Answer: Most new sod is well rooted in 7 to 10 days, but avoid walking on the newly sodded lawn for at least 3 weeks--a month is better. If tender new roots are stressed while they are growing into the soil they will take longer to establish the new turf.
A month after it is laid, the new sod might appreciate a snack. Spray it with a liquid lawn fertilizer with a hose end sprayer. Do not use a fertilizer/pesticide combination. Follow the instructions on the package carefully. This snack, combined with the slow acting granular lawn fertilizer mixed into the soil prior to laying the sod, provides all the nutrition the new lawn needs for root and shoot growth until the next regular spring or fall feeding.
Wait as long as possible before mowing your newly sodded lawn for the first time. Mowing requires walking on the turf which can harm the new roots connecting it to the soil. It is a good idea to let the grass grow at least 3 inches tall; 4 is better. If you are sodding some of the southern grasses you will need to cut the new turf a bit sooner.
For that first mowing take just a little off the top and come back 2 or 3 days later and take it down to two inches. Taking the time to cut the grass a little bit twice is less stressful on the new turf that coming on with one deep cut.
If your soil if sufficiently fertile that you need to fertilize only once a year, mid fall--before the ground freezes-- is the time. Then the nutrients are directed toward developing strong, deep grass roots, because the plants are approaching dormancy and are not generating new foliage. If part of your lawn is under deciduous trees, delay fertilizing until after falling leaves are removed or mulched into the lawn with a mulching mower.
If you plan to fertilize twice a season do it in the spring also. This will provide a nutritional boost at the start of the season before soil microbes are fully active and take over nutrition duties. It will also stimulate the grass to green up sooner than it would naturally. Spread fertilizer on parts of the lawn under deciduous trees about a month before their leaves come out.
Use a fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in amounts as recommended on the package. Following the above suggestions will result in a thick, healthy, deep green lawn.
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