Many homeowners have been using their extra time at home to improve their landscapes. We know because we’ve heard from folks with questions about caring for new sod. Proper care for new sod starts sooner than you might think — while it’s still being installed. Follow these tips to get your beautiful new lawn off to a strong start.
Lay Sod Immediately
Your supplier should deliver freshly cut sod. And the sooner you (or your landscape pros) lay the sod after delivery, the better for your new lawn.
Keep the Sod Moist
This is the most important tip: whether on the pallet or on the ground, the sod must stay moist while you work. Do NOT wait until you’re finished laying the sod to water it, especially on hot sunny days. Dry sod is a risk to your investment.
Dampen the Soil
Before you lay the sod, make sure to dampen the bare soil, and keep it damp while you work as well.
First Two Weeks
Keep Off the Grass
New grass is tender. Limit foot traffic until after the first mowing.
Water New Sod Daily
For the first two weeks, water once or twice a day, depending on weather conditions. Lift a corner of the sod here and there to be sure the soil underneath is getting damp.
Saturate the soil no deeper than two inches. If pooling or run-off occurs, you may need to slow the rate of the watering, especially for clay soils.
First Year After Installation
Give your new grass its first mow once you can no longer lift the sod, usually around two weeks after installation. Your lawn may need a day off from watering to help firm up the soil before mowing. Set your mower to the top of the recommended range, and never cut more than one-third of the grass blade.
New grass needs more water than mature grass. Once the grass is established, water half an inch twice per week, but keep an eye on it. If your grass looks stressed with curling leaves or lighter color, give it extra water. If a week is particularly dry, hot or windy, watering three or four times per week rather than twice may be in order during a lawn’s first year.
Too much water can invite root rot, disease and algae. Install a rain sensor to prevent automatic sprinklers form overwatering.
Wait to Fertilize
It may be tempting to feed your new lawn, but fertilizing too soon can burn new shoots and tender roots. Wait to fertilize for a full year, so the grass can reach maturity.
Hold Off on Weed Control
Herbicides can interfere with root development in new lawns, so be patient. Wait a full year until your lawn matures, then apply a pre-emergent herbicide each spring and fall to control common weeds.