While there are many factors that affect post-installation care, the initial watering is the most important concern. Water is essential to all life - too little water and we die, too much and we drown. The same is true of the turfgrass in our lawns.
Proper watering immediately after installation and during the first few weeks following will ensure the turfgrass gets established. It will also have an impact on how well the lawn continues to flourish for years to come. Though watering needs vary when establishing a lawn depending on the method of installation, these irrigation issues apply to all newly installed lawns. Begin watering within a half hour after it is laid on the soil. Apply at least 1 inch (2 to 3 cm) of water so that the soil beneath the turf is very wet. Ideally, the soil 3 to 4 inches (7 to 10 cm) below the surface should be moist. Whether working with an in-ground irrigation system or above-ground, hose-end sprinklers check for uniform water distribution all across the new lawn. Dry spots may take several days to appear, and if you aren’t looking for these problems you could have dead grass in those areas. Overly wet spots could drown out the young turfgrass or lead to disease issues. Weather conditions will dictate the amount and frequency of watering the newly installed lawn. Be certain that your new lawn has enough moisture to survive in hot, dry, or windy periods. You will need to water more frequently in areas beside driveways, sidewalks and other hardscape features, and near buildings, because these reflect heat that dries the turfgrass. Water as early in the morning as possible to take advantage of the daily start of the turfgrass’s normal growing cycle. There usually will be lower wind speeds and lower temperatures, reducing water loss to evaporation.As a new lawn begins to grow, lower the frequency of watering and increase the amount of water.
After 4 to 6 weeks, treat watering of the new lawn the same as watering of an established lawn. If the temperature approaches 100°F (37°C ), or high winds are constant for more than half of the day, reduce the temperature of the turf surface by lightly sprinkling the area. This sprinkling does not replace the need for longer, deeper watering, which will become even more critical to continue during adverse weather conditions. Runoff may occur on some soil types and sloped areas before the soil is adequately moist. To conserve water and ensure adequate soak-in, turn off the water when runoff begins. Wait 30-minutes to an hour and restart the watering on the same area. Repeat this start and stop process until proper soil moisture is achieved.
For two weeks following the sod installation, keep the below-turf soil surface moist with daily watering, or more frequent watering if weather conditions are drying. No matter what type of installation method was used, once the new turfgrass is well established, most lawns will grow very well with a maximum total of one inch (2.5 cm) of water a week. This amount may come either from rain, applied water, or a combination of the two. This amount of water, properly and evenly applied, will saturate the underlying soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm). For established lawns, Infrequent and deep watering is preferred to frequent and shallow watering because the turfgrass roots will only grow as deeply as their most frequently available water supply. Deeply rooted turfgrass has a larger "soil-water bank" to draw moisture from and this will help the grass survive drought and hot weather that rapidly dries out the upper soil layer.
Mowing is always a stress on the grass plants. Just because they can tolerate mowing does not mean they like it. Reduce that stress by adopting these practices. Mowing during the heat of the day can cause the plant to go into shock. Mow the young turfgrass as soon as it is rooted and reaches mowing height for that species. Then mow regularly during the establishment period, making sure the mower blade is sharp, and removing no more than one-third of the grass blade in any one mowing, cutting your lawn too short creates an environment for both weed and disease infestation. It also causes the lawn to lose moisture much quicker. It is best to mow your lawn prior to watering, when the grass is dry, your mower will work better and there is less likelihood that disease will be spread from plant to plant. Leave your grass clippings on the lawn. This is called grasscycling, recycling, or mulching. Clippings are full of nutrients and can actually reduce your need for fertilizers by as much as 25%. Grass clippings readily break down and will only cause an issue if the quantity is excessive. Following these steps will help the establishment of your new sod and will encourage a stronger root system.
This information provided by The Lawn Institute – www.TheLawnInstitute.org
For additional information on installation and care instructions for your new turfgrass, please go to the following link: