For homeowners, there are few projects that make more of an impact than fresh, new sod. Afterall, who doesn’t want to highlight their home with a gorgeous, lush lawn? Choosing, installing and caring for new sod isn’t fool-proof though, and comes with many questions. Today, we are addressing some of the most commonly asked questions that homeowners have about new lawns.
1. How do I install a new lawn?
We like to lay out seven steps when it comes to a successful new lawn installation:
1. Testing the soil,
2. Choosing the grass,
3. Measuring the area you want to install new sod in,
4. Removing old grass,
5. Preparing the soil for installation and leveling,
6. Laying the new sod,
7. Watering and fertilizing the new sod.
Though some choose to let a professional handle most of these steps, it’s a good idea for homeowners to have an idea of the installation process themselves to ensure everything is done correctly and in order.
2. How much does a new lawn cost?
There are a couple of different factors that play into pricing for a new lawn. Costs depend on who you’re buying from, the type of grass you’re installing, the size of the pallet and where you live.
Like any other product, grass varieties are not created equal. More expensive varieties often have elevated features while cheaper options may not (think drought and shade tolerance, wear resistance, green-up ability, etc.). You get what you pay for.
Location also plays a role. Sod needs to be trucked to your home, so your proximity to a farm provider also impacts the cost.
Grass is often quoted to homeowners by the pallet, so understanding pallet sizing is the key to the ordering process. Learn more about this in How Many Square Feet are on a Pallet of Sod?.
3. What is the best sod to use on a new lawn?
Believe it or not, there’s actually A LOT that goes into selecting the perfect grass for your landscape. First and foremost, you should understand the difference between warm and cool season sod and which varieties grow near you. Certain grass types only perform so well in specific locations.
For example, Kentucky bluegrass, a cool season grass type, won’t perform well in Florida. It’s also probably not sold anywhere near you for this exact reason. Find out if you live in a warm season zone, cool season zone or a mix of the two—the transition zone—here.
Here are some other things to consider when selecting a grass type for your lawn:
- Your lawn’s current condition – this includes shade, the type of soil you have or if you have children or pets. Thinking about a grass type that tolerates your lawn’s conditions can play a huge factor in the overall success of your lawn.
- The type of “look” you prefer – do you want a grass with really wide blades or finer blades? What shade of green are you looking for when the lawn is at its healthiest state?
- Maintenance – as previously mentioned, the amount of maintenance your grass requires is a huge deal. If you’re looking for something that requires less mowing, consider looking for a grass that grows slowly or spreads laterally, like CitraBlue® St. Augustine. If you want to spend less money on your irrigation bill, select a drought tolerant lawn.
4. What is the best grass seed to use on a new lawn?
There are a few items to consider when choosing a grass seed for your lawn, but the two most important are probably your home’s location and the features you desire in a lawn.
There are warm season and cool season grasses, so depending on where your home falls on the map, it’s important to pick a variety appropriate for your home’s climate.
Secondly, you’ll want to prioritize the features you desire the most in a grass. For example, is a low maintenance yard more important than the look and feel of the grass? Centipede lawns are called “the lazy man’s grass” for a reason—you don’t have to do much to keep it alive.
Overall, there are many varieties that don’t make you pick and choose! Check out some of our favorites below.
5. Should I install sod myself or use a professional?
Installing sod yourself is the less expensive way to go, but a professional will ensure the sod is installed correctly—after all, it’s their job to! With that being said, this decision largely depends on personal preference.
If you have the help of friends and family, installing sod yourself can be painless. If you’re installing the sod alone and you’re covering a large area, a professional might be a better option.
Regardless, we think it’s best to always know how to install sod properly, even if you’ve hired a professional company. That way, you’ll at least be able to recognize if the process is being done correctly. Learn more about installation here or read our tips on how to choose a sod installation company.
6. How do I plant a new sod over older grass?
In short—you don’t! If there is old grass in the way of your fresh sod, it is essential to the health of the new sod that you properly remove it before laying the new sod. Otherwise, the new sod won’t have a place to establish roots and it’ll eventually die.
To remove sod the right way, you’ll need to kill it chemically with glyphosate or some other non-selective herbicide and then cut away the remains with either sod cutters or a shovel. It’s important to take this step at least 10–14 days before installation takes place. This gives the grass enough time to die so you can remove it beforehand.
7. How do I remove old sod?
There are two main ways to remove old sod before installing a new lawn: 1) use sod cutters or 2) use a shovel. With either option, you’ll need to apply glyphosate or some other non-selective herbicide to kill the old grass. This makes it significantly easier to remove the sod as the roots are dead and your lawn is no longer gripping the soil as much. Be cautious when using a non-selective herbicide though—it will kill all vegetation it comes in contact with. This includes nearby flowers, vegetables or plants if it accidentally gets on them.
Sod cutters may seem intimidating…especially if you’ve never used this tool before. The good news is, they’re fairly easy to operate and you can rent them from a local hardware store for a fair price.
Although there’s always the option to use a shovel, this typically involved labor-intensive, back-breaking work. It may be the better option if you’re removing a very small area of sod, but if you’re completely redoing an entire yard, sod cutters are the better way to go.
Learn more about sod cutters here.
8. When is the best time to lay sod?
Sod can be successfully installed any time of the year but the best time to lay sod is actually early to mid-fall. This varies slightly depending on where you live. Early fall allows for time for the sod to establish before the hot and often dry summer. You can also install sod in the spring, summer and winter seasons. Learn more in When is the Best Time to Lay Sod?.
9. When is the best time to plant grass seed?
The best time to plant grass seed depends on if you’re planting cool season or warm season grass seed. Generally speaking, you can plant grass seed any time of the year, but fall is the best time to seed a lawn with a cool season turfgrass variety. Spring is the best time to plant warm season turfgrass seed.
10. When is the best time to install grass plugs?
Similar to grass seed, the best time to plant grass plugs largely depends on where you live and the climate you live in. Spring is the best time to install grass plugs because temperatures aren’t exceedingly high yet.
Summer is the worst time because of the amount of water you’ll need to use to help the plugs establish during the hottest time of the year. Overwatering can also lead to disease outbreaks, which is the last thing your newly establishing plugs need to endure as they grow in.
Learn more in When is the Best Time to Plant Grass Plugs?.
11. What fertilizer should I use on new sod?
Your best bet for nourishing your lawn with everything it needs doesn’t have to be difficult. Any fertilizer heavy in nitrogen is usually the wrong answer. Your lawn needs phosphorus more than anything as this nutrient promotes root growth while the new sod establishes in its permanent location. If you know how to read a fertilizer label, you’ll have an easier time selecting a fertilizer with a good amount of phosphorus.
Lawnifi’s® New Lawn Starter Box is the perfect way to give your fresh sod a head start. The kit contains two liquid bottles of Grow and one liquid bottle of Maintain, our easy-to-use, proprietary formulas. Follow the simple instructions and watch your sod thrive.
Learn more about Lawnifi in Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer?.
12. When do I apply fertilizer on new sod?
Lawnifi’s New Lawn Starter Box should be applied immediately after installation, again at the two-week mark and then again at the four-week mark. After these applications, continue with monthly fertilization during growing seasons with our Spring, Summer and Fall Fertilizer Boxes. Learn more in When to Fertilize Newly Installed Sod.
13. When do I mow new sod?
About two weeks after installation, lightly tug on the sod to see whether roots have begun to establish. If little white roots have begun to take, it’s time for the first mow! If not, wait a few more days and check again. Read more in When to Mow Newly Installed Sod.
14. What height should my new lawn be mowed at?
As mentioned in our establishment guide, it’s best to mow at the highest setting your mower offers during the first mow. Once the first 30 days after installation have passed, begin mowing at your grass type’s ideal height. Find your grass type’s ideal height in our Homeowner Maintenance Guides located here.
15. When do I water newly laid sod?
Most lawn care experts recommend that you water your new sod on the first day of installation as this will keep your sod from drying out around the edges. There are a lot of exposed edges along the pieces of your sod that dry out fairly easily, so watering more frequently and thoroughly during establishment is suggested. Follow our new lawn watering guide for more information.
16. How do I take care of a new lawn?
Now that the installation process is over, you’re probably thinking, “now what?”. You’ve just spent a lot of time, money and energy installing a new lawn, so taking proper care of it is a high priority. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on what helps and hurts your lawn during this phase.
Proper fertilization, mowing and irrigation are important. However, you’ll also be spot-checking, keeping a status on root development, making sure the separate pieces of sod begin to connect together and more! Don’t get overwhelmed just yet—our establishment guide offers a day-by-day guide for the next 30 days.
The first 30 days after installation are the most critical for successful establishment. After the first 30 days have passed, you can begin transitioning your lawn to a regular maintenance schedule with our Homeowner Maintenance Guides.
Want to read more? Check out How to Get Your Newly Sodded Lawn Off to a Healthy Start.
17. How do I take care of a new zoysia lawn?
Although zoysia grass is a specific grass type, it’s not all that different from other types of sod. It too will require proper fertilization, mowing and irrigation. It’s important to keep an eye on your zoysia lawn as it establishes to make sure it establishes well. Learn more in How to Get Your Newly Installed Zoysia Lawn Off to a Healthy Start.
Once the first 30 days after installation has passed, refer to our Zoysia Homeowner Maintenance Guide.
18. How do I take care of a new St. Augustine lawn?
Congratulations on your new St. Augustine lawn! The next steps after installation consist of keeping a close eye on it while it establishes. Be sure to properly fertilize, water and mow it during this time. Learn more in How to Get Your Newly Sodded St. Augustine Off to a Healthy Start.
Once the first 30 days after installation has passed, refer to our St. Augustine Homeowner Maintenance Guide.
19. How do I take care of a new bermuda grass lawn?
Now that you’ve installed your new, beautiful bermuda grass lawn, it’s important to take the best care of it. Be sure to water, fertilize and mow it properly at this time. Read up on bermuda grass establishment tips here.
Once the first 30 days after installation has passed, transition your bermuda grass to a normal maintenance schedule with our Bermuda Grass Homeowner Maintenance Guides.
20. When can I apply weed control products on my new lawn?
First and most importantly, you should know that your newly laid sod is vulnerable to stressors it will not be able to defend itself against. This includes diseases, insect damage and weeds. Applying weed control to your new sod isn’t recommended. If possible, hand remove the weeds until you’ve mowed your lawn at least 3–4 times. The first mow shouldn’t take place until at least two weeks after installation day have passed.
Once this time has passed, use a high quality, selective post-emergent herbicide to spot-treat weeds. This means you will be making applications directly onto that weed—not across the entire yard. In order to spot-treat, you will need a liquid herbicide you can mix in a spray tank and apply with a nozzle so that you have more control over the stream.
A selective herbicide should be labeled to treat weeds without damaging your grass type when applied properly. Non-selectives, on the other hand, will kill any vegetation it comes in contact with. This includes your new sod—so stay away from these. Lastly, a post-emergent is an herbicide that controls currently existing weeds as opposed to a pre-emergent that prevents weeds before they appear. Learn more here.
Read and follow product labels thoroughly.
21. When can I apply disease control products on my new lawn?
Although chemicals on your new lawn aren’t encouraged, a disease outbreak needs to be controlled. First, be sure the discoloration you’re seeing is actually disease damage and not drought damage. Distinguish between the two here.
Next, cut back on your watering in that specific area and other nearby locations. If it’s been a few weeks since you installed your lawn, you can begin to cut back on the watering for the entire lawn.
Then select a contact fungicide to spot treat the disease-affected area. As its name suggests, a topical fungicide works upon “contact” with the leaf blade. A simple, hose-end spray application can be used to spray the affected and surrounding areas of your lawn.
Treat the affected areas every two weeks until the fungus stops spreading. A suggested product is a liquid topical fungicide that hooks right up the end of your garden hose: Spectracide Immunox Fungus + Insect Control.
Lastly, apply a systemic fungicide to the entire lawn. If you see fungus in sections of your lawn, you need to be aggressive in treating both the specific areas of outbreak as well as your entire lawn to prevent further spread of the fungus. A systemic fungicide works by absorbing into the plant and circulating throughout the plant’s “system” to provide residual protection against fungus. Apply the systemic fungicide to your entire lawn (including the areas also treated with the topical, hose end sprayer). A suggested product is Heritage G Granular Fungicide.
Read and follow product labels thoroughly.
22. When can I apply insect control products on my new lawn?
If you’ve had a problem with insects before or insects destroyed your last lawn (which is why you’re installing a new one), it’s a good idea to apply an insect control product both on the old sod that’s being removed and again on the soil once the old sod has been removed completely.
Generally speaking, once sod is installed, it’s best to wait 3–4 weeks before applying chemicals found in insect control products. Your new sod is vulnerable to external stressors and chemicals will stress it out even more.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to receive sod that’s infested with insects like sod webworms from the farm. If this is the case, apply an insect control product immediately and follow label instructions. With any insect, be sure to properly identify it first so that you can apply a product that’s effective in treating that type of insect.
Read and follow product labels thoroughly.
23. How do I care for new sod planted in shade?
As previously mentioned, it’s important to select a shade tolerant turfgrass variety if you’re installing sod in shady locations. Some of the top shade tolerant turfgrasses include red fescue, tall fescue, St. Augustine and fine-bladed zoysia grasses. Breeders are constantly improving new turfgrass varieties, so there may be exceptions to the above list of shade tolerant grasses.
Generally speaking though, we suggest the following:
With any shade tolerant variety, be sure to budget for several applications of systemic fungicide per year. Additionally, note that to avoid disease it is best to water less in shaded areas compared to areas that receive full sun. Read more here.
The above questions are the most commonly asked questions our team of turfgrass experts receive. If you have other questions, feel free to reach out to our customer service team by contacting us.