Caring for the Newly Sodded Lawn
This is my site Written by Geoff on May 1, 2002 – 5:58 pm

Taking good care of your newly sodded lawn is vital, one mistake and you might as well throw it all on the compost pile. Fortunately, sod is also easy to take care of if you follow a few simple steps. 

New sod should be watered as soon as it has been laid. But how much water is enough? The best way to tell if you’ve watered enough is by taking a few steps onto the turf. If you make deep footprints, your sod has enough water. If the soil seems firm, lift a corner of one of the rolls and inspect it. The soil on the back of the sod should be damp, or wet. If the back of a roll is not damp, water an additional thirty minutes. 

Check your lawn at least once per day during the week after installation, to ensure that there is adequate moisture for the turf to flourish. During hot and/or windy weather, you may need to check for moisture more than once per day. Walk on the new lawn to inspect it. If the soil is soft, and you make deep footprints, or if water has puddled in areas, it is too wet. Unlike the first day of watering, you do not want to make footprints. At this point, you should stop watering for a day or two. Once you begin the watering schedule again, water less often. However, if you walk across your lawn to inspect it and find that the soil is very firm, lift a comer of the grass in several places. The soil should be damp– not dripping wet, or dusty dry. Areas where the grass has wilted, or turned a straw color, have not received enough water. 

Green sod that turns brown almost overnight is an obvious symptom of under watering. Fortunately, the roots and crowns of the grass plant are probably still alive. If immediate action is taken, new leaves will appear in seven to ten days. Another indication of under watering is cracks that appear between the rows of sod. Both of these signs of under watering can be corrected by watering longer than you have been currently, with more water. 

After about five days, the sod has soaked up water like a sponge, and you must reduce your watering habits. If you do not reduce the amount of water applied to your lawn, you risk drowning the sod. Only cattails and bull-rushes will grow in water-logged soils, not grass. Now is the time to begin stretching out the amount of time between watering. 

Mow your new sod when it needs it. You do not need to stay off it just because it has been recently laid. You do, however, need to pay attention to the height of your mower. It is very important to not water immediately before mowing, to prevent the mower sinking in and making ruts. 

Sod is ready to be used instantly. The catch is that early watering often makes the soil underneath the sod soft, and susceptible to ruts. Making deep footprints when the soil is soft will not hurt the sod, but will make for an uneven lawn in the future. If children play in your yard and turn a comer up, just pat it back down. 

Your new sod does not need any type of weed killers. Should a dandelion or other small weed pop up, pull it out, making sure that you pulled out the root as well. Pulling out roots will ensure that weeds will not return. Your new lawn does not need any fertilizer for at least two weeks. 

Conscientious long-term care is extremely important in maintaining your investment in sod. Good maintenance habits ward off disease and weeds. The following information will help you in long-term sod care. 

Mow your sod at 3 to 3 1/2 inches in height. Setting your mower even higher will result in fewer weeds and healthier turf. Clippings should not be collected, unless they are long and smother the grass. Clippings do not create thatch, but do recycle nutrients back into the lawn. 

Sodded lawns that have been growing one year do not have to be watered to stay alive. If you do not water in a drought, the grass will turn brown, go dormant, and will resume growing when rain falls again. Watering to keep grass green is a choice for you to make, but if you over water, you will cause serious problems for your grass. A lawn can be watered anytime, but early morning is ideal as there is usually very little wind. 

It is important to fertilize regularly, whether you hire the work done or do it yourself. Usually sod only needs an application of a balanced fertilizer such as 13-13-13. Contact a lawn maintenance company or visit a garden center to set up a fertilization schedule. 

A good lawn service, will take care of any weed problems. If you plan to control your weeds yourself, remember there are two types of weeds: broadleaf and crabgrass. For broadleaf weeds, like dandelion, we suggest you visit a garden center to discuss the many ways of applying broadleaf herbicides. Crabgrass herbicides are not needed if your sod is thick. A good web site to visit is the Scott Company’s which not only has helpful information but links to how to control weeds and other problems in your lawn.

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Modified: March 7, 2009 at 5:59 pm UTC

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