Nebraska sometimes experiences drought conditions during the summer. Due to this lack of moisture, new sod lawns have to be treated with special care. According to Roch Gaussoin, University of Nebraska turf grass specialist, water conservation should always be Nebraskans' goal, but drought conditions make it especially important. Installing and maintaining a sod lawn uses less water than starting turf grass from seed.
Irrigate between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. Apply 1 inch of water to the new sod lawn every week. Water three times a week during dry weather. Place the empty soup can 6 feet from an irrigation sprinkler. After 1 inch of water collects in the empty can, shut off the water or move the sprinkler to another area.
Keep all traffic from the new sod lawn for at least three weeks. Heavy foot traffic and mowers will compact the soil under the sod and cause improper root development. Lift the edges on a few pieces of sod to check the root system and ensure a good foothold into the soil.
Apply fertilizer sparingly over the new sod. Follow all label directions on the packaging. Too much fertilizer will cause root burn to the new root structure and may kill sections of the sod. It is better to withhold fertilizer until the roots of the new sod are firmly established in the soil. New sod lawns are typically fertilized twice a year, in the fall and early spring.
Mow the new sod once the height reaches 3 inches. Set the mower to 2 inches high. Never remove more than one-third the overall height of the grass blades.
Allow the grass cuttings to fall back on top of the new sod. This method of self-mulching increases the amount of organic material back into the soil. It will also aid in conserving water for Nebraska’s hot and dry summers.