Watering new sod is an essential step in the process of establishing your lawn. There are a few things you should know before getting started. This article will walk you through each stage to ensure that your new sod has the best start possible!
The establishment of your new sod lawn is easy but requires the right amount of water and an optimal watering schedule.
Sod should be laid on your soil the very day it arrives.
If temperatures are above 95° install the sod as quickly as possible and water uniformly over the entire area.
Put down a lot of water on your first watering. The water should be 3-4 inches deep after the first irrigation.
The first watering needs to be a lot because the ground is dry when we first apply the water. The ground needs the first heavy application of water to saturate the soil. Once the soil is saturated underneath, it then takes frequent lesser waterings to keep the soil/sod moist.
Do not allow the sod to dry out. Most issues we see in the first 14 days are due to the fresh sod not getting enough moisture to keep the sod alive!
Water your sod uniformly with an irrigation system for the best results. Sprinklers give the most even and efficient watering compared to hand watering with a hose.
Remember, after the first watering, the key is to keep it moist, not soaked. Too much water can cause fungus and other diseases.
Before laying your sod, you should have done some basic things to prepare your ground.
For the installers, whether yourself or paid professional, all sprinkler heads will need to be flagged with paint, or irrigation flags, or wooden stakes.
If your lawn area is not bordered with a mow curb or other type of physical barrier (e.g. a sidewalk), use ground paint to mark the area where you want the sod to be cut. This will give the installers a line to trim and shape the sod.
We highly recommend installing a starter fertilizer on the ground before you install the turfgrass sod. This gives the sod extra nutrients to help it develop a new root system.
As soon as you have laid your new lawn, water it heavily! That first watering should be 30 – 80 minutes depending on the following factors:
Also, your sprinkler uniformity will be key to giving even coverage.
If you have a large amount of sod that you will be laying all in one day, we recommend that you start watering your lawn in large sections. This way, by the end of the day, your first few rolls have not dried out.
This is especially helpful when it is really hot outside. If you have time left in the day after laying the sod you will need to water once or twice again the first day.
You will be watering your installed sod/new roots, 2-4 times per day to keep the lawn moist. Our recommended watering start times are between 7 am – 2 pm evenly spaced to start.
The amount and frequency of watering per day will depend on your sprinklers and soil type. We are not flooding it, we just want to keep it evenly moist. It is possible to over-water the sod. This can cause root rot or fungus to occur.
After 12-13 days, shut off your water for 1-2 days. You want your soil to dry out a little so that you can walk on it. We do not want you to sink into the ground.
Once the ground can be walked on, mow your new lawn for the first time.
Always let your lawn dry out enough to walk and mow on. If possible, we recommend mowing your lawn with a mower that will bag or catch the grass clippings.
If you don’t bag your grass clipping, you could leave a lot of grass clippings on the lawn, and when those grass clippings get wet with the once-a-day watering they can clump together and smother the grass below.
Each sod variety will have a different mowing height, so check to see what height to mow the grass blades for the type of grass you ordered. If you purchased sod from us, you can find the maintenance height on the product page of the sod you purchased.
Initially, it may be necessary to mow twice if the grass is too high. If this is the case, mow it twice in one day.
Water once a day after the first mowing for the next week.
Watering is the most effective if done during the early morning hours. 2 am to 4 am start times are great when sunlight and heat cannot cause excessive evaporation.
After your lawn becomes established, it generally requires about 1.5 inches of water per week during the heat of the summer. Be sure to check the water needs of your sod type.
Spring, winter, and fall will require less watering depending on weather conditions.
Cut watering back during the winter. Sometimes your lawn will only require watering once or twice a month, depending on rainfall and evaporation.
Water should penetrate up to 4-6 inches into the soil to ensure deep rooting. If your lawn needs water it will turn from bright green to blue or gray-green.
After mowing the 3rd time, you may now start watering your lawn every other day or less, depending on the weather. Unless you have a really sandy soil condition, you most likely will only need to water 3-4 days per week in the summer months.
The key to having a happy lawn, second to good ground preparation, is regular and consistent watering, mowing, and fertilizing! These three items will give your root establishment the best chance to provide a healthy and happy lawn for years to come.
Watering and mowing are ever-changing with your local weather patterns. The above guidelines are for warmer summer months. Make routine adjustments as needed for your specific climate and time of year.
For ongoing care, you may want to consider using some technology to help you maintain your lawn’s health. Soil moisture sensors can be particularly helpful for perfecting your lawn’s watering schedule through different seasons.
You can learn more about laying and caring for your sod during different seasons here: