How Easy is it to Care for Newly Laid Sod? WATER, SUNLIGHT and AIR are KEY Components.


Updated 10/19/23

When you receive your newly harvested sod, most of the root system has been cut off – and you’re getting maybe a 1/2 inch of soil / roots with your sod rolls.  Over the next year / a full annual growing season, the roots of your sod are going to be growing back. Once the roots have grown back in at around the 1 year mark after transplanting to your yard, then your sod is considered ESTABLISHED.

You need a healthy balance of WATER,SUNLIGHT, and AIR, to help your sod to start to take root after within weeks, depending partly on your initial soil preparation and sod installation.

Since you have limited control over SUNLIGHT and AIR, the key to success relies heavily on WATER.  The roots of your new sod will penetrate the soil faster and root down sooner if properly watered.  Only 2-3 weeks may be necessary for initial sod rooting, but the roots will still be relatively shallow.

Common questions we get are when? and how much?  Usually, there are two main ways to kill new sod … by watering too much, or watering too little.

Here’s how to ensure that your new sod has the right amount of water.

First day watering.
Your sod should be soaked with water as soon as it is laid. Water each zone or section as soon as it is laid!

How do you check to make sure you have watered it enough?

You could check by walking on it. If you make deep footprints, it has enough water.

Another way – if the soil is firm – is to lift a few different corner of the sod to inspect. The soil on the back of the sod should be damp to wet. If it is not damp – and if the ground is still dry underneath – water for at least 30 minutes.

Second through fifth day watering. 
Check your lawn at least one time per day, or more than once if it is hot or windy. Walk on the new lawn to inspect it. If the soil is soft and you make deep footprints, or water has puddle in areas, it is too wet and you should stop watering for awhile, and water less often with less water. If the soil is firm, lift a corner of the sod in several places. The soil should be damp, not  dripping wet, or dusty dry.

Watch the color of the sod.

Green is good.

Blue-green indicates not enough water, and you will have problems in 12-24 hours.

Yellow-tan means the sod is heat/moisture stressed and will go dormant. The roots and crowns are still alive and if you water more, new leaves will appear in seven to ten days.

Cracks that appear between the rolls indicates not enough water has been applied and you should water longer or more often.

Temperatures above 80 degrees F generally mean more water is needed and below 60 degrees F means less water is needed.

In the cooler months of March, April, October, and November, sod needs much less water.

Further watering.
After five days or so, the soil has soaked up water like a sponge, and you must reduce your watering habits or you will drown the new roots.

Roots will not grow into waterlogged soils!  Begin stretching out the time between the watering. Reset your timer if you have an automatic system.

New Sod Watering Tips near Sidewalks and Driveways and Surfaces that Reflect Heat onto your Sod (like FENCES!).
Pay close attention around paved areas!
A LOT of heat will transfers from paved / hard surfaces and will dry out nearby new sod much faster than the rest of the new yard.

Pay close attention to your new sod on hot hot days and make sure to WATER more than you might usually.  It’s almost impossible to over-water sod that has been installed in the past month or so when we’re seeing 90 Degree Temps.   When in doubt, call us at 574-232-6811

Here’s a related FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION that we hear a lot:

I installed by sod last year, and now it’s the hottest part of the summer. Is there something I need to know?

Good question!  Newly installed sod takes about a year or a full growing season to be considered fully established, with a fully developed root system.  A healthy, established lawn is more forgiving and durable that a newly laid, still-establishing lawn.   Watering an ESTABLISHING yard versus an ESTABLISHED yard are two different things – and the hotter and dryer it is, the more this will become apparent.  Some general tips to follow when it comes to watering your ESTABLISHED lawn are:

  1. The best time to water is 4am-8am.
  2. The next best time is 8am-noon.
  3. If you can’t water during these times, watering when you can is much better than not watering at all.
  4. Watering every day, in light/shallow waterings should be avoided and can produce unwanted crabgrass, diseases and other weeds that thrive in that environment.
  5. Deep, infrequent watering is the best for established lawns.
  6. Fertilizing and mowing should also be avoided during extremely hot and dry periods.

Lawns that are still establishing tend to need more water overall – but hard surfaces that radiate heat, slopes and shade can make a difference.

To dive in deeper on this topic, check out our blog article HERE called, “Irrigation, droughts – and strange weather … HOT, DRY SUMMER TURF TIPS from Red Hen Turf Farm”  and Purdue’s free guide on Irrigation Practices for Homelawns (CLICK HERE)

Read our “Early and Longterm Sod Care Instructions” and much, much more by visiting Red Hen Turf Farm’s PDF LIbrary.

Or give us a call today – 574-232-6811

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