Instant Grasstification, now what?

1. First day watering – Check your new sod a few hours after it has been laid by walking on it. If you make deep footprints, it has enough water. If the soil is firm, lift a corner of the sod to inspect. The soil on the back of the sod should be damp to wet. If it is not damp, water at least 30 minutes. If you have a sprinkler system run a manual cycle again until it is damp.
2. Second through fifth day watering – Check your lawn at least one time per day or more than once if it is hot or windy. Walk on the new lawn and inspect it. If the soil is soft and you make deep footprints, or water has puddled in areas, it is too wet and you should stop watering for awhile and reduce the amount of future watering. If the soil is firm, lift a corner of several pieces of sod. The soil should be damp, not dripping wet or dusty dry. Areas where the grass has wilted or turned straw color have not received enough water. Water more often to correct this. Under watered sod usually will turn green again in seven days or so if corrective measures were taken soon enough. Temperatures above 80 generally mean more water is needed, and below 60 mean less water is needed. In the cooler months of March, April, October and November, sod needs much less water.

3. Further watering – After five days or so, the soil has soaked up water like a sponge and you must reduce your watering habits. Begin stretching out the time between watering.
4. Mowing – Mow your new grass when it needs it. Arrange it so you do not water just before mowing to prevent the making of footprints.
5. Fertilization – Do not apply any fertilizer for at least three weeks after installation. Then, fertilize by the program you have selected.
6. Herbicides – Do not apply any crabgrass herbicides for at least one year after installation.

Long term sod care
1. Mowing – From May through mid September, mow at 2 ½ to 3 inches high. From mid September through November, gradually lower the height of each mowing to a final height of 1 ½ inches. Mowing short all year long is bad for your grass.
2. Clippings – It is an option not to collect clippings. Clippings do not add to the thatch but do recycle nutrients to the soil.
3. Watering – Most people tend to over water, even if they have an automatic sprinkler system. Lawns usually need to be watered only from June through early September. During these months, a lawn may need 1-1 ½ inches of water per week, depending on soil type, rooting depth and rainfall received. Water when the soil is dry 5 inches deep, not when a timer says so or when other people water. Water long enough to wet the soil 5 inches deep and wait to water again until the soil is dry down 5 inches. This is watering deeply and infrequently, ten or twenty minutes of watering daily on a healthy lawn is wrong and will cause serious problems. This encourages hardier grass with a deeper root system. You can use a garden trowel or screwdriver to dig or poke in the ground to determine how dry the soil is. How long you water to wet down 5 inches depends on how much your system applies. Experiment with your system to see how much it applies. A lawn can be watered anytime of the day, but it is best to avoid watering in the late afternoon and early evening.
4. Fertilization – It is important to fertilize by a program, whether you hire the work done or do it yourself. Contact one of the many commercial applicators or visit one of the stores in the area that sell a fertilizer program.
Finding an exact match of the numbers on the bag is not essential. If you have extra high expectations for your lawn, it is a good idea to have your soil tested periodically to see if any specific nutrients are needed.