Answer: Here are some general guidelines for helping your new sod become established: WATERING Your lawn should be watered immediately to moisten the soil and the sod. Water thoroughly, providing about an inch of water over the entire lawn. The sod will require consistent moisture for the next 7-10 days to ensure good, even root development. Water the lawn lightly to keep the sod moist at least twice daily; 15-20 minutes is sufficient. Once the sod has begun to "knit" to the soil surface, gradually increase the duration and decrease the frequency of your waterings until you are watering once a week for 45 minutes to an hour (long enough to provide one inch of water). This schedule can be adjusted for the weather, of course, with more frequent applications during the early stages if we experience hot, dry, or windy weather. Less water is needed during periods of rainy or cold weather. Watering is best done during the overnight hours. The hours between 10:30pm and 2:00am are best. This limits the amount of time the grass blades are wet, thus reducing the threat of disease establishment. Do not water from 6:00am through the remainder of the day. Watering during the heat of the day will not damage the grass, but too much of the water is wasted through evaporation loss before the grass ever has a chance to use it. Sod is a very perishable commodity. It can dry out very quickly in sunny, windy weather. Until the roots have grown down into the soil, it is critical that the sod not dry out. As long as this doesn't happen, your results should be excellent. FERTILIZING Your new lawn should be fertilized with a slow-release fertilizer 3-4 times per year. The most important application is in early September. A second application is November is the next most important. Sometimes an additional application in October is made for an even higher quality turf. If this application is made, the November application is bumped to December. Just remember the "SOD" rule: September, October, December. Spring fertilization is not recommended. This has been shown to enhance fungal disease activity during the Summer months. Besides, the largest portion of the energy is directed into top growth. This just translates into more frequent mowing. Who needs that?! MOWING Mow your lawn as soon as the new sod is well rooted enough to permit the mower traffic without damage. Allowing the new grass to become too tall is detrimental and can result in loss of some of the new stand. Always set the mower at 3 inches or above and mow frequently enough that you never remove more than one inch at a time. Keep mower blades sharp for the cleanest, safest cut. Lawns cut with dull blades loose moisture more rapidly, are more subject to disease, and take on a lighter, almost grayish cast. This comes from the shredded ends of the grass blades drying out and turning a pale brown in the sun. Best wishes with your new sod.
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