Adding a new lawn or restoring an existing one is an exciting and rewarding experience. Knowing how to care for your new sod to help it thrive is vital to the long-term success of your lawn. To start, it is important to remember that new sod, like any live plant, is perishable, and we highly recommend installation immediately after delivery for the best results. Keep in mind maintenance of new sod differs from regular maintenance practices on already established lawns.
Here are some of the most important questions to ask when caring for new sod.
1. How to keep new sod from drying out?
New sod is susceptible to becoming dehydrated. One way to prevent new sod from drying out is by watering the soil prior to installation. If new sod is installed on top of dry soil, it will lose moisture quickly. Dry soil will suck the water out of the sod leaving it underwatered and prone to failure.
Once sod has been installed, maintaining a consistent watering schedule is the best way to keep new sod from drying out.
2. How to water new sod?
Watering is key to healthy growth when caring for new sod. While your watering cycle will depend on the quality of your irrigation system, soil type, and your area’s climate, it is important for new sod to be well watered for at least a month post-installation.
Watering of new sod should only consist of enough water to wet the roots. New sod is unable to soak up much water at once, and too much water will cause root rot and other fungal diseases. The soil should never be soggy underneath new sod. Keep sod moist until it is firmly rooted (about two weeks during the growing season). After the rooting-in period, less frequent and deeper watering can begin.
3. What time of day should new sod be watered?
Start watering new sod early in the morning, just after sunrise, and space out watering into sessions to allow the roots to soak up all the moisture. Stop watering new sod in the evening around sundown. Roots will soak up water much slower once the sun is down, making overwatering much easier.
4. Is it possible to water new sod too much?
It is possible to overwater new sod. While we know grass loves water, new sod is different. New sod has short roots which makes it hard to retain a lot of moisture. It is best to water new sod more frequently with less water, as opposed to large amounts of water all at once.
5. How long does it take for new sod to take root?
Typically, roots will begin establishing themselves between one and two weeks after installation. Factors such as the climate in your area, the season new sod is planted, and the soil quality all play a role in determining how long it takes for new sod to take root.
When caring for new sod, the rooting period is most critical. Be sure not to water your new sod too much. Overwatering can prevent roots from creating a strong bond with the soil.
6. Can I walk on new sod?
It is best to minimize foot traffic on new sod as much as possible to give it time to establish itself. Try to keep pets, kids, and everyone else off new sod until at least the first mowing. New sod is vulnerable until the roots have established themselves. Walking on new sod before the roots have taken hold can cause root failure or poor rooting.
7. When can I mow new sod?
Typically, new sod can be mowed as soon as there is something to mow. The first mowing is generally warranted two weeks after installation. Before mowing, check the progress of your lawn by gently tugging at the sod. The sod should have begun to produce small white roots that keep it from being pulled up from the soil easily. If the sod still comes up from the ground easily, consider waiting a few more days before mowing.
If possible, use a walk-behind mower with the cutting height set high to remove only the top of the leaf blade. Once sod is fully rooted (about three weeks), you can begin regular mowing.
8. When to fertilize new sod?
New sod should be fertilized approximately five weeks after installation. Caring for new sod not only entails proper watering and mowing, but also providing extra nourishment to its roots. Fertilizing new sod will help the roots to continue establishing themselves and support healthy growth.
The type of fertilizer used will depend on the variety of sod installed and your soil type.