Summer temps are certainly upon us and with that comes a homeowner’s responsibility to take care of their newly planted grass or sod. Hot summer days can be hard on your yard and you will want to make sure to water all sod and grass seed, especially newly installed sod or seed.
Unlike established grass, new sod requires a great amount of water frequently, to ensure that the sod will take root. Just like any other plants, overwatering of sod can be damaging as well and can cause the sod to become soggy, rust can rise up, fungus could grow, it can be susceptible to bugs and will eventually prevent it from establishing a strong root system. Should you start to see signs of excessive watering skip one or two watering sessions so the sod and soil underneath is not over saturated and soggy or rust colored.
Watering is most effective when done early in the morning prior to sunrise, right after sunrise and again when the sun goes down.
Following our suggested schedule below, so your yard doesn’t go brown and takes properly to the soil and you can enjoy it for years to come.
(WITHOUT a sprinkler system installed)
When a new lawn is installed, care is very important; particularly for the first month. The below are general care guidelines for seed and sod to help achieve the best possible lawn. These guidelines do not guarantee a healthy lawn, and Thomsen Homes is not liable for growth of the lawn. In general, if the soil is cracking, there isn’t enough water being put on the lawn. If there is runoff, too much water is being put on the lawn.
Watering the Seed
To assure proper germination water regularly; keeping the yard moist will maximize seed germination. By watering regularly and keeping the new seedlings from drying out will give the lawn the best chance at proper growth.
It is ok to walk on the hydro seeded surface when watering. Try to walk only on areas that are dry, and try not to disturb the mulch mat.
Mowing can begin once the new lawn is 3″ tall in most areas. Mowing stimulates growth and increases thickness. Set the mower high at first, then gradually lower. Try to cut no more than 1/3 of the grass at a time.
Fertilizing the Seed
Avoid fertilizers with high nitrogen content since these can lead to disease. Remember to fertilize the sod every 50 to 60 days from March to October, resuming this pattern again next spring. Do not over fertilize, as this can burn the seed out. Fertilizing in the winter can stress the sod. Use a weed control fertilizer to tackle weeds, if any.
Watering the Sod
It is imperative to douse the sod with water as soon as it is laid, within the first hour at the latest. Watering frequently keeps the delicate roots from drying out and prevents the sod from shrinking in size. This is especially important if the sod is exposed to full sunlight. Make sure to water uniformly so it reaches all the way down and becomes soggy. Keep soaking it this way with water for the first two weeks. If temperatures rise, sprinklers can be put on every two hours to make sure water penetrates the soil through each panel of sod, especially the edges and the seam. In the summer months, it is always best to water either at night or early morning (when chances of evaporation are minimum). Avoid watering in the evenings, since it may increase the chances of fungus growth. If the sod starts paling in color, it means it is not receiving enough water. Continue watering it thoroughly so it receives moisture and resumes its previous color.
Fertilizing the Sod
Avoid fertilizers with high nitrogen content since these can lead to disease. Remember to fertilize the sod every 50 to 60 days from March to October, resuming this pattern again next spring. Do not over fertilize, as this can burn the sod out. Fertilizing in the winter can stress the sod. Use a weed control fertilizer to tackle weeds, if any.
Keeping Traffic off the Sod
Even the slightest pressure on the newly laid sod can cause the delicate root system to tear even before it is fully formed (delaying the knitting process with the soil and at the seams). If there are children, or pets in the home it is suggested to cordon off the area where the sod was laid by making a simple, yet functional, wire frame that will serve its purpose.
Mowing the Sod
Wait at least 5 weeks before mowing the sod to ensure the roots have established themselves into the soil (and will not break due to the weight of the mower). Remember not to mow more than 1/3 of the leaf length the first time, taking it down from there with each successive mowing (until desired height is reached).
(WITH a sprinkler system installed)
Week 1 – Controller will be set with 3 watering start times per day for new sod. Water 3 times per day for one week. Sod will be very wet by the end of the week. Rotor zones will be set to run 40 minutes, and mister zones will be set to run 20 minutes. Keep close watch on the sod, if any of the sod is turning grey or looking dry, adjust the heads or call Thomsen Homes.
Week 2 – Set controller to only watering 1 time per day. This is done by turning the dial to Program Start Times, incrementing start times 2 and 3 to OFF, leaving only 1 start time. Keep a close eye on the sod to make sure it does not get too dry during these times. A few extra watering’s may need to be done if it is extremely hot or windy.
Week 3 – Set controller to only water once a day Every Other Day. This can be set by turning dial to Set Days To Water. Keep a close eye on grass during this time as well.
Remaining life of Sod – Cut back on watering based upon how green of a lawn is desired. Most people tend to water 3 days a week, and let the rotor zones run 30 minutes and mister zones run 15 minutes.
After Seed is put down – Controller will be set with 4 watering start times per day. Rotors will be running 7 to 10 minutes, and misters will be running 3 to 5 minutes. Water like this until green grass is seen sprouting all over the yard.
Once all Grass has sprouted – Turn the watering down to 2 times per day. Rotors running 15 minutes and misters running 7 minutes. This can be done by turning the dial to Program Start Times and incrementing start time 3 to OFF, leaving only start time 1 and 2. Then adjust Zone Run Times. Water like this until grass is about 3 or 4 inches high.
Once grass is 3 or 4 inches high – Cut back to 3 or 4 days a week depending on how green of a lawn is desired. Rotors should be set around 30 minutes and misters around 15 minutes.
Head installation – All Heads will be set to slightly over spray to compensate for wind. When the lawn is established, heads should be fine-tuned so they are not over spraying.
Head adjustment instructions for rotors: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znY8Mv7kyB8
Head adjustment for misting van nozzle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL1JsluDxJo
Be sure to talk with your landscape company after the installation of your sod and they can give you the advice and instructions on how to take care of your new lawn. Check back for more homeowner tips like this on the Thomsen Homes blog.