Sod Maintenance

Your new lawn should be a long term investment.  Grass is a very resilient plant but for your new lawn to remain healthy and beautiful, proper maintenance is required.  You will find that adhering to a consistent maintenance schedule will cost much less in time, energy , money,  natural resources and aggravation than trying to remedy neglect-related problems.

Maintenance for new sod

Pre-Installation Care:

SOIL PREPARATION:
When preparing your site for sod it is always best to install sod on a smooth firm bed of top soil, ideally 2” to 6” deep.  Every site is different and soil quality can vary greatly in this area, even from your yard to your next door neighbor’s yard.  If you are unsure as to the quality of your soil you may want to consider doing a soil test.  Most turf grasses prefer the soil to be neutral (7.0) to slightly acidic (6.0).  If your soil test results show the soil to be in this range you will likely only have to till and level before installing your turf.  If the results fall outside this range you may need to spread topsoil and/or amendments, such as; peat moss, compost, lime, fertilizers etc. An ideal seed or sod bed has few stones, roots, and vegetation on the ground that may prohibit root penetration, or the sod to lay flat on the ground.  Any stone that forces the sod to “tent” needs to be removed and laying sod on existing grass or weeds is also not recommended.  Remember when grading the lawn, to provide a slope away from any building foundation and to fill any low spots with topsoil.

New Sod Maintenance

Post Installation Care:

WATERING BASICS:
The most critical aspect in establishing turf in a new environment is “WATERING.”   Keep these tips in mind when watering:

  • Water immediately as the sod goes down, and as much as possible for the first 24 hours after the sod is installed.
  • Keep the sod “squishy” wet for the first two weeks after installation.
  • Do not allow the sod to dry out at any time during the first two weeks.
  • Watering in the morning is always best, 2nd best is afternoon, 3rd best is early evening.
  • Additional water may be needed during hot, dry, or windy weather.
  • Newly installed sod requires 1”-2” of water immediately upon installation, and then daily watering to maintain the “squishy” wet saturation. Depending on weather conditions, you may need to water multiple times a day.
  • Deep, thorough watering promotes vigorous root growth (this is what you want)
  • Frequent, shallow watering promotes shallow root growth (this is what you don’t want)
  • Regular watering should be continued even after the sod has rooted

Even after your sod has rooted you will want to continue watering your sod regularly.  Ideally 1” of water per week (all at once in a deep watering) is optimal, but water any time the grass shows signs of wilting. Watering to a depth of 6” promotes root growth and it stimulates the sod to become more self sustaining.  The best time of day to water is in the early morning hours because less water is lost to evaporation and the grass blades are more apt to dry. Try to avoid watering in the evening as this may promote fungus and disease.  Remember that despite the beautiful, healthy, established appearance of your new lawn upon installation it is not ready for heavy foot traffic at the time of installation.  Try to limit use for at least two weeks after the installation.

New Sod Maintenance Schedule

Signs that watering is needed immediately include: 

  • Grass blades are wilting
  • Grass has Bluish or Grey color tinge
  • Footprints remain visible in the grass

Mowing Basics:

  • You may begin mowing your new lawn at a minimum of one week after installation
  • Maximum mowing wait time after installation is two weeks
  • Make a conscious effort to mow gently the first 2-3 times you mow after the initial sod installation
  • Don’t use a zero turn or riding mower the first 3-4 times you mow, they are too heavy and, unless extreme care is used, the self propelled wheels may damage or slow the growth of the establishing turf.
  • For best results with our turf blend, mow between 2” – 3.5”( try to keep the turf in this length range)   Remember the shorter you mow the “tighter” and thicker appearance, but will require more frequent mowing and possible watering.
  • Never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade per any one cutting
  • Sharpen mower blades regularly

Feeding Basics:

  • Feed at least 4 times a year
  • Always follow manufactures recommendations for fertilizers
  • It is recommended that most fertilizers are to be applied on dry grass only (check label for this information)
  • Water fertilizer in after each feeding

If you’re still looking for more information, the Virginia Tech Department of Agriculture has a wealth of information available on their Public Resources page.