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New Sod 101: How Often to Water Sod After Installation?

December 15, 2020

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If you’re considering adding new sod or turf to your property, it’s vital you consider how often to water sod after installation. Fresh sod is somewhat delicate and, like any plant or vegetation, needs specific care to thrive. Too much or too little water can result in wilted grass that struggles to grow, muddy soil, and an outright ruined lawn! For other tips about sod installation and improving home aesthetic, turn to your local landscaping professionals.

A property owner should water sod after installation frequently, even 3 to 5 times per day, so that the soil never dries out. Once the sod has taken firm root, usually after three to four weeks, you can reduce your watering schedule; however, it’s vital you exercise caution when mowing or even walking on sod during this time.

sod installation in Denver being completed

New sod is often a costly investment for a property owner but one that easily improves the appearance of a worn and withered lawn, filling in bare spots and replacing withered grass struggling to grow. Sod also creates a welcoming look outside a new property quickly, without having to wait for seed to take root and sprout.

To protect your investment and ensure that new sod stays lush and green, consider some vital tips on caring for sod after installation, and for a new lawn once that sod takes root. You can also discuss questions you might have about sod with a landscaping company near you, and employ their services as needed so that your lawn and landscaping features always look healthy and lush!

How Often Should You Water Freshly Laid Sod?

It’s vital that your property’s soil stays moist the first few weeks after new sod installation, to provide it with needed hydration while also keeping dirt soft enough for new roots to take hold! How often to water sod after installation will depend on your property’s soil conditions; dry, arid soil will require more watering than moist soil in a tropical area, as an example. To ensure your new sod takes root easily and grows quickly, consider a few vital tips:

Immediately After Install

  • Immediately after sod installation, water the soil so that it’s wet through a depth of at least four to six inches.
  • Once the soil is wet thoroughly, water it anywhere from 3 to 5 times per day, or as needed to ensure it stays wet and doesn’t dry out.
  • Water during early morning or evening hours, to avoid harsh sunlight drying out the soil. It’s even helpful to water at night, so that the soil can absorb water completely.
  • Soil should feel soft and spongy underfoot during these first few weeks but not develop puddles or experience runoff. If you notice puddles or see that water is running off the lawn, reduce watering as needed.

Two Weeks After Sod Install

  • At the end of the second week, it’s probably safe to mow your new sod, but it’s vital that you allow the grass and soil to dry out somewhat before cutting, to ensure a safe, clean cut.
  • New grass blades should remain somewhat long, to ensure it takes root completely and to protect soil from drying out. Set your mower to at least three inches tall for the first cut and don’t cut more than one-third the length of your new sod.

Three Weeks After Your Sod Installation

  • During your third week, reduce watering to every other day and water just two or three times per day; note if the soil stays moist and monitor the sod’s overall condition as you adjust your watering schedule.

Four Weeks After Install

  • After week four, skip two or three days of watering and note the sod’s overall condition. Try pulling up a corner of the sod and note if the roots have taken hold, and if the grass stays green and upright during this time.

Can You Overwater New Sod?

Because you need to water sod after installation quite often and keep the soil moist and spongy during those first few weeks, you might wonder if you can overwater new sod. The first tip to keep in mind is that new sod might struggle to take root in muddy soil. While you want the soil to be properly watered before sod installation, ensure it’s just moist and doesn’t puddle.

To find the right watering schedule, water your new sod no more than 5 times a day for 10 to 15 minutes at a maximum, and note soil conditions. If you see puddles or notice water running off the lawn, reduce that watering schedule to three times per day.

Check the soil every day as you adjust your watering schedule; if it gets dry between each watering, add one more round of watering. If it’s still overly moist, reduce your watering time slightly and continue to make adjustments until the soil stays moist.

Signs You’re Overwatering Your New Sod!

While you don’t want to water your new sod too infrequently, overwatering that delicate sod is also a common mistake! Note some added signs that you’re overwatering your new sod and need to reduce your watering schedule:

  • Sign #1 - Rotted Roots: Pull up a corner of the sod and inspect developing roots. If they’re brown and rotted, this typically means you’re watering the sod too often.
  • Sign #2 - Damp Past 6 Inches: Soil under sod should be damp down to the first four to six inches, maximum. Insert a long, clean screwdriver into the soil to check its dampness and depth. If the screwdriver is damp past six inches, you’ll need to reduce your watering schedule.
  • Sign #3 - Fungi Growth: Remember that mushrooms and other fungi develop along soggy soil rather easily. If your lawn, tree trunks, or landscaping features start showing signs of fungus growth, this typically indicates overly damp soil.
  • Sign #4 - Muddy Roots: While sod roots need damp, loose soil to take root, those roots cannot knit in muddy soil. When you pull up the sod corner, note if its roots seem to slide right out of the soil! If so, those roots have not taken firm hold and the soil is probably overly moist.

A landscaping contractor can also note signs of overly moist soil and offer personalized suggestions for your property’s soil in particular. They might also note signs of poor irrigation or drainage on your soil and suggest better grading or other corrective measures, to ensure a healthy, lush lawn.

How Long Does It Take for Sod to Root?

It’s vital that you wait until fresh sod takes root before you mow that grass, even if it’s getting a bit long and shaggy! Mowing pulls on grass blades and exposes the tips to sun and weather, so it’s vital that those roots are strong and healthy before running the mower over your sod.

In most cases it takes 10 to 14 days for new sod to root. To ensure those roots are healthy and the grass is ready to mow, try pulling up a corner of your fresh sod. If it comes up easily, the roots are not yet strong. If you need to tug on that section of sod and notice long roots coming out of the ground as you do, then the sod is probably ready for its first cutting!

How Often Should You Mow New Sod?

It’s best to wait at least two weeks before mowing new sod, as said. This ensures roots have taken hold properly, and that the grass is long enough to be cut without harming the blades or overexposing the soil to harsh sunlight.

Over the first few months, it’s vital that new sod stay at a height of at least one-and-a-half to two inches after mowing. Since grass growth varies according to its variety, soil conditions, and weather, adjust your mowing schedule accordingly. It’s also vital that you mow slowly so that your mower doesn’t simply tear at those grass blades, and that you collect grass clippings so they don’t choke the soil and block needed sunlight.

Denver landscaping company mowing lawn

Does Sod Die Easily?

As fresh sod is delicate and not yet rooted in the soil, it does need specialized care to keep it from dying. To prevent damage and ensure a healthy, lush new lawn, consider some quick tips for keeping sod healthy while it takes root; if you follow these tips and water your sod as needed, it shouldn’t die but should grow and thrive!

  • Avoid walking on fresh sod as much as possible. Walking damages fragile grass blades and new roots, and keeps them from becoming strong and healthy.
  • Don’t allow pets on your fresh sod as their sharp nails can tear up delicate grass, and pet waste is especially damaging to new grass blades.
  • As sunlight and wind evaporate moisture, water your fresh sod in the early morning hours, late afternoon, evening, and nighttime, but not in the afternoon when the sun is its warmest. This allows soil to absorb as much moisture as possible and stay properly hydrated throughout the day!
  • Fertilize your new sod according to your landscaper’s direction, but ensure you use their recommended fertilizer type and only apply as much as recommended. Using too much fertilizer can damage delicate grass blades and ruin your new sod.
  • Aerate your new lawn six months to a year after it’s installed, to keep soil healthy and ensure your fresh lawn thrives!

It’s also helpful to contact your landscaper or a nearby landscaping company if you notice any issues with your fresh sod. Many landscaping companies will inspect fresh sod and note why it’s struggling to grow, and offer a range of service options for restoring that grass and keeping it in good health.

A Word from Our Landscaping & Design Company Professionals

This information is proudly presented by Denver Landscaping and Design. If you’re still wondering how often to water sod after installation, or need topnotch commercial or residential sod installation services in the Denver area, don’t hesitate to give us a call! We work with every customer individually to create and maintain a landscaping design that fits your property and budget, and offer the highest-rated lawn care services in Denver and surrounding cities.

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