High quality, premium sod usually does not contain any weeds; however, weeds can appear once the sod has been installed. If the soil on which the sod is installed contains live weeds, they can begin growing up through your sod. Caring for new sod is different than caring for an established lawn, which means you must use different weed control methods.
Sod is grown on a farm until it reaches maturity. Then, the sod along with a couple of inches of soil is cut into strips and sent to lawn service providers, retailers, and homeowners. The sod is then applied to your prepared lawn. Newly installed sod is quite vulnerable. Disease, drought, insect infestations, the weather, herbicides, weeds, and fertilizers can overwhelm your newly installed sod. Therefore, you must determine the best weed control method for newly installed sod.
A weed is any wild plant that grows where it isn’t wanted. These plants compete with your sod and other cultivated plants. Effective weed control is not eliminating every weed from your lawn. Instead, it is about controlling the weeds in your landscape. Weed control involves eliminating current weeds and preventing other weeds from establishing themselves in your lawn and landscape.
There are several ways to control weeds and protect your new sod from damage. The weed control method chosen will be dependent on the age and health of your sod. It is important to remember the most vulnerable time is during the first 30 to 60 days following the installation of new sod. Here are the top four things you can do to prevent and control weeds while keeping your new sod healthy.
One of the best ways to control weeds with newly installed sod is hand pulling. Hand pulling weeds is an organic weed control method that is quite effective. To help prevent the weed from growing back, you will want to ensure you pull close to the soil surface and get all of the weed’s roots.
Do not put pulled weeds in your compost bin as many seeds can survive for extended periods of time. Additionally, do not put pulled weeds in your burn pile as the seeds can float through the air and reseed. Instead, you want to place your pulled weeds in a garbage bag. Tie the bag tightly closed and place it in your garbage bin.
Herbicides are chemicals that kill plant life. There are two different types of herbicides – selective and nonselective. Selective herbicides are designed to kill certain types of weeds while nonselective herbicides kill all plants the herbicide comes in contact with.
Using herbicides on freshly installed sod is not recommended until after the sod has rooted (30 to 60 days after installation). Once your sod has properly rooted, you can apply an herbicide to weeds in your landscape. However, it is important to read the label carefully to determine if the herbicide is safe for your newly installed sod.
Weeds need the same three things that your sod needs to thrive – sunlight, water, and soil, which is why weeds commonly sprout up in thin or bare spots in your lawn. Before new sod is installed, all weeds will be removed, and the soil will be turned. This will reduce the risk of weeds establishing on your lawn.
The type of sod chosen can also reduce the risk of weeds. For example, lawn grasses with open canopies like St. Augustine grass are at an increased risk of weed establishment. Additionally, bluegrass, centipede grass, and certain tall fescues that recover slowly from damage are at an increased risk of weed development. Conversely, grasses like Bermuda grass that recover quickly from damage and Zoysia grass that has a thick canopy reduce the risk of weed development.
Maintaining a thick, healthy carpet of grass will reduce a weed’s ability to take root. When your sod is installed, it is essential that you follow the instructions from your lawn service on how to properly care for your newly installed sod. First, your sod will require daily watering to help it root. Foot traffic should be kept to a minimum for at least the first couple of weeks. Once your sod has rooted in the soil, fertilizer should be used to help the sod thrive. Healthy grass is the best defense against weeds.
Mowing is essential when it comes to weed control. When a weed is cut before it develops a seed head, it cannot spread seeds and create more weeds. Talk with your lawn care service to determine the optimal height to mow your sod.
Mowing at the correct height not only prevents weeds from seeding but also ensures your sod is healthy. If mowed too short, the crown of the grass can be damaged. Conversely, if your lawn is allowed to grow too tall, the root system may weaken which can make it susceptible to disease and insects.
Weed control is essential to maintaining a healthy, beautiful lawn. Although herbicides can be successful at controlling weeds, you should not use an herbicide until your sod has firmly rooted, which can take 30 to 60 days. In the meantime, hand pulling weeds can help minimize weeds in your landscape.
If you have any questions about weed control or want professional advice, your lawn care service can help. We understand which herbicides are safe to use on a freshly sodded lawn, proper application practices to minimize overspray, and the best time to apply herbicides for optimal weed control.