Caring for your sod lawn is incredibly important, regardless of season. Of course, there are different methods of care to be employed in the summer and winter months, which is why we at SodLawn have provided instructions and PDFs for you to download to keep your lawn looking its best.
Summer Care For Your New Sod Lawn
THE FIRST 14 DAYS ARE CRITICAL
The establishment of your new sod lawn is easy. Sod should be laid on your dry soil THE VERY DAY IT ARRIVES! If temperatures are above 90° the soil should be moistened the day before to cool soil temperatures and just before install. DO NOT OVER WATER to ensure that you or the installers are not working in muddy conditions. After the sod is installed the initial watering should soak the sod and hydrate the soil below many inches. All you have to do is continue to water your sod and avoid walking on it.
Keep the lawn moist at all times, preferably by frequent light sprinklings. The watering process should be repeated three times a day. DURING THE HOTTEST MONTHS OF THE YEAR (80° PLUS) at approximately 8 AM, 11 AM and 2 PM (early, mid- morning and early afternoon), every day. It is important not to let your sod lawn dry out. The key is to KEEP IT MOIST, NOT SOAKED, as too much water can cause fungus to grow.
Learn more about watering your lawn here.
MOWING YOUR LAWN
A new sod lawn should be mowed for the first time between 12-14 days. Turn off your water for 1 to 2 days to firm the soil to allow foot and mower traffic. After your first mowing water ONCE A DAY at 8 AM for the following week. After your second mowing water EVERY OTHER DAY at 3 AM and adjust watering time to meet seasonal conditions. Delaying the first cutting allows for too much shading, blade widening and possible overgrowth. Set your lawn mower to mow 1/3rd of the height of the blade off, lowering a setting each mowing until the lawn is at mowing height. (Fescue sods are cut at 2-2.5” for home use) Never remove more that 1/3 of the grass blade length at any mowing. Two mowing’s in a week are sometimes needed during the first or second mowing to get desired blade height. Lawn mower blades should always be kept sharp to prevent torn grass, which develops unsightly white blade tops.
WATERING YOUR LAWN AFTER THE FIRST 2 WEEKS
Watering is most effective if done during early morning hours, 3 AM, when sunlight and heat cannot cause excessive evaporation. After your lawn becomes established it requires approximately 1 1⁄2 inches of water per week, 1⁄2 inch every other day during the heat of the summer. Spring and fall may only require once or twice a week watering depending on weather conditions. Cut water back during the winter. Sometimes your lawn will only require watering once or twice a month, depending on weather conditions. The soil should be soaked completely when watered. During the active growing season water should penetrate at least 6 inches into the soil to insure deep rooting. Soil types also are a large factor in how long and how often you water your lawn.
FERTILIZING YOUR LAWN
A fertilizing should be applied prior to you laying the sod. (Example: All-purpose fertilizer 15-15-15 or 16-16-16 at a rate of 1lb per 100 sqft) Once established, the lawn will need regular fertilizing. Application of fertilizer should provide the nutrients needed to give the sod a healthy look all year round. This year round fertilizing could possibly be applied every six to eight weeks or longer depending on type of fertilizer, water and soil type. We also recommend using organic fertilizers when mixed with synthetic fertilizers.
Remember when you see a lawn that looks great its because the owner has done a few simple things with consistency: Proper watering, mowing, and fertilizing are the keys to keeping your lawn looking healthy and the weeds to a minimum.
Weeds will appear in you new lawn. They come from seeds which have lain dormant in the ground or which have been carried in by wind or birds. Growing good healthy grass can best control these weeds. Grass that is properly watered, mowed, and well fertilized provides competition for weed plants to gain a stronghold. However, there are chemical remedies that will aid in the weed control of a mature lawn (after 3-4 mowings), Post-emergent for grassy weeds or broadleaf weeds. Some chemicals are temperature sensitive be sure to check your labels. Pre-emergent can be used to keep crabgrass, spurge and approximately 35 other weeds out of your lawn. (First applied at late winter early spring) Should your lawn ever become damaged or have bare spots, reseed or sod immediately to prevent competitive weed growth from becoming established.
LAWN DISEASES and INSECTS
The most common lawn diseases are known as Brown Patch, Dollar Spot, Rust and Fusarium. A lack of water can cause stress on your lawn, which will weaken it and make it more susceptible to disease. Over watering and too frequent watering, are most often the causes of lawn diseases. These can be checked and controlled with fungicides (June thru Aug). Lawn moths, cut worms and grubs are also very common and they are controlled with insecticide granules (May thru Sept).
Winter Care For Your New Sod Lawn
THE FIRST 14 DAYS ARE CRITICAL
Lay the sod down the day that you get it! A light fertilizing should be applied prior to your laying your sod. A "starter" fertilizer would be the best. (low in Nitrogen) If the starter fertilizer can’t be found, then an all purpose fertilizer such as "Triple 15" can be used, just with a lighter application.
Now that the sod is on the ground, turn on your sprinklers and run each system at least 30 min. This watering should soak and hydrate the sod as well as the soil.
For the next 2 weeks, you will have to stay off the sod. Watering is essential. You must keep the sod in an “evenly moist condition”. This can be done by watering an estimated 2 times a day. 9AM and 1PM. How long do you water for? That will have to be up to you. "Lowflow" nozzles will have to be run longer. Nozzles that put out a lot of water will be run a shorter amount of time. Soil type plays a large part in how long your sprinklers need to run and how often. Remember that you must keep the sod moist, NOT SOAKED. Do NOT let the sod dry out. Watch your sod. Standing water can result in overwatering. Too much water will result in problems as well as not enough.
MOWING YOUR LAWN
After the 2 weeks of watering, it is time to mow. Turn the sprinklers off at least 2 days before you mow. Allow the soil to be dry enough to take foot and mower traffic. Do not ever cut more than 1/3 of the height of your grass. Different sod types have different mow heights.
Cut the watering down to only 1 time a day, 9AM. Remember that sod does not grow as rapidly during the cooler months of the year.
REDUCTION OF WATER AFTER ROOT DEVELOPMENT
How much and how often you water will always depend on the weather outside. The higher the temperature the more moisture evaporation. Watering is most efficient if done during the early morning hours. (3AM) is the coolest part of the day and there will be less loss of water due to evaporation.
During the winter months, after the establishment period, watering can be reduced. Watering will also depend on the rainfall that your area is having. Sod does not grow very much during the winter months. Mowing will be at a minimum. A good rule to follow is that you water less often, but longer periods of time. Deep watering is preferred because you want to encourage the roots to go down. Roots will stay where the moisture is. Shallow watering is not recommended.