With a newly installed lawn comes post-installation care while it grows and becomes established to your yard. Appropriate maintenance practices during the first 30 days after installation are crucial to successful establishment. Some of these maintenance practices include proper fertilization, mowing and watering. Although you will continue to feed, mow and water your lawn after it has established, the maintenance schedule that takes place during the first 30 days of establishment slightly differs. You can read more about new sod maintenance in our establishment guide. This particular Sod University blog discusses when to water newly installed sod.
When should I water my new sod?
Most lawn care experts recommend that you water your new sod on the first day of installation. Sod University agrees with this statement as water is needed to keep your grass from drying out. 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.
New Sod Watering Schedule
It is recommended that you soak your new sod upon the first day of installation as water is needed to keep your grass from drying out. The soil should be moist three to four inches deep. When you are watering your new sod, it is suggested that you use the first bottle from your Lawnifi® New Lawn Starter Box, Grow, at 1/2 rate on your installed sod. Overwatering for an extended period of time, however, can severely damage the grass and encourage disease or rotting roots.
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You will want to water your new turf thoroughly in both the early morning and late afternoon. Apply the remainder of your Lawnifi Grow sometime between these next few days. Make sure you are watering thoroughly enough to get down into the roots and soil. Most individual sod pieces will dry out along their exposed edges or along edges that aren’t tightly placed together with other pieces of sod.
Continue to water your sod throughout these next couple of days. After watering during the first few days after installation, 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. Hand water these areas thoroughly if you are seeing dried out spots. Continue to soak once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. You will still want to 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.
Pictured above: Pieces of sod drying out along the edges due to insufficient watering.
Now that you have reached the 10th day after installation, you can begin reducing your watering schedule to once a day. You will still need to spot check the perimeter and seams for dry spots, however. This is also the period of time when you can make an application of the second bottle of the Lawnifi New Lawn Starter Box. Apply the second bottle, another bottle of Grow, at 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.
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Pictured above: Disease taking over a piece of establishing sod.
This range of days is when your first mow should take place. Read more about this in When to Mow Newly Installed Sod. Continue to keep the soil moist and keep your watering schedule at once a day.
Continue to monitor for dry spots in your newly installed sod and begin transitioning to watering your lawn with one inch of water per week. If you aren’t sure how much water your lawn is receiving, read our Irrigation Audit blog. Go ahead and make an application of the third bottle in your New Lawn Starter Box, Maintain, as well. This bottle of Maintain will provide your lawn with all the nutrition it will need for the next 30 days.
Continue watering at one inch per week total by providing a good, long soak in the early morning. Take rainfall into consideration.
When can I begin to transition my lawn to a regular watering schedule?
After the first 30 days of establishment are up, your lawn has properly established itself. The next step is to perform proper maintenance practices to ensure long term success of your lawn. Be sure to refer to our Homeowner Maintenance Guides for bermuda grass, bluegrass, centipede grass, fescue, St. Augustine and zoysia. Each of the guides lay out maintenance tips for spring, summer and fall.
Why is the schedule for watering for new sod different than a regular watering schedule?
Newly laid sod has really shallow roots right now because it doesn’t have soil to grow into. Now that you have installed your sod, it can begin growing into the soil beneath it. In order for it to do this, you will need to water your sod more frequently until it establishes. Once it is established, roots can grow down several inches (or even several feet) into your soil. Depending on the soil type you have, you won’t need to water as often. For example, a sandy soil usually needs more water whereas a loamy or clay type of soil will need less water. You can read more about this in our Soil Management for Lawns and Gardens blog. New sod roots are barely an inch long upon installation, so they need more water to become more robust. As they grow, the need to water decreases.
To read more about new sod care, check out our Establishing a Newly Installed Lawn page or read our Sod University blog on How to Get Your Newly Sodded Lawn Off to a Healthy Start.