Congratulations on your newly sodded St. Augustine lawn! If you are like most homeowners, you have entered into the “now what?” stage. You’ve just made a significant investment and want to do everything possible to have your new lawn root down and establish quickly. That attitude is terrific because the manner in which you nurture your new St. Augustine sod during its first six weeks is critical to its future health and appearance. Taking the right action steps in new sod care promises to pay long-term dividends. Learn how to care for new sod below.
Note: If you’ve laid sod in the winter, you shouldn’t start on these steps until it comes out of dormancy.
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Day 1: Installation
This step takes place on the day of installation. As mentioned in our step-by-step sod installation guide, it’s essential that new St. Augustine sod is watered thoroughly. Soak upon installation as water is needed to keep your grass from drying out. The soil should be moist 3–4 inches deep.
Water thoroughly morning and late afternoon. During one of the waterings between day 2 and day 5, apply the remainder of the 1st application of Lawnifi Grow from your New Lawn Starter Box. Make sure you are watering enough to get down into the roots and soil. Most individual sod pieces will dry out along exposed edges or edges that are not tightly placed together. Learn more in When to Water Newly Installed Sod.
Days 6–9: Continue Watering and Spot Check
Continue watering your St. Augustine sod throughout this time frame. However, after watering during days 2–5, you should be able to check for any dry spots that aren’t receiving water. The perimeter of the lawn and the seams between sod pieces are the most likely areas to dry out. If these areas are a light-brown or straw-colored, they need more water. Hand water these areas thoroughly.
Continue to soak twice a day, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. Take rainfall into account and avoid standing water. The goal is to keep soil moist—not saturated. On day 9 after watering, pull up a portion of the sod and see if you can find fresh white roots beginning to attach to your soil. This is to check and see if the sod is establishing properly.
Days 10–12: Fertilize, Check Roots and Reduce Watering
Starting on day 10, you can now reduce watering to once per day. Continue to spot-check the perimeter and seams for dry spots. Pull up a corner of a few pieces. Fresh white roots should be beginning to stick out.
Apply the second bottle of Lawnifi Grow at a full rate. Be sure to look for signs of lawn disease such as irregular circular patterns of disease or fungus, which can result from overwatering. It will look like rotted pieces. If this is present, apply a systemic fungicide like Heritage G.
Days 13–15: Mowing and Further Reduce Watering
This will be the first mow on your newly sodded St. Augustine lawn. Prolific little white roots should be coming out now, and you will have some difficulty pulling up individual pieces of sod. If this isn’t the case, wait a few more days and check again before mowing.
Mow at the highest setting and only cut off the very tops of the leaf blades. If you start mowing and pieces of your new lawn start coming up, you either have your mower set too low, or your St. Augustine has not put down sufficient roots. Stop immediately and wait a few more days. Continue to keep the soil moist, reducing watering to once every other day. To read more, visit out blog on When to Mow Newly Installed Sod.
Days 16–20: Make the Final Fertilizer Application
Continue monitoring for dry spots. Begin transitioning to 1-inch of water per week total. Take rainfall into consideration. Conduct an irrigation audit if you aren’t sure how much water different areas of your lawn are receiving.
Apply the last bottle in your Lawnifi New Lawn Starter Box, Maintain. Maintain was formulated to enhance overall turfgrass growth and hardiness. This bottle of Maintain will provide your lawn with all the nutrition it will need for the next 30 days.
Days 20–30: Home Stretch and Regular Mowing
Continue watering at 1-inch per week total and take rainfall into consideration. Provide a good long soak in the early morning and begin mowing regularly. Cut at the higher end of the recommended height for your St. Augustine cultivar to encourage root growth and avoid scalping. Check out some of the recommended heights for St. Augustine grass below.
Generalized St. Augustine Mowing Height: 2–4 inches
CitraBlue St. Augustine Mowing Height: 2–3 inches
Palmetto St. Augustine Mowing Height: 2–2.5 inches
We have downloadable maintenance guides that specify recommended heights for St. Augustine. We also have these same guides for brand specific St. Augustine grass varieties such as Palmetto®️St. Augustine under the Care section of our website.
Fertilization is important to a new St. Augustine lawn. We recommend the New Lawn Starter Box from Lawnifi®, the best fertilizer for new St. Augustine sod. This fertilizer box consists of a state-of-the-art liquid fertilizer specifically designed to help your lawn establish a sustainable root system. Your new lawn is working hard enough to establish roots.
As a new sod fertilizer, the New Lawn Starter Box provides it with the right amount of phosphorus and other nutrients your grass roots need to establish and thrive. To learn more, read When to Fertilize Newly Installed Sod. The New Lawn Starter Box from Lawnifi contains three bottles of liquid fertilizer. Follow the directions for best results.
How to Water New St. Augustine Sod
As stated above water twice a day for the first nine days after installation—once in the morning and then again in the evening. Starting on day 10, you can reduce your watering schedule to once per day. This can be further reduced to once every other day on day 13 and again on day 16 to 1-inch of water per week.
It’s crucial that the sprinkler heads in each zone are checked to ensure that the entire lawn is getting covered. During each “watering session,” be sure to water for a long enough time to allow it to seep deep into the soil to be available to the root zone. For most irrigation systems, this requires a 20-minute cycle. Take rainfall into consideration and modify your irrigation schedule to save water (and money) and to not overwater your St. Augustine.
Monitor your lawn regularly to make sure that it is not drying out. Check the edges of each piece as well as the overall perimeter of your lawn as these are the most susceptible to drying out. Provide supplemental, targeted hand-watering with a hose—especially throughout the first 14 days. For more information, read When to Water Newly Installed Sod.
How to Mow New St. Augustine Sod
“When can I mow?” is a common question for all new lawn owners. You should mow as soon as your lawn has put down sufficient roots, such that you will have some difficulty pulling up individual pieces of sod. Quality St. Augustine sod laid during the active growing season that has received proper care and nutrition should be able to be mowed between 13–15 days after being laid.
When you mow, be sure to set your mower to the highest setting so that you are only removing the tops of the leaf blades. If you start mowing and pieces of your new lawn start coming up, you either have your mower set too low, or your sod has not put down sufficient roots. Stop immediately and wait a few more days. To read more, visit When to Mow Newly Installed Sod.
Congratulations and we wish you great success on your new lawn! If you’re still conducting research OR you’ve finished establishing your new sod, check out the two articles below and don’t forget to subscribe to Sod University, our free educational newsletter we send out on lawn and garden.