How to Maintain New Sod

Overview

Sod refers to the precut strips of turf grass laid out on prepared sites to provide an instant lawn. Sod works in areas susceptible to erosion and foot traffic. A sod lawn starts virtually weed free and installs any time during the growing season, weather permitting. These advantages come at a hefty price as sod costs much more than grass seed, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. Use the best cultural practices to maintain new sod and protect your investment.

Step 1

Use a sprinkler to water the sod daily. New sod requires 1 inch of water per week after installation, according to the University of New Hampshire. Place an empty coffee can 6 feet from the sprinkler to get an idea of how much water the area is receiving. Pick up the sprinkler and move it to another area when it looks like the can is holding an inch of water.

Step 2

Check root development eight to 10 days after installation. Tug leaf blades upward with both hands. Sod that resists lifting means the roots are beginning to establish. Sod that lifts easily indicates delayed root development, possibly because the soil is too wet.

Step 3

Water less frequently after roots have established. For example, provide ½ inch of water twice a week. Allow time for the sod to become secure enough to mow.

Step 4

Mow the sod when leaf blades reach 3 inches in height unless otherwise specified. As a general rule, remove no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at a time, so set the lawnmower blade to a 2-inch cutting height.

Step 5

Apply fertilizer in September of the first growing season if the sod was planted in spring under drought conditions. Spread 1 lb. of nitrogen fertilizer per 1000 sq. ft. of lawn space. Otherwise fertilize established sod after the first growing season to boost color and promote growth in damaged areas.

Step 6

Aerate firmly rooted sod to reduce soil compaction and improve drainage A core aerator punches holes in the ground with tines and removes plugs of sod and soil. The resulting holes allow air and water to penetrate the soil. Make an initial pass with the aerator, then make an additional pass at a right angle to the first pass.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use herbicides on new sod. Wait until the next spring growing season to apply a pre-emergent herbicide.

Things You'll Need

  • Sprinkler
  • Coffee can
  • Mower
  • Fertilizer
  • Core aerator

References

  • University of Minnesota Extension: Seeding and Sodding Home Lawns
  • University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension: Installing and Maintaining a Sod Lawn
  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension: Establishing a Lawn from Sod
  • Mississippi State University Center for Sustainable Design: Water Runoff Management Practices-Sodding
  • University of Illinois Extension: Ask the Extension-New Sod Care

Who Can Help

  • University of Delaware Cooperative Extension: Buying and Installing Certified Sod
  • University of Rhode Island GreenShare Fact Sheets: Installing a Sod Lawn
Keywords: maintain new sod, fertilize mow water, sod lawn establishment, sodding, post-installation sod care, herbicide

About this Author

Renee Vians has been writing online since 2008. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism and language arts certification from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Her articles have appeared on eHow, Garden Guides and a variety of other websites.