Sod Maintenance: Caring for Your New Sod

What You'll Need
High phosphorus fertilizer
Sprinkler system

Installing sod can make the development of your lawn much easier. However, if it isn’t well cared for in the beginning it may not thrive, causing you to start over with your efforts. Below are some ways to ensure adequate care for your new sod.

1. Watering the Sod

It is imperative you douse your sod with water as soon as you lay it, within the first hour at the latest. Watering frequently keeps the delicate roots from drying out, especially if your sod is exposed to full sunlight, and it prevents the sod from shrinking in size. Make sure you water uniformly and deeply so it reaches the roots and becomes soggy. Keep soaking it this way with water for the first two weeks.

If temperatures rise or you live in a hot area, you can put sprinklers on every two hours to make sure water penetrates the soil through each panel of sod, especially the edges and the seams. In the summer months, it is always best to water either at night or early morning (when chances of evaporation are minimum). Avoid watering in the evenings, since it may increase the chances of fungus growth.

If your sod starts paling in color, it means it is not receiving enough water. Continue watering it thoroughly so it receives moisture and resumes its previous color.

Once the sod is well rooted (after a month has lapsed), you can cut back the heavy watering schedule to once every two weeks for a half hour to ensure a slightly moist soil. However, on unusually hot days, you can water twice a day, once in the morning and then at night (for 15 minutes each).

2. Fertilizing the Sod

Spreading fertilizer on a lawn

You should fertilize your sod with a high phosphorus fertilizer when you are laying it to help give it a healthy start. Fertilize once again on the thirtieth day of installation, and water it immediately to prevent the sod from burning. Avoid fertilizers with high nitrogen content since these can lead to disease. Remember to fertilize your sod every 50 to 60 days from March to October, resuming this pattern again next spring. Fertilizing in the winter can stress your sod. Use a weed control fertilizer to tackle weeds, if those are an issue in your yard.

3. Keep Traffic Off the Sod

Three feet on a green lawn

Even the slightest pressure on your newly laid sod can cause the delicate root system to tear before it is fully formed (delaying the knitting process with the soil and at the seams). If you have any children or pets, you need to cordon off the area where you have laid sod by making a simple, yet functional, wire frame that will serve that purpose.

4. Mowing the Sod

Wait at least five weeks before mowing your sod to ensure the roots have established themselves into the soil (and will not break due to the weight of the mower). Remember not to mow more than 1/3 of the grass blade length the first time, taking it down from there with each successive mowing (until you reach the height you wish to maintain).