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Sod installation

What To Do After Sod Installation

Starting a lawn from sod allows you to enjoy its appearance immediately, and you can begin to take advantage of a healthy, newly installed sod area long before you could use a lawn started from seed, sprigs, or plugs. Excellent site preparation that includes controlling weeds and amending and grading the soil as well as utilizing correct installation techniques and caring for the sod well prior to laying it down are all important. However, effort put into the preparation and installation of a sodded area is at least partly wasted if you do not care for the newly installed sod well.


Ample moisture is critical for sod survival. Water the sod thoroughly within 30 minutes of when you install it. Until the sod roots, or after about one to three weeks, water it with an inch of water every one to three days, depending on weather conditions. Keep the sod and the soil surface constantly moist but not soaking. Once the sod has rooted — which you can test by gauging how difficult it is to lift up the corner of a section — decrease the frequency of irrigation. Provide the grass with about an inch of water weekly and ensure that each irrigation session soaks the top 4 to 6 inches of soil. Avoid excessive irrigation or irrigation that is too shallow and frequent and keeps the sod soggy and wet, as this will keep sod roots from growing into the soil well and can lead to disease problems.


After the sod is dry enough to walk on following the initial soaking at installation, tamp or roll the entire sodded area lightly with a lawn roller. This is necessary to ensure that the sod is solidly in contact with the soil surface and removes small bumps and air pockets.


Plant to first mow the newly sodded lawn about six or seven days after installation or as soon as the grass blades are 4 inches tall. Mow the grass at the height recommended for the species, typically around 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall. Make sure the mower blades are sharp and never remove more than one-third of the grass blades’ height with a single mowing. Leave grass clippings in place unless they are clumping. Remove or break up any clumps of grass clippings so that they can efficiently break down and return nutrients to the soil.


Consider having the soil in the lawn site tested and plan your fertilizer type and applications according to the results of the soil test. As a general guideline, the newly installed sod will benefit from a fertilizer application after about four to six weeks of growth. Broadcast a complete fertilizer with a formula like 10-10-10 or 2-1-1 over the sod so that 1 pound of nitrogen is applied per 1,000 square feet of sod and lightly water it in.


Light foot traffic will not interfere with sod establishment, but minimizing use for about two to three weeks following installation or until roots are well established is ideal. Avoid heavy, concentrated activity on the sodded area for about four weeks following installation, if possible.