If you are planning on purchasing sod for your lawn, it is the best way to get a thick, luscious lawn quickly and easily. Read along for our most important tips for sod aftercare.
Choose the right grass type for your location
Make sure to consider the type of grass to determine the best time to install your sod. You can install sod anytime you want, but try to avoid the extreme heat of the summer months. Spring or fall are optimum times of year for sod installation.
For cool-season grass such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, the best time to install sod is during early fall or spring. Planting these during the fall will allow roots to develop before the next summer. During spring and summer, some cool-season sod may not survive well in the first year due to drought conditions and it may not grow new roots until air and soil temperatures cool. It is important to provide proper irrigation if sod is installed during summer until new roots are well established. Dormant sodding or installing sod during winter is riskier than doing it during fall due to the risk of winter desiccation and injury.
For warm-season grasses such as zoysiagrass and bermudagrass, sodding can be done at any time of the year but the best time would be early summer. From early to midsummer, roots grow rapidly as grasses are growing actively. Planting during summer gives warm-season grasses time to develop and establish roots before winter comes. Dormant installation during winter is also risky due to winter desiccation and injury.
Tips on purchasing the best quality sod
Before the scheduled delivery of sod, make sure that the installation site is ready and you are able to water right after installation of sod. It is highly recommended to have a sprinkler system in place. If you are going to invest the money and time installing sod, you should have a working sprinkler, otherwise, you may be risking killing your sod before it has had a chance to set its roots.
Make sure that the sod ordered is the one you requested; it should all have the same color, height, and leaf texture.
There should be no weeds, insects, and diseases in the sod delivered.
Sod should have a uniform thickness and should be cut to a depth of about .5 to .75 inches of soil. The texture of sod soil should match the area where it will be installed
Sod should be moist upon delivery. It should be within 24 hours of harvest that delivery and installation of sod happens.
How to determine the size of your lawn
It is important to know the size of the lawn to be sodded to determine how much sod and nutrients you will need. Usually, sod is sold by the square foot. Calculate the lawn area so that you will know how many square feet of sod you need to order. A pallet of sod usually contains about 450-500 square feet of sod. Add at least 10 percent more in the order as a buffer in case of miscalculation of the area or any wastage when cutting sod around corners and edges.
How to care for new sod
1. Soil Testing
Before installing sod, it is important to do a soil test. Soil tests help you determine your soil pH, and micronutrients, phosphorus, and potassium levels in the soil. Carefully plan and perform soil testing at least a month before the installation of sod. This gives you time to wait for the results and time to apply any needed nutrients. The soil should be fertile to allow for optimum sod growth. If there is a need to add topsoil, this too must be included in the soil testing. Collect a composite sample from ten different locations in the area to be sodded, collect samples from the upper 4-6 inches of soil and place them in a plastic bucket. Air dry the collected samples and mix thoroughly.
You can apply a humic acid product, such as Root Hume to help with nutrient uptake within the soil.
When the sod has rooted well, it is time to begin mowing. On the first few mowings and to avoid scalping the newly sodded lawn, start by mowing slightly higher than the desired height. Also, use a sharp mower blade so as not to pull the grass or tear it.
Keep the newly installed sod moist at all times. It usually takes at least 10 days for the sod to become rooted. Water it thoroughly and keep it irrigated every morning. Water multiple times a day during warm and dry periods. During late fall or early spring and mid-summer, sod may take longer to root. Check rooting progress by grabbing a corner of a strip of sod and lifting. White roots are the new roots while older roots will be brown. Once there are new roots, this means that the sod is close to being established. Decrease the frequency of watering but increase the amount of water per application. If temperatures are optimal and sod is kept moist, most grasses will be well rooted within 10-14 days. Dormant sod needs to be kept moist. One of the reasons why dormant sod is unsuccessful is lack of irrigation. Throughout the winter, monitor soil moisture until early spring when new roots have developed.
4. Applying Fertilizer
Applying the right fertilizer is vital for turf. Nitrogen fertilizer is required for new sod. Nitrogen can’t be accurately assessed using soil tests, unlike phosphorus and potassium. A good dose of nitrogen will help your sod after it becomes established. A month after installation, a follow-up application may be needed. If sod is planted in summer, you should use less nitrogen. If sod is planted during winter, then delay the nitrogen application until April or May. But a good target rate after planting is one pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet. Fertilization should only occur before the sod is planted (if amending soil due to the results of. a soil test) or once the roots have been established. Fertilizing too early can result in shallow root growth.
Avoid Common Mistakes
The following are common mistakes when establishing a lawn using sod.
- Sod edges receive inadequate irrigation during summer. Make sure that even the edges are well irrigated otherwise this can cause the grasses to dry up and die.
- Dormant sodded areas lack irrigation. Even dormant sod must be kept moist or else it will not grow successfully.
- Spacing of sod seams is poor. When sod seams are overlapping or have too much space between sods, this can cause desiccation.
- Installation of sod is more than 24 hours after it was harvested. Always buy freshly harvested sod. Uninstalled sod which was harvested more than 24 hours prior, usually dries up due to waiting.
- Allowing people to step on the grass too soon after installation. Keep people off the newly planted grass for three to four weeks to allow roots to be well anchored.
Following these tips will help ensure proper installation of sod, and that the sod flourishes. Opting for a newly sodded lawn overseeding is the quickest way to a thicker lawn, but you have to make sure to follow all directions from the sod company, and to be patient and not mow sod too early!