Water New Grass with an In-ground Irrigation System

One of the chief components to ensuring a newly installed lawn takes root and establishes well is water, lots and lots of water. I was told by my landscaper and the sod farm to water it at least twice a day for the first two weeks. If we were having a really super hot August (thankfully, we’re not) I’d probably have to water even more.

Fortunately, when I moved into this house 22 years ago, I installed an irrigation system. Unfortunately, I talked my husband into making it a DIY project.  Yep, that’s me–the crazy woman who tried to install her own irrigation system. Never, ever again!

Here’s how that story went: My husband and I were attending a party with couples around our age and one couple was going on and on about how they had just installed an in-ground sprinkler system for their yard. Really? Installed it themselves? They must have said a half-dozen times how EASY it was!  I guess I had some DIY spirit even back then because I left the party all excited, raring to go home and install our own irrigation system!

My husband wasn’t near as excited but to make me happy, he went along with the idea. We were getting ready to do some serious landscaping and I envisioned a beautiful lawn that I’d easily be able to keep watered during our hot Georgia summers.

To make a long story short, our attempt to install our own irrigation system was a complete disaster. The machine we rented to dig the holes was huge and operating it was like trying to control a 500 pound gorilla. My husband was able to get all the trenches dug with the machine but at some point we realized we were definitely in over our heads. Neither one of us knew anything about irrigation systems.

We had bought all the piping and sprinkler heads we needed at a local hardware store but when we came to our senses and called in a professional, we returned all that unused product. Cape Cod Irrigation came to our rescue. Barry (owner of Cape Cod) was wonderful and he gave us a break on the cost since we had already dug so many of the trenches that would be needed for the system.

After allll that, over the years I have hardly ever used the irrigation system. Our weather has been a story of extremes. We’ve either had severe, severe drought where watering was prohibited, or monsoons where it definitely wasn’t needed.  For a while Georgia was in such a severe drought and water restrictions were so tight, we were prohibited from watering outside at all. At one point, we were on the verge of water rationing here in Metro Atlanta. The mayor of Atlanta (or was it our Governor?) was even telling folks to not flush every time–it was that bad!  The rationing was already occurring in counties north of us. Imagine only having access to water a few hours each day!  Amazing how things have changed. We are now in a surplus state, fighting flooding in some areas of our state.

Over the years I’ve turned on the irrigation system every so often just to see if it still works. It does. At some point, maybe during the tree removal process, one of the irrigation heads near the road was crushed. When I fired up the system recently to water all this new Zeon zoysia, I noticed one section didn’t seem to be getting watered as well.

I checked online and discovered Cape Cod Irrigation is still in business. That says a lot about the company. So many companies tanked during the drought years, even the irrigation companies since you couldn’t water  the yard anyway. Cape Cod came out to service my system and installed a new head where the old one had been crushed. Several heads were starting to leak due to age.  The heads  had lasted 20 years, but it was definitely time to replace a few.

Irrigation System for Front Yard

It wasn’t very expensive to replace the leaky heads. Now everything is up and running beautifully again and the system is finally getting a good workout! As soon as my grass was installed, the rain we’ve been having ceased. Figures, right? I dread seeing my water bill next month, I’m sure it will be a shocker.

I called my water company to let them know that my usually low water bill was going to go up because I just had 16 pallets of sod installed. I asked them if they gave folks a break on the sewer portion of the bill when the usage is due to watering newly installed grass. The answer was a big fat, NO. πŸ™

Oh well, I have to keep it watered, sod is too big an investment to not keep it watered. The good news is, once it’s established, it’s very drought tolerant, much more so than fescue. Fescue hates our hot Georgia summers. Update: since I started writing this post a few days ago, we’ve been getting a little rain. Yay!

It has been wonderful having the irrigation system and I haven’t missed dragging hoses all over the yard.  My system has 4 zones: front yard, foundation area, other side of the driveway and the backyard. The arrows below mark where the heads are located in the front yard. I had the system running at the time I took the photo below so you many be able to see the water spraying out across the lawn.

Irrigation System for Front Yard a

Do you have an older irrigation system? I had no idea my heads were leaking until my irrigation guy showed me. I wish I had taken a photo of how it looked when leaking. Since I didn’t think to take a picture, I’ll just describe it so if you do have an irrigation system, you’ll know what to look for.

Down around the base of the sprinkler head, water was pooling all around the head itself. In the picture below with the new replacement head, note how the only water you see is being sprayed out. Water isn’t pooling around the base of the head where it enters the ground. This is the way it should look. Apparently the seals (or whatever they’re called) wear out over time. So, if you have an old system, check the heads to see if they are leaking. If they are, you’ll want to replace the leaky ones before using it. All that pooling wastes water and your hard-earned money.

Rainbird Irrigation Sprinkler_wm


Rain Shut-Off Device…Love this thing!

Have you ever been out driving on a rainy day and passed a house or the entrance to a business or subdivision where the sprinklers were running?  Dumb, right? Paying money to water the grass while it’s raining!

This problem can be prevented with a rain shut-off device. Cape Cod Irrigation installed this one 20 years ago when they installed my irrigation system and it still works!  I had my system scheduled to run yesterday but it didn’t due to the rain shut-off device. Here’s how it works: When it rains, water collects in the cup and a little sensor realizes it doesn’t need to run. This saves you money if you have your system set to run automatically at a set time each day or week. When the water evaporates, the sensor detects that and your lawn will get watered when it’s next scheduled to run. Love having this little device!

Rain Shutoff Device


Sod Replacement

My landscaper came back out yesterday and replaced those questionable looking pieces of sod.

Zeon Zoysia Sod That May Need to Be Replaced

They appeared to have grass growing up through them, so they may have been okay. But since they were so ugly against the green of the rest of the grass, he went and ahead and replaced them. You can easily spot where they were replaced, the new pieces are a much lighter green.

Zeon Sod in Front Yard Landscape

Unfortunately, about 20-25 other pieces have this going on—see picture below. My irrigation guy noticed it first. It’s nutsedge and depending on the type of nutsedge it is, it can be really invasive. The tuber types of nutsedge are really bad. You can’t tell what type it is at this stage. When inspectors visit sod farms, if they find this, they shut that field down until it’s eradicated.  Google nutsedge and you can read all about it.

So, now my landscaper will be replacing those pieces, too. Kind of makes me sad because just as my yard is greening up and growing together, new pieces keep being brought out and the process begins again. The new pieces to replace the nutsedge will be installed this Saturday.


Ever had nutsedge in your yard? If so, how did you get rid of it?

Update: Just talked with the sod farm and they said a great product for fighting nutsedge is Certainty. Just Google Certainty for nutsedge and you’ll find it. They are replacing my nutsedge sod pieces tomorrow, but I’m filing this info away in case it shows back up one day.

Be sure to stop in tomorrow. I have a fun little DIY project I’ll be posting and I think you’re going to like it. πŸ™‚ You may even want to make some for your home!

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  1. We installed an irrigation system when we built our home 21 years ago. We use ours religiously, without it we would have no lawn. It comes in handy in drought areas because you waste a lot less than hand watering and you can set it to come on during the middle of the night so as not to lose water to evaporation. I would never have another home without it. Your lawn is looking great! Are you going to get another Kitty?

    • Debbie, I’m really using mine now! Glad I have it. Hopefully I won’t need it very much once the Zeon is established.

      No, I can never go through losing another one again. And despite what folks think, that’s a firm, No…not a “maybe” or “I’ll change my mind with time” kind of no. It’s a real, No. The last two have almost done me in, so I’ll just enjoy other people’s furbabies now. It’s the only way I can keep the little sanity I have left.

  2. I totally understand. I lost my sweet Izzy 2 years ago and my heart still aches for her. I keep thinking, maybe someday, but then I change my mind. It’s like losing a child. I really feel for you and what you have gone through. Hang in there.

    • Thanks, Debbie, It was excruciating and even now when I think about Max or I think about those last two months and what it was like, I feel sick to my stomach, truly sick. I know I could never make it through that again. I have to block it out now to be able to function each day, otherwise it would overwhelm me. I just pray more than anything that we get to see our furbabies again one day. They are so sweet, so innocent and the unconditional love they give us is such a blessing and irreplaceable. I’m so sorry you lost your sweet Izzy…I know that feeling of an achy heart and it is the pits. The friends I’ve talked to have said it never really goes away. I’ve lost pets before but the last two really took their toll on me. That’s why I know I can never go through it again. We will see our babies again one day, Debbie, I do believe that!

      • I know that our sweet babies will be waiting for us on the other side with sweet sounds of purring and wagging tails to greet us. I know you are right and we will see them someday soon. Thanks for all you do to brighten my days. I have been following your blog for some time now and I feel you are a dear friend.

  3. Rattlebridge Farm says

    Yikes, my sod is full of nutsedge (the sod was installed long ago). I had no idea what it was. The old irrigation system is due for a good check up. It’s so funny that you mentioned the water company. Just yesterday I found a blue notice on my front door, saying that I had a leak from “my end” and the meter was spinning and spinning; increased consumption was noted, too. Well, I have two non-irrigation sprinklers (above ground; attached to a faucet) on timers to water Will’s garden and the island–everything would perish if I didn’t water them. We aren’t on sewer, but
    I know the bill is going to make me so dizzy, I’ll put my head between my knees. I called a plumber to check everything, just in case we do have a leak. (We also had a HUGE propane bill–again–so we’re getting that checked, too.) I’m also calling an irrigation co. to check the nozzles. I saw one that was gushing water onto the knockout roses–flooding one plant and missing the rest. By the way, I am enjoying the photos of your yard. The sod has stitched together so beautifully and looks like a green carpet. I’m glad the company replaced the splotched pieces. Can’t wait to see what you plant this fall. xxoo

    • Yikes, you def want to get that leak fixed. It would have to be on your side, wouldn’t it? πŸ™ If it’s on their side, they fix it. Ha, I think I’ll need to do that when my water bill arrives. I’ll remember that technique…head between the knees…because I have a feeling I’m going to need it when the bill shows up. Thanks, Michael! My to-do list is a mile long! I just love that you are do so much gardening…can’t wait to see it all in bloom next spring!

      • Rattlebridge Farm says

        Oh, Susan, when I awoke this morning, the goats had attacked all 4 urns that I’d planted. The only plants that escaped were the ones that I’d hidden behind a pitchfork. The goats even dislodged lemons that I’d stuck in the urns for a little color! But they didn’t like the lemons! The mums somehow escaped. My porch is covered with dirt and dead flowers. I was disheartened. The plants weren’t cheap, and I am no spring chicken to be planting. πŸ™‚ I’m buying a tension mounted baby gate for the porch today==and a new blower to whisk away the tons of potting soil. Must find weak spots in the fence. The goats ate ivy, verbena, coneflowers–and even the hydrangea cuttings. I am learning that gardening is always fraught with dangers (as well as pleasures), and it is always a work in progress, filled with Plan Bs. xxoo

        • Oh, noooo! I would have been so ticked! I would have been wagging my finger in their faces saying, “Bad Goats” about 25 times! They would have thought they had a crazy woman on their hands! I wish I lived closer, I’d buy you some new flowers and come help you plant them! Don’t give up! The goats will not win!

  4. It’s a war out there and I fear, sometimes, “they’re” winning….franki

  5. Hey Susan…the sod is looking so good. I don’t have sod however I do have nutsedge. Apparently it is not picky and will grow anywhere. I finally got an in ground sprinkler system when my water bill went sky high. Most people have a well in my area and they have the sprinkler system hooked to the well. Of course we do not have to pay for well water just the electricity to run the pump. If we have a drought we can still water because we are not using city water. Having the original well re-dug and then having the irrigation system put in was the best thing we have ever done. Would a well be something you could consider for watering the yard? Have a great weekend.

    • Vikki, I don’t know if we’re allowed to have them…that would be so nice for watering if we were. I’ll have to check into it and find out. I’ve been told once the sod is established, it will rarely need watering. Of course, this summer is crazy…raining a lot!

  6. Your yard is looking beautiful, Susan – so open and welcoming! I live in southern CA (though my heart has always been in the true South!), and have fought with the tuberous nutsedge since we moved into our home 25 years ago. Gr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r! We even went so far as to dig and hand-sift our entire backyard prior to plugging it with St. Augustine – we didn’t know about sod back then and would not have been able to afford it anyway!…but we still could not get it all, and since then we have fought it constantly as it tries to assert itself in the yard. We have used several products over the years with somewhat limited results, but I’ve just purchased something called Sedgehammer and am hoping it will do the trick. You really have to keep after it until it is gone, gone, gone, which makes it even more aggravating as it seems to be a lifelong process – even after it’s eliminated from your own lawn, it will find its way over from a neighbor’s yard!

    • Yikes, that nutsedge sounds terrible! I had heard it was awful and very difficult to get rid of. I like that name, Sedgehammer! πŸ™‚ Will you let me know if it works? I hope they replace all the pieces in my yard that have it…sounds so difficult to get rid of!

  7. Linda Page says

    I know that you would like for your lawn to look all matched and perfect but just think how beautiful it will be next spring. Your house just looks amazing with all of this new landscaping. I wish I had an irrigation system. Have thought about it but we are still moving sprinklers and hoses at my house.

    • I will definitely let you know how it works. I’ve heard very good reports about it, so I have high hopes. It may be a year-long process to catch all the little buggers as they rear their sprout-y heads, but it will sure be worth it. πŸ™‚

      • Jan, I was just talking with the sod farm and they are replacing the nutsedge pieces tomorrow. But he told me if I ever see any down the road, the best stuff to use is something called Certainty. He said that’s what they use on the sod farms. Here’s a link: http://www.monsanto.com/products/Pages/certainty-turf-herbicide.aspx So if the Sedgehammer doesn’t work, you may want to try this stuff. πŸ™‚

        • Thank you so much for that info, Susan! I read up on it, and saw this little caveat: “St. Augustine grass may be more sensitive to this product than other grasses”…of course! So I hope the Sedgehammer works, but I will certainly try Certainty if it doesn’t. πŸ™‚

  8. Kelli Culpepper says

    Your sod is looking great. We resodded in Texas years ago – I had the sprinkler system on often and walked it so to speak. Had my two teenage sons at the time and the rest of of the team walking it too. We did St. Augustine grass – and had no problems with it.

    Nut grass – I truly despise – however I’m finding that Creeping Charlie is an even bigger challenge. What I find with the nut grass is them more you water the more nutgrass you’ll have. I had it much more in my beds than I did in the grass. I think once your new sod gets established and you’re watering less your nutgrass problem might get better. We hand pulled – the runners and the nut head are very exciting when you get a good run, but it will be very trickly in the yard. Lowes has something in a little bottle, I think it might even be called Nutsedge. Not certain if it works.

    Good luck. I really do love your blog. Your deck and screened in porch have inspired me!

  9. Your yard looks so pretty! Lots of hard work.
    Had nutsedge (I always knew it as nutgrass) in my back yard at the house I sold long ago. I gave up trying to keep it under control.
    After losing my last 2 kitties (one just disappeared and the other had to be put down), I said no more. Now allergies have gotten so bad there definitely will not be any more.
    Enjoy your weekend.

  10. Susan, VERY informative post! Our irrigation system is 22 years old and well past due for some maintenance. And I had never heard about that rain shut-off device. Definitely will tell the hubby about that! I am really enjoying all your entries about your yard update.

  11. Mary from Virginia says

    Everything is looking great! The sloop of your yard to your house is so lovely.

    I have seen a few of those nutsedge around and about in our yard. Here in my part of VA August weather brings out all the weirdness in a lawn. Our humidity is the worst and we get off and on rain showers that just add to the weirdness. I work hard not to give up on the lawn or my plants, but the temptation is great.

    We have wells just for watering the yard and plants. Most of my neighbors have sprinkler systems. We’re the old folks dragging hoses around the yard. My sister has an irrigation system that is checked seasonally. She is having some sprinkler heads replaced today.

    It sounds like you are working with some good companies. It is amazing everything lasted for 20 years.

  12. CAROLYN ROACH says

    Susan, one of the best decisions you made was to remove the big tree in front of your house. Everything looks so open and pretty now. Can’t wait to see it next spring when you get your annuals in.

  13. Having underground sprinkling is suuuuuuch a blessing, isn’t it, Susan?? πŸ™‚ We used to have it our lake house and it was so nice to wake up in the morning to the sound of our sprinklers giving our lawn a morning drink. When we had it installed, we had the piping run for us and we put in the heads ourselves. Saved ourselves alot of money that way. We don’t have it here out at our farmhouse…..yet. lol Thanks for the tip on nutsedge, too. We have that in various places around our property.

    xoxo laurie

  14. Sod is lookin’ good…. Oh, I didn’t know what that stuff was, Nutsedge. Huh. I thought it was a wildflower that’s been popping up, which has blue blooms and looks kinda pretty. But I noticed this stuff didn’t bloom. OK, not very observant of me. Oh goody, it’ll go very well with the crabgrass tryin’ to take over. Woo. Hoo.

  15. It’s looking so good!! My irrigation company checks my system every year and replaces anything leaky. I LOVE that irrigation system- I’m such a gardener and lawn fanatic that it makes me feel so totally spoiled and its been worth every penny. I do occasionally see the nutsedge start but I usually take an artist paint brush, dip it in roundup and brush it on the leaves (careful not to drip it on grass) the minute I see it, and I’ve been able to keep it under control. Can’t wait to see your beds with spring color!

    • Tess, once they replace the bad pieces today, I think I’ll try your technique. It would be like me to spill the solution. So that works? Does it ever take a second application? I love the idea of putting it right where you need it.

  16. Hello Susan,
    My sister’s name was susan. I love your name. Im new to you. I came for the home tours and I”ll never leave. I’m greatful for you and really enjoy reading about well everything. keep up the great work.. and try to take a break to enjoy your fab house and yard. thanks melissa b.

  17. Susan, your lawn is going to be beautiful. Here in So. Cal. most everyone has irriagated lawns and gardens. Water is so expensive and the irrigation systems are usually about as effecient as you can get. We had the trenches dug and then did the sprinklers ourselves. Over the years I learned how to replace the heads myself. I had a tendency to distroy them while mowing or working in the yard. lol In 25 years they got a lot of use.

  18. Susan, I am so glad you have an i rrigation system – I would love one! In fact rolling up a hose recently I disturbed an underground bees nest, got stung, it became infected and yesterday I had to go to the doctor for antibiotics and a tetnus shot! Seriously! I NEED an irrigation system, haha.

    As far as Nutsledge, never knew what that was but we just started getting it last year and I pull it out over and over and it is getting out of control – I HATE it – so definately need to check up on “Certainty!” Thank you for the tips!

    Your yard is going to be amazing, these are just little hiccups along the way, not a big deal and once it all grows together the same colour it will be AMAZING.

    I am so happy for you, maybe even jealous, but in a good way.

  19. Susan, Your yard is looking great! We use our irrigation system regularly and have the system checked and serviced each spring. You are spot on about how a leak looks. Great advice.
    I couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of you and hubby fighting the trench digger. Sounds like the things that Bob and I used to get into. In our previous home we were going to install crown moulding in the bedrooms. At least we decided to start in the master bath. After chewing up twelve feet of crown moulding we gave up. Might have saved our marriage.
    Hugs, Ginger

  20. Irrigation systems are a dream come true for all who have dragged hoses around, first for their parents and later our own lawn and gardens. We bit the bullet 7 years ago and dug a well. Yes the total cost (yikes!) including the electrician was slightly less than $2500. HOWEVER: we live in an area that has been in a drought for years. We payed for that well in less than 6months of water bills(we have a large corner lot) and for over a year after, my husband every month would say, “We should have done this years ago”. AND on well water, you can water when you please, not depleting the city water supply… It is wonderful to be able to water Hydrangeas 2x a day as I have them in a separate watering zone than the others. Love it. If I had to choose between my water well-sprinkler system and my dishwasher, I would happily give up the dishwasher. Think about a well.

  21. Morning Susan. We wish we could have irrigation. We had it at our previous house in Lawerenceville. Here, we have to deal with the City Council who controls the water system – small town government. One thing we had in Lawerenceville we loved was a separate meter for the landscape – knowing that it was intended for the lawn exclusively, we were not charged sewer fees – which can be just as much as the fee for the use of the water. Perhaps you can establish a separate meter for the outdoor watering as well. I hope you have a wonderful week,


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