Tips for New Sod Care

When do you water new sod?

Begin watering newly laid sod within 30 minutes of installation. Apply at least 1” of water so that the soil beneath the turf is wet. Ideally 3”-4” of soil beneath the surface should be moist. Turf is a living plant that requires ground contact and moisture to survive. If the weather is particularly hot and dry, you may need to start irrigating the completed areas before the entire site is laid.

Continue watering new sod twice per day, in the morning and afternoon—thorough, deep watering is best until the soil is saturated but not puddling. Morning is ideal with lower wind speeds and less water is lost to evaporation. Watering in the evening is discouraged—water remaining on the grass can promote disease and fungus.

Within a few weeks, when the sod has started rooting into the soil, you will not have to water it as much. After the sod is well established (several weeks after installation) irrigating deeply and infrequently encourages roots to grow deep, making the turf more tolerant to drought.


Proper watering techniques are important.

  • Make sure that water gets to all areas of the lawn, regardless of the type of irrigation system you use. Many sprinklers miss corners and edges which are particularly vulnerable to drying out. Areas near building also dry out faster because of reflected heat.
  • Avoid hand watering because it cannot provide uniformity.
  • In-ground systems require professional installation, routine adjustments, and proper maintenance.
    Although tempting to “set it and forget it”, be sure to adjust for seasonal water requirements as well as changes in the weather. Check alignment of sprinkler heads to make sure they’re applying water to the lawn instead of sidewalks, street, or house-siding.
  • Water early in the morning, 6-8am. Wind speeds are lower and less water is lost to evaporation. Watering in the evening is discouraged—water remaining on the grass can promote disease and fungus.
  • Infrequent, deep watering is better than shallow watering. Roots grow only as deep as the most frequent available water supply.


Less sun in the mornings means lower temperatures. Lower temperatures mean less evaporation. Less evaporation means more water gets absorbed by soil. More absorption means healthier grass.


The absolute worst time to water is in the middle of the day, when temperatures are at their peak and water evaporates too quickly. Therefore, many people have the misconception that watering in the evening is just as good as watering early in the morning. However, this is simply not true. Watering at night, while wind and temperatures are lower, does not provide the same benefits to your grass. Instead, watering in the evening gives wet blades of grass the entire night to develop lawn diseases and fungus. Stick to watering in the mornings, folks!

How soon do you mow new sod?

Your new sod can be mowed when it looks like it needs mowing (approximately 1 week after installation). When possible, use a walk-behind power mower, with the cutting height set high (3 inches). Do not use a riding mower as it is too heavy and its powered wheels can tear up the new sod. After the sod has fully rooted (approximately 3 weeks), regular mowing can commence. For best results, never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade per mowing and maintain sharp mower blades. Cutting frequency will need to be increased during the faster growing seasons of spring and fall. Grass clippings may be left on the lawn to return nutrients to the root zone.

How often do you fertilize new sod?

To ensure that your turf remains healthy, feed your lawn 3-4 times during the growing season.  A slow-release or controlled-release form of Nitrogen should be used whenever possible, but especially on the spring and fall applications.

A fourth application in the Spring (April Fool’s Day) may be made if a late fall fertilization was not done.

Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, and completely “water-in” fertilizer after each application.

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