Keeping a lush, green lawn isn’t a matter of luck; it requires understanding the basics of how to care for your sod, and in this article, we’ll guide you through comprehensive steps to help your newly laid sod flourish. As the literal groundwork for your outdoor space, sod needs proper care to ensure that your lawn thrives, provides aesthetic value, and remains a space for relaxation and enjoyment for years to come.
During the first seven to ten days, the sod should be kept moist at all times. In the absence of adequate rainfall, watering should be performed daily or as often as necessary during the first week and in sufficient quantities to maintain moist soil to a depth of at least four inches. It takes a lot of water to penetrate the sod and the soil below it. Let the sprinklers run at least an hour in a spot except on steep slopes. Generally each spot will need a thorough soaking every other day unless it is very hot then every day. Watering should be done either in the early morning or in the mid to late afternoon to reduce evaporation. In the second and subsequent weeks, water the sod as required to maintain adequate moisture in the upper four inches of soil, necessary for the promotion of deep root growth. This will need to be done for a minimum of three or four weeks, depending on weather conditions.
The edges of the lawn and the parts along the walks and the house are most likely to dry first, so make sure to water heavily and frequently in these areas. Steeply sloped lawn areas may see the sod slip if watered too heavily. In these areas, water more frequently, but not as heavily. Your grass will always let you know if it is not getting enough water. If the sod begins to shrink and the seams open, it is drying out. If the grass looks gray and doesn’t spring back when you walk on it, it is wilted and needs water.
After you soak the lawn the first time it will be very soft. Do not walk on it. You will poke big holes in the lawn. Set your sprinklers so you can pull them to the next spot with the hose without walking on the grass. Avoid using the lawn area for at least two weeks or until it is firm enough to prevent foot steps.
The first mowing should not be attempted until the sod is firmly rooted and securely in place. Use extra care with the first mowing and make certain that cutting blades are maintained in sharp condition. Additionally, a light-weight mower is highly recommended while the lawn is establishing it’s root system. No more than 30% of the grass leaf should be removed by the initial or subsequent mowings. Initially this may require every other day cuttings, reducing each cut in ½” increments until the desired maintained height of 2 ½” – 3” is achieved. Cutting the grass shorter than 2 ½” will sacrifice root penetration down into the soil. The root system accommodates the height of the leaf blade so that the higher the height the deeper the root, resulting in a thicker, healthier lawn. Longer cutting height also gives the added advantages of conserving soil moisture due to increased shading and less area for weeds to penetrate.
Once the sod is fully established, a yearly fertilizer/weed control maintenance program should be set up to maintain a healthy, vital turf grass stand. We recommend a five-step program with applications in early spring, late spring, summer, early fall and late fall. For best results, it is important to use products specifically designed for their respective times of year, applied at the recommended rates.
Core aeration is recommended for sodded lawns to break up the thatch layer, enhance water penetration into the soil, reduce soil compaction, and improve air exchange into the soil, however it is important to not aerate until the root system is established in the soil. 6-12 months is a good time to wait before aerating your lawn. Optimum aeration times are during spring (March through May) and fall (August through November).
By attentively monitoring watering practices, promptly addressing pests or diseases, and conducting regular maintenance like mowing and fertilizing, you can ensure the health and longevity of your sod. These methods are not just practical steps, but an investment in the aesthetic value and enjoyment of your property, promising a rewarding return in the form of a beautiful, verdant lawn. If you need assistance with your lawn care maintenance, contact us today to discuss your options.