New sod care is a popular topic of discussion amongst homeowners looking to take the best care of their new lawn after installation. Maintenance practices on new lawns like mowing, watering and fertilization all differ from regular maintenance practices on an already established lawn. As a homeowner, your job is to eliminate as much stress for your lawn as possible while your lawn tries to establish itself in your yard. With that being said, mowing at a proper height and at the right time can make a big difference in the overall success of establishment.
When can I mow my new sod?
If you follow along our establishment guide, the first day of mowing should take place 13–15 days after installation, which is generally about two weeks later. Before mowing, check on the progress your lawn has made with establishing by lightly tugging at the sod. Your sod SHOULD have begun producing little white roots that keep it from being pulled up from the ground easily. This is how you know it is the right time to begin mowing. If your sod still comes up from the ground too easily, consider waiting another few days before mowing.
Some guides may say to wait on your first mow until five weeks are up, but this is because you don’t want to risk mowing the sod too closely to the root. However, this will not be a risk you will encounter if you set your mower at the highest setting and only cut the tops of the leaf blades. If you start mowing and the 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 as previously mentioned. Stop immediately and wait a few more days.
How do I mow my new sod?
Begin with setting your mower to the highest setting or the setting that is necessary to remove the top of the leaf blades. Mowing at a high setting encourages lateral growth, which in time will lead to the individual pieces of sod knitting together to become one seamless surface.
Pictured above: A lawn mower set on the highest setting.
Why is mowing new sod different from mowing established sod?
The idea behind mowing newly installed sod is to promote lateral growth, as previously mentioned. The more lateral growth you have, the quicker your sod pieces will begin to form a seamless connection with other sod pieces. During the two weeks beforehand, your roots will grow and become strong in the ground. This helps with faster establishment.
If you wait too long to mow, you may be forced to remove more than 1/3 of the lead blade, which will cause unnecessary stress on your newly establishing lawn. Cutting more than 1/3 of the leaf blade also leaves less room in the leaf’s surface for photosynthesis. Many homeowners are nervous to mow after only a few weeks from the day of installation. However, your main priority should be to minimize as much stress as possible for your newly establishing lawn.
How do I make sure my new lawn puts down roots before mowing?
Mowing your new lawn at the right height and at the right time will make a huge difference in the overall success of your new lawn’s establishment. It is just as important that you correctly feed your lawn with the nutrients it needs to get established. Fertilizing your new sod with the right nutrients will make sure your lawn promotes healthy root growth. This is usually accomplished with readily available phosphorus, along with the help of other nutrients in smaller amounts like potassium and carbon.
Sod University recommends the Lawnifi® New Lawn Starter Box, a liquid fertilizer program designed for newly installed sod. Lawnifi’s New Lawn Starter Box is the best fertilizer for new sod and contains the perfect amount of nutrients for your newly establishing lawn’s needs. Lawnifi is powered by Catalyst TechnologyTM, which nano-sizes the nutrients to make them more efficient and readily available. Learn more in our When to Fertilize Newly Installed Sod blog.
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. Be sure to also refer to our Homeowner Maintenance Guides for bermudagrass, bluegrass, centipedegrass, fescue, St. Augustine and zoysia after the first 30 days are up. Each of the guides lay out maintenance tips for spring, summer and fall.