There are a lot of benefits to using sod in your landscape design. It helps keep your landscape cooler, provides a soft and safe place for kids to play, and increases the value of your home. If you’ve made the decision to invest in sod, then you’ll want to be certain that you’re caring for it properly. Here’s how you can take care of your sod in the first, critical weeks and ensure that it takes root quickly and stays healthy.
Day 1: Before installing, have your sod inspected for fungus or pests to ensure proper rooting. The same day that sod is installed deeply irrigate to promote root establishment. Water should penetrate all of the sod and at least two inches into the native soil.
Day 2-Day 6: Keep the sod moist, but not soaking. Lightly spray the sod a few times each day so that the soil of the sod is wet, but the ground beneath it is dry.
Day 7: Have a visual inspection by a qualified turf specialist for fungus and pests. It’s not unusual for the sod to come from the farm with pests and you want to protect your investment with a professional inspection before permanent damage takes place. This is a critical step! We have sod inspected every install as it is the key to establishing healthy turf.
Day 8-Day 12: Continue to keep your sod moist without soaking through to the ground beneath. Water early in the day to make sure that water can sit on the turf long enough to get roots without sitting so long that it causes fungus to grow.
Day 13: Cut back the frequency of irrigation to prepare for the first mow.
Day 14: Time to mow! A high cut will be the least stressful for the sod. Never cut more than the upper third of the grass blade.
Week 2-Week 3: Cut back on watering strategically. Check the root establishment by lifting a corner of the sod. If it gives resistance, then the roots are becoming established. You can omit one watering in the day, but add a few extra minutes to the other times you water.
Week 4: Have another professional inspection. Issues with fungus or pests can come up through the establishment process and a qualified turf specialist will be able to tell whether or not there are any problems.
Once you’ve been cleared by the turf specialist, fertilize sod to encourage rooting. Consider talking to a professional about ongoing fertilizer and pesticide treatment to keep your sod as healthy as possible.
Continue to monitor water levels. You may need to water different parts of your lawn for different periods of time. Shady areas require less water, sunny areas require more. Gainesville can have unpredictable moisture levels in the spring. So you’ll want to make sure that you are not over-watering.
The most common issues with newly installed sod are due to improper irrigation.
Not rooting? Most sod will root in 10-14 days. Adjust your watering schedule to fewer, deeper soaks if you’re having rooting issues. Shady areas also take longer to root, so keep in mind the sun exposure in any areas of concern.
Footprints? When properly hydrated, grass will bounce back to shape once it’s been stepped on. This is one of the reasons it’s important not to walk on fresh sod. If you’re getting footprints, try to add a soak or increase the soak time at each watering.
Gaps, lifting, or browning edges? Water, again! Sod will shrink, lift, or turn up at the corners when there isn’t enough moisture. Add time to your watering sessions or add an additional soak during the day. Pay attention to where you’re seeing issues, as you may need to adjust where your sprinklers are hitting or hand water areas that need some extra attention.
New sod is an investment in your landscaping, and ultimately your home. It maximizes curb appeal and makes your lawn fresh and inviting. Making the extra effort to properly care for your sod will ensure that it takes root and flourishes in your landscape.