The Q&A Archives: Dwarf Fescue Sod

Question: I recently had Dwarf Fescue Sod laid in my front yard. I now have brown and grey spots in several places. I do know that the installers applied too much fertilizer in the ground before they laid the sod. I water in the early mornings due to the high heat of my area. Will the dead spots come back? And what can I do to aleviate the situation?

Answer: Here's how to have a successful sod lawn:
During the first Wwek keep the sod and soil beneath completely soaked--it is almost impossible to overwater during this period. As a general guide, water 3 times a day during this critical first week. Watering times should be approximately 10-15 minutes. These numbers may need to be adjusted in inland valleys during high temperatures. Frequency and length of watering will depend on how warm, how windy and how long it takes the lawn to dry out after watering. During this first week, the goal is to keep the sod and soil moist all the time.

During the second week, slowly reduce watering cycles and lengths gradually, allowing the soil to firm. This will also make it possible to mow the grass for the first time by the end of the second week without leaving ruts and indentations ion the sod. After the first mowing, gradually decrease watering to a more normal schedule for your area. If the lawn has significant topgrowth, only remove one-third of the grass blades at any one mowing.

Proper watering practices cannot be emphasized enough.
Stay off the new sod for at least 14 days--this includes pets, too! Footprints or urine spots on new, moist sod may cause permanent problems.
Mow for the first time after two weeks with the mower set at the highest setting to avoid scalping the new lawn. Never mow off more than one-third of the height of the grass. Mow again in five days if needed.
Fertilize the grass for the first time after about 6 weeks, and follow a regular maintenance fertilization schedule depending on your fertilizer grade and instructions.

These are hot spots, wilted areas that are suffering from lack of water. Soak with a garden hose and check your sprinkler coverage immediately!

Within 10 days your sod should have many roots emerging. If not check your watering cycles. NOTE: Sod planted in shade will only root very slowly, if at all. Most turfgrass sod needs at least 4 to 5 hours of full sun daily to successfully root and become established. Sodding in shady areas is not recommended.

These can be caused by pets, dry spots, areas that are not rooting properly or fungus. About 95% of the time, when you see a brown spot, it is due to lack of water. Check the soil by pushing a long screwdriver into the soil where the sod is healthy, and also in the center of the brown spots. If it is more difficult to push the screwdriver into the brown spot area, it is simply dry. Soak with a hose, adjust sprinkler coverage immediately and watch the area carefully for a few days.

Don't worry about mushrooms. They will not harm your lawn, and will go away when you decrease your watering cycle after the first two weeks. If you have continued mushroom growth, continue to reduce your watering schedule gradually, making sure the lawn does not suffer from lack of water. When the watering is decreased, the mushrooms will naturally go away.

Hope this answers all your questions!

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