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Proper Care and Watering for New Seed or Sod Lawns

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Whether you have new sod or seed one thing is certain, your root structure is young and fragile. New seeds will take longer than sod to root and establish since sod has a head start, but the demise of both will come quickly without proper care. With proper care and watering, establishment generally takes 4-8 weeks. Factors such as weather may slow or speed this process.

The main goal to be achieved by watering is to keep the roots moist with the water they need and prevent them from drying out. Water is essential for proper root establishment and a successful lawn. If you are lucky enough to have frequent rain events, less watering may be required. But it is likely that some artificial watering will be required. This will be easier with an automatic sprinkler system but can be done with hoses, sprinklers and hose bib timers. The amount of water required will depend on several factors given below. The objective will be to keep the surface soil moist throughout the day. Shorter, more frequent waterings are suggested; generally 3 or more times per day. As the roots grow deeper, watering times can be adjusted to run longer with fewer cycles and eventually as little as 3x a week with no rain events; or even off when rain events are sufficiently proving the needed water.

When establishing a new lawn there are many factors that are out of your control. Knowing these factors will help you make the proper adjustments for successful growth. The weather can help or hinder the growth. Rain in the proper amounts is very beneficial. However a sudden downpour can cause erosion and wash away seeds or cause ruts in the yard. Wind can not only bow away seeds but also will dry out the surface of the soil creating a need for more frequent watering. Additionally, temperature is an important factor to consider as well. Cold temperatures can cause freezing or slow growth. Hot temperatures will cause the soil to dry out faster.

Other factors to consider are unwanted traffic on new lawn areas. It is important to keep people, pets and vehicles (even lawn mowers) off the newly seeded areas until the time is right. Early traffic can damage new grass blades and roots as well as leave ruts and divots in the lawn which may prove to be very difficult to remove. Watch for pests such as insects or birds causing issues for new lawn areas. If an issue begins, seek a remedy to prevent further damage. Additionally, weed pressure may form in seeded areas. This is generally not as big of a concern for sod areas. In the event that weeds begin to grow, it is suggested to apply a liquid broadleaf weed control agent once new turf grass is property established. In the event that seeded areas are not fully covered after seeding, another seed application is recommended.

When checking for growth, you can find a test section to pull up a corner of sod; or in seeded areas pull out a blade of grass to inspect root growth. This can be done more easily in sod areas as most roots will be protruding from the sod making it easy to see how much growth has occurred. Seeds will be harder to tell, but surface conditions and growth will give you a good idea how growth underneath is performing. With sod, if it is difficult or nearly impossible to pull the sod from the soil beneath, that is a good sign of deep roots forming.

Once new growth has occurred and the lawn is property rooted, regular care and maintenance can begin. Fertilizer can be applied to assist in growth. Herbicides for weed control should be used with caution where seeded areas are newly established as they may have ill effects on turf grasses which are not yet mature. As with any fertilizer or herbicide it is best to fully read and understand the label to prevent undesirable side effects. Initial mow height should remove no more than ⅓ of the grass blade. Additionally, it is wise to reduce or suspend watering a few days prior to mowing to allow the soil to dry out and firm up. This will prevent ruts from forming. This is also a good procedure to follow prior to any mowing or heavy traffic events.

Lastly, once you have achieved a lush green lawn you should go outside and enjoy it!

Common questions this article hopes to answer:

When to fertilize new sod?

When to begin mowing new sod or seed?

When can I walk on new sod?

Can I apply liquid fertilizer for new sod?

How to care for Bermuda sod?

How long should I keep my dog off new sod?

New sod problems?

Can you water new sod too much?

How often do you water new sod?

What to do after sod is laid?

Should I fertilize new sod?

How to care for new sod?

Jasper Ridge landscaping provides “Professional Landscape Services” to the Joplin and surrounding areas; including Carl Junction and Webb City. Our service area is contained within Jasper and Newton Counties in Missouri (MO). For more information about Jasper Ridge LLC please contact us using the contact form.



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