Proper care of a newly laid sod lawn ensures the grass remains healthy so you can enjoy a lush lawn for many years. Prepare the lawn area before purchasing the sod as the sod rolls are delicate and dry quickly during warm weather. Sod is established rolls of grass, which allows you to install it at your convenience during the spring, summer or fall. Sod installed during the summer requires aggressive watering for the first two months.
Select a sod grass variety based on your USDA Hardiness Zone and sunlight in the growing area. Contact your county university extension office for grass type recommendations. Purchase fresh sod that is moist and has not been sitting in full sun, which dries out the root system. Install sod during the early morning hours and immediately after purchasing to prevent grass and root damage from the sod drying out. Store sod in a cool area out of the sunlight if you are unable to install it immediately. Lightly spray the sod with water to prevent the roots from drying out.
Install sod on prepared soil, starting at the longest point of the lawn. Unroll the sod and join the short ends by pressing them close together. Install the second row of sod by unrolling the sod and pushing it up next to the first. Do not allow gaps to form between each length of sod as this creates holes in the lawn. Lay each sod strip in a brickwork pattern so the short ends do not line up with each other. Use topsoil to fill in any gaps after installation, to limit holes and bumps in the lawn.
Water the sod immediately after installation with approximately 1 inch of water. Use a shallow metal can placed in the middle of the lawn to measure the water application amount. Provide a daily ½-inch water application during the first two weeks for sod installed during the summer or two to threes times a week for sod installed during the moist spring or fall seasons. Continue to water the lawn once or twice a week for the first two months of growth with 1 inch of water during each application.
Allow the sod to dry for two days once the grass reaches a height of 4 to 5 inches, approximately two weeks after installation, so you can easily mow it. Mow the sod grass to a height of 3 inches with a lawnmower that has a sharp blade. Continue to mow the lawn each week as it grows quickly from the heavy water applications. Rake the grass clippings after each mowing session or use a bag attachment on the mower to limit thatch build up in the new sod. Set the lawn mower blade to the highest height and never mow more than one-third the total length off the sod grass to prevent damage to the root system.
Fertilize the sod lawn with a 16-16-16 grass fertilizer approximately six weeks after installation and apply water to the lawn immediately after the fertilizer application to prevent chemical burn on the sod. Wait to fertilize the sod until the spring season if you installed it during the fall season to give the grass time to establish. Do not apply crabgrass or weed preventing chemicals to the sod lawn until the second growing season, as this limits growth and root establishment.