, I'm finding I'm getting a bit of puddling in one or two areas (about 15% of the yard area), not real bad, the puddling is gone in 15-30 minutes depending on time of day and if it is a clear day. But the ground stays pretty soggy all day long. Here's the problem. If I turn the area on the sprinkler system off or reduce the frequency or duration of watering for that section, the majority of the section dries out. I'm on day 4 now and I realize it could be another 10 days before I start to see germination. Is it okay to have those couple of areas puddle for a few minutes and be a bit soggy for a good part of the day as long as the seeds aren;t floating around in a puddle for several hours, or should I turn the sprinkler off on that section and just hand water for the first week or two? I hope I haven't ruined my chance for germination in those areas by watering too much for the first 4 days?

Extension Message
From: Greg Stack
Extension Horticulturist
Extension Web Development

if the puddling is just due to slight depresions in the area and if it moves away in about 30 minutes I would not consider that a major problem. It's if the water stands there for hours is when you have problems. It is always hard to get entirely uniform moisture application over a lawn to ensure uniform germination with a sprinkler system. You may have to just touch up those areas with hand wataering to help even out the moisture until the grass comes up.

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