The necessary beginning steps of caring for your new sod lawn.
When your sod is installed, you should immediately begin watering it twice daily for one week then once daily with an inch of water (about fifteen to twenty minutes) during each session until the sod is rooted in the soil. This should only take a few weeks and is essential for a successful sod lawn. The soil should not ever dry out before the roots grow into the soil.
The best time to water your lawn is during the late-night hours (about 10 p.m to 2 a.m.) and not during the day. This is because at night less water is evaporated and your lawn will use the water more efficiently. Though, if this would be difficult for you to manage, be aware that watering during the day will not damage your sod, but you may have to water longer.
After the sod is rooted, you can gradually decrease the number of watering sessions, but increase the amount of water. For example, after it is rooted, water it twice a week for a half hour for two weeks and then go down to once a week for forty-five minute sessions. You should keep a regular watering schedule like this for your sod lawn for at least one full summer season to ensure that the roots go deep and stay healthy. If your lawn is installed late in the summer, water regularly until the weather cools and start up again as soon as possible the following spring.
Be aware that the weather can affect the way you care for your sod. If there is at least one inch of rainfall on a given day, you won’t need to water the sod on that day. But, on the other hand, if the weather turns very hot and/or very dry, go back to a twice weekly watering regimen until the weather is cooler or more humid.
When your sod has reached a growth of five or more inches, you can begin to mow it. Do not let it grow much longer than five inches. Mow frequently at first, only taking a one or two inches at a time. After you mow, about 2 to 3 inches of grass should remain. Don’t mow shorter than this for one full summer season. If possible, spread your clippings across the lawn, mainly in trouble areas, to aid in new seeding and fertilization.
For chemical fertilization, only fertilize new sod in the fall if it was installed in the spring or early summer. You can fertilize again the following spring. Avoid fertilizing your sod during the first two months after it has been installed and also avoid fertilization during the very hot summer months. The chemicals dry out your sod and the sun and heat will only make it worse. Ideally, you should fertilize your sod in September and then again in November with a slow-release fertilizer. Avoid fertilizers with a high nitrogen content, as this could lead to disease.
When applying the chemical fertilizer, apply it to dry sod and then thoroughly water the sod to allow for maximum absorption of the fertilizer.
Taking care of your sod in the beginning will ensure that you have a beautiful lawn for a very long time.