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Spring Lawn Care: How To Water New Sod

This is the time of year to start working on your lawn. The weather is perfect for lawn care, including the installation of new lawns. The installation is an easy home improvement project but it is critical to keep your new lawn watered correctly. Follow our intructions below for a successful installation.


  • The first watering on the first day is most important. Immediately after the sod is laid, saturate with 1½” – 2” of water. (1 ½ - 2 hours with oscillator or 3 – 4 hours with pulsator, to a depth of 4” – 6” below the sod. You must have all sod that was laid in any one day, thoroughly saturated that same day.
  • Water everyday for 7-8 days. After the 7-8 days, let the it dry out for 1 day, then mow the lawn, and then water every day for 3 days.
  • Do not water 24-48 hours before the first mowing, this lack of water will encourage the roots to go into the soil and the ground to solidify before traveling (walking) on it.
  • To get a feel of how much and how long to water, set a coffee can or small straight sided jar under the sprinkler and time how long it takes to apply 1” – 2” inches of water.


  • The proper amount of moisture will cause the sod to be moist clear through and sod2penetrate the soil a couple of inches. To check – lift a corner of the sod and see if the soil beneath the sod is wet. If too much water is applied the ground will be soggy and foot traffic will leave indentations. If sufficient water is applied the sod first wilts, then turns brown. The proper amount of water will cause the ground to be a little soft but will still permit foot traffic. *Over watering will turn the sod yellow/green. Pay particular attention to the edges, which dry out quickly. Make sure that when watering there is a proper overlapping pattern to avoid dry spots and corners.


  • It is OK to water anytime of the day or night. You should water extra heavy in hot, dry weather. Water for 7 – 8 days, then let dry out for 1 – 2 days, then mow the new grass, then water again for 3 more days. When it is very hot, windy and/or sunny, water in the heat of the day to cool the new sod and soil.


  • It is best to use a lightweight rotary mower set to a height of at least 2” – 2 ½”. Clippings should be caught with a catcher or removed to avoid smothering the tender sod.


  • By this time the sod should be knitting down (rooting) and the watering can be reduced. Just keep sod slightly moist until the fourth cutting at which point treat it pretty much like any established lawn. Allow the ground to dry to the point of cracking slightly and then water fairly heavily. One inch of water per week in the form of rain or sprinkling is about right. It is better to apply this one-inch in one or two applications rather than several sparse sprinklings. The object is to keep as little moisture as possible in the surface where the shallow rooted weeds like to grow. At the same time the grass roots are forced to penetrate deeply to seek moisture.


  • Protect your investment, get good quality sprinklers and plenty of good quality hose. With proper care both will last for years.
  • For a rough guideline, here is what we recommend as minimum equipment to sprinkle a typical 10,000 sq. ft. lot:
    • 2 adjustable oscillating sprinklers
    • 1 - 50 ft. soaker hose
    • enough hose to reach the furthest corner of the front & rear lawns simultaneously
    • 2 timers
    • 2 small plastic shut-offs to place between the hose and the sprinkler (these make it easy to change sprinkler positions)


  • Never water by hand if you can use a sprinkler. Not many people have the time or patience to hold a sprinkler hose for as long as is usually necessary.
  • When setting sprinklers, start with the furthest corner of the yard. Moving of the sprinkler may then be accomplished by pulling on the hose rather than walking in the freshly watered area.
  • Be sure that the corners and edges are thoroughly watered. Overlap so that there are no gaps in the areas being watered. Pay particular attention to areas along sidewalks, driveways and paved areas as they retain heat and withdraw moisture.
  • Use timers to shut water off at night or any time it cannot be turned off manually. This will permit extra sprinkling settings without tying you down so much.

Learn more about Lawn Care, including weed control and fertilization by downloading our FREE lawn care guide.
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