It might surprise you to learn that you need to start watering your new sod lawn before the installers put a single piece of turf in place. Getting sufficient water onto new sod, and keeping it moist during the first two weeks after it's installed, are critical to ensuring that it will flourish on your property.
Rather than planting grass seed and waiting hopefully for it to grow into a beautiful lawn, many people now opt to cover their property with sod, which are pieces of turf cut from sod fields and transplanted elsewhere. Sod farmers raise grass from seed in big fields, where they carefully water and mow it till it's ready to be moved to someone's home or business. When a customer orders sod, the farmers cut through the roots of the grass, all the way down to the soil beneath it, and then pull the sod up. They slice the sod into wide strips, roll them up like rugs, and transport the sections to their new home.
Buying and installing sod is more expensive than just planting grass seed, but sod's main advantage is that it creates a beautiful lawn instantly. There's no waiting for seed to sprout, no fighting off the birds that want to eat the seed, no mud or dirt tracked into the house while you're waiting for the grass to grow.
Watering Before Installation
Installing a sod lawn is convenient, but don't let its good looks fool you—sod requires care, especially when it's just been put down. Most importantly, you need to water sod, and that obligation starts before the installers put a single section down on your property.
When the farmers cut the sod, they inevitably cut through some of the roots in the process. Then, while the sod is rolled up prior to installation, the roots will start to dry out, so you must give them a damp, welcoming environment immediately. Most sod vendors recommend soaking the ground where it will be installed to a depth of 3 inches, which may mean you'll have to water 24 to 48 hours before the sod is delivered. When the installers place the sod over the wet soil, the roots cool off and they can then absorb water more efficiently.
Watering During Installation
Then, as the installers finish laying sections of the sod, set up sprinklers and water it thoroughly, soaking all the way through the sod and into the ground beneath it. Keep adding sprinklers as the installers finish putting sections down. After they're done, let the water run until you've soaked both sod and soil thoroughly.
Watering During the Next Two Weeks
Once all the new sod is in place, and you've given it its initial big dose of water, continue to water it regularly and well. According to some vendors, most homeowners water their sod lawns too often, but not deeply enough. The first two weeks after installation are critical, so water the sod long enough that the water gets down to the roots and the soil underneath them.
Never let the sod dry out completely. If it's not getting enough water, sod will turn brown. This doesn't mean that it's past saving, but it does mean you better get out there with the lawn sprinklers and protect your investment.
Cheyenne Cartwright has worked in publishing for more than 25 years. She has served as an editor for several large nonprofit institutions, and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including "Professional Bull Rider Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oklahoma Christian University and a Master of Arts in English from the University of Tulsa.