In each of the planting techniques above, mulch is applied immediately after planting to prevent drying of the propagative material.

Once the planting and mulching are completed, water needs to be carefully applied. The soil and developing grasses should not be allowed to dry out until the new grass is about two inches tall. Nevertheless, the watering cannot be so heavy or continuous that the seedlings or new sprouts drown, the soil erodes, or diseases gain a foothold.

At least a month of watering several times each day is necessary to establish the new lawn properly. Sprinklers are preferable to a garden hose. With a sprinkler, the water can be applied slowly and evenly. If the lawn has been planted for a client and the landscaper or turf specialist cannot be at the site to do the watering, the client must be given explicit instructions about how and when to apply the water. Allowance for naturally occurring rainfall should be included in the written instruc­tions. Client responsibilities, such as watering, should be written into any contract drawn between a professional firm and a consumer.

The First Mowing

The first mowing of a new lawn is an important one. The objective is to encourage horizontal branching of the new grass plants as quickly as possible. This creates a thick (dense) lawn. The first mowing should occur when the new grass has reached a height of two and one-half to three inches, and the grass should be cut back to a height of one and one-quarter to one and one-half inches. Thereafter, different species require differing mowing heights for proper maintenance (Table 13-1). For the first mowing, it is a good practice to collect and remove the grass clippings. After that, clipping removal is usually unnecessary unless the grass has grown so tall between mowings that clumps of grass are visible on the lawn. Note that grasses used for soil stabilization will not require mowing.