Tips for Caring for Your Newly Installed Sod
Second through fifth day watering
It's very important to check your lawn at least once per day during the week after installation to ensure that there is adequate moisture for the turf to flourish. During hot and/or windy weather, you may need to check for moisture more than once per day. Walk on the new lawn to inspect it. If you observe water puddles or soil that is so soft that you leave footprints, it is too wet. However, if you walk across your lawn to inspect it and find that the soil is very firm, lift a comer of the grass in several places. The soil should be damp-- not dripping wet or dusty dry.
After about five days, it is time to start reducing your watering habits. If you do not reduce the amount of water applied to your lawn, you risk drowning the sod or preventing proper root development. Grass plants will not grow in waterlogged soils! Now is the time to begin stretching out the amount of time between waterings. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, you will need to reset the timer. Follow this philosophy: deep, infrequent watering. Watch the color of the sod for watering: green is good, blue-green indicates not enough water, and yellow-tan means the sod is heat/moisture stressed and will go dormant.
Signs of under watering
Areas where the grass has wilted, or turned a straw color, have not received enough water. Seeing green grass turn brown almost overnight will get your attention! This is the most obvious symptom of under-watering. The roots and crowns of the grass plant are still alive, and in most cases, new leaves will appear in seven to ten days, if immediate action is taken. Another indication of under-watering is cracks that appear between the rows of sod. Both of these signs of under-watering that can be corrected by watering longer than you have been currently, with more water. Temperatures above 80° generally mean more water is needed, while temperatures below 60° mean less water is needed. In the cooler months of March, April, October and November, sod needs much less water.
Your new living carpet needs mowing 6-7 days after installation. The basic mowing rule is never removing more than 1/3 of the leaf blade during a single mowing. Mow when grass height reaches 3"-3 1/2". Set your mower at a cutting height of 2"-2 1/2". For best appearance, be sure to keep your mower blades sharp.
How soon can I use the sod?
For best establishment, the sod needs time to properly root to the new soil. Early watering often makes the soil underneath the sod soft, and susceptible to ruts. Making deep footprints when the soil is soft won't hurt the sod, but will make for an uneven lawn in the future. Therefore, use your new lawn sparingly until good root establishment has taken place, usually 2-3 weeks. Avoid concentrated play activities, dog traffic or similar rough usage until four weeks have passed. There are no restrictions on visually enjoying your lawn.
Your new sod does not need any type of weed killers. Should a dandelion or other small weed pop up, pull it out, making sure that you pulled out the root as well. Pulling out roots will ensure that weeds will not return.
Your new lawn does not need any fertilizer for at least two weeks. During this time, you can weigh your options and decide if you plan on fertilizing the yard yourself or hiring a professional service to do it for you. If you plan on fertilizing your sod yourself, go to your favorite garden center and let them help you set up a fertilization schedule.