New Sod Problems

Date: July 10, 2022

Sod is a great way to create a beautiful, established lawn in no time; however, you must learn how to properly care for your sod as it is getting established. This means you must know when to water, when to fertilize, when to mow, and much more. If your sod is not looking its best, take heart. Most sod issues are fixable, especially if you catch them when they first begin. Below you will learn about the most common problems that affect sod, what causes these issues, and the solution for each problem.

Your Sod Begins to Turn Brown

If your beautiful green sod begins turning brown, don’t panic. Brown grass does not always mean your turf is dead. Brown grass can signify dormancy as well as death. Typically, when sod turns brown, it will stay dormant for at least six weeks before it dies. There are several things you can do to bring your grass out of dormancy and turn your lawn bright green.

Causes and Solutions

There are several reasons why your sod turns brown, including underwatering your sod, compacted soil, and fertilizing your newly installed sod. Another reason why your sod can turn brown is pet urine.

Underwatering Your Sod

One of the main causes of brown sod is underwatering. During the first week, your sod should be watered at least daily. Depending on the type of grass, you may need to water it more than once per day. Speak with your lawn care service for information on how often you should water your sod.

Another thing to consider is how you water your lawn. You want to saturate your sod and the soil underneath deeply and thoroughly. Deep, slow watering is the best watering method to keep your lawn green and healthy.

Compacted Soil

Your soil should be prepared for a new installation of sod. This means all weeds, rocks, and grass must be removed. Then, the ground should be aerated or tilled to loosen the dirt, which will make it easier for the roots to take hold. When the soil is compacted, it cannot absorb the water needed to keep your sod roots hydrated. Furthermore, compacted soil can reduce oxygen levels in the soil.

If your soil is compacted, lift up your sod and use a garden aerator to aerate the soil. After the soil has been aerated, relay your sod and begin watering daily to help it set and the sod to take root. Remember, healthy soil is necessary for healthy sod.

Fertilizing Sod

Newly installed sod does not need to be fertilized. If you apply fertilizer too soon, it can cause your sod to become dormant. Once you stop fertilization, your sod should turn green and begin growing. Fertilizing should not be done until your lawn is established, and your sod has taken root. On average, you will want to wait a month or two before applying any type of fertilizer.

Pet Urine

Pet urine contains a high amount of nitrogen which can kill your grass. If your dog prefers to use one area of lawn, you will need to water multiple times per day to dilute the nitrogen in the soil. When sod is first installed, we recommend keeping your pet on a leash and guiding them to different areas of the lawn to reduce the risk of nitrogen buildup.

You Sod Does Not Properly Root

In order for your sod to grow and remain green, it must root. There are two stages to rooting when it comes to sod – shallow rooting and deep rooting. The first stage of rooting is shallow rooting. This type of rooting happens within the first couple of weeks following your sod installation. Deep rooting happens after this.

Shallow rooting should occur quickly. If your sod doesn’t begin to root or doesn’t develop past the shallow rooting stage, you will need to determine the issue that is causing the issue. Once the issue has been resolved, your sod will begin growing a healthy root system.

Causes and Solutions

There are several reasons why your sod doesn’t root properly, including floating sod, improper watering, and mowing too short. Each of these issues can be corrected and your sod can develop deep roots.

Floating Sod

Floating sod occurs when the sod does not come in contact with the soil underneath it. When this occurs, the root system will not develop properly. To determine if your sod is rooting, gently tug on the sod. If you can lift it up, your sod is not developing the necessary root system.

Floating sod is a common issue. It occurs when the sod is not installed properly. Luckily, it is easy to correct. First, you will want to thoroughly water your sod. Decrease the water pressure and slowly water your entire lawn. Then, take a garden roller and roll your entire lawn. The weight will help press the sod into your soil so a root system can develop.

Improper Watering of Your Sod

Improper watering not only causes brown sod and dormancy, but it can also prevent your sod from developing a healthy root system. It is essential that you frequently during the first two weeks following the installation of your sod. During the first two weeks, shallow rooting is encouraged.

Once two weeks have passed, you should water your lawn every other day to help develop a deep root system. You want to ensure you thoroughly saturate the ground. Watering every other day encourages your sod to send roots deep into the soil looking for water. The water near the surface will evaporate within 24 hours; however, the water that is soaked deep in the soil will remain for several days.

Mowing Your Sod Too Soon and Too Short

Most people want to mow their sod too soon and keep it too short; however, this can prevent your sod from developing a healthy root system. In order to establish a good root system, wait several weeks before mowing. To determine if it is time to mow, pull on the sod to see if it lifts. If it does, you will need to wait another week or two.

When your grass is exposed to the sun, photosynthesis occurs. Photosynthesis is the process that plants use to create food. Longer grass blades ensure your sod is receiving the nutrients it needs for optimal development. Mowing too soon or too short, can decrease the amount of nutrients your sod receives.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your sod looking great is not difficult when you follow our tips. In addition to those listed above, try to avoid heavy traffic after new sod is installed.  You will want to wait several weeks to ensure the sod has developed a healthy root system before you do any type of construction or play sports like baseball, football, or soccer on your lawn.

The first step toward a beautiful lawn is helping your newly installed lawn develop a healthy root system. Water your lawn daily, avoid mowing too soon or too low, and avoid heavy foot traffic for the first month or so.

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New Sod Problems
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