Best Tips for Watering, Fertilizing and Mowing Your New Sod Lawn.
So, you have just had a new sod lawn installed in your yard - great choice! A sod lawn grows much more quickly and requires much less maintenance than a newly seeded grass lawn. Now that your new sod lawn has been installed it is essential to take care of it properly to make sure that your lawn takes well and to ensure that the new lawn looks beautiful for many years to come.
When your sod is installed, you should immediately begin watering. If the weather is hot, then water two times per day, every day, for one week. Then water once per day, to a depth of one inch each time you water. This usually means having the sprinklers on for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Continue this watering pattern until the sod is rooted in to the soil. This should only take a few weeks and is essential for a successful sod lawn. The soil should never be allowed to fully dry out before the roots from the sod grow into the soil.
The best time to water your lawn is during the late-night hours, from about 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and not during the day. This is because at night less water evaporates and your lawn will use the water more efficiently. If you are watering manually and have to water during the day, this will not damage your sod but you may have to water longer. Remember that deep rooting is promoted by less frequent watering, resulting in increased drought tolerance. Watering deeply forces the roots of the grass to search for water deep into the soil, making your lawn more resilient during hot weather.
Once the sod is rooted, you can gradually decrease your watering sessions, but need to increase the amount of water. For example, after the sod is rooted, change your water pattern to: twice a week for half an hour to 45 minutes each time for two weeks. 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 in late summer water regularly until the weather cools and rain starts. Come the following spring start up again with a regular watering schedule.
Take into consideration that fluctuating weather can affect the way you care for your new sod lawn. If there is at least one inch of rainfall on a given day, you won't need to water the sod on that day and on the flip side, if the weather turns very hot and/or dry, return to a twice-a-week watering regimen until the weather is cooler or more rainy.
When your sod has reached a height of five or six inches, you can begin to mow it. Do not let it grow much longer than five inches. You really need to be keeping an eye on it, as it can grow very, very quickly especially when installed in late spring. Make sure to mow frequently at the beginning. Remember to cut only one or two inches off at a time. The rule of thumb is to never cut more than 1/3rd of the grass’s height at a time. After you mow, about 2 to 3 inches of grass should remain. Longer grass is healthy and more resistant to weeds and diseases. Don't mow shorter than this. I like to make sure that I am bagging the clippings for the first month, then you can use the mulching mower. With newly laid sod it is important to try and cut the lawn diagonally to the seams.
The best time to start fertilizing your new sod lawn is in the fall, if your new sod was installed in the spring or early summer. You can fertilize again the following spring once it warms up and then continue on with a three-times-per-year fertilizer program. For the ultimate lawn, you can apply fertilizer up to five times per year. Totally avoid fertilizing your sod during the first two months after it has been installed. Ideally, you should fertilize your sod at the end of September or October using a slow-release fertilizer with a higher level of potassium (the third number on the fertilizer bag). Avoid fertilizers with high nitrogen content (the first number on the bag), until the following late spring or summer.
When applying the fertilizer use either a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader. They can cost around $25 and are totally worth it. When operating your spreader always fill the spreader on a paved area rather than on the lawn. This can really help avoid any potential disasters. If the fertilizer spills onto the lawn it will burn the lawn. Always make sure that the spreader is closed before filling. You should be moving the spreader forward as you open the lever to release the fertilizer. For the most ideal application apply it in two equal applications. The first application is applied lengthwise across the lawn and the second application is applied crosswise across the lawn. To calibrate the spreader, it is important to read the product label to determine the application rate. Set the openings on the spreader using the recommendations in the spreader product manual.
A good tip to remember is to apply fertilizer to dry sod and then thoroughly water the sod in to allow maximum absorption of the fertilizer.
So, putting in a little extra love to taking care of your sod in the beginning will ensure that you have a happy, healthy beautiful lawn that you and your family can enjoy.