How much should I water?
Written By Peter Honeycutt
The establishment of your new sod lawn is easy! Sod should be laid on your dry soil the very day it arrives. If temperatures are above 80° the soil should be moistened the day before to cool soil temperatures.
BEFORE LAYING: DO NOT OVER WATER
So you or the installers are not working in muddy conditions. After the sod is installed the initial watering should soak the sod and hydrate the soil. All you have to do is water it and stay off. Keep the lawn moist at all times, preferably by frequent light sprinklings. The watering process should be repeated three times a day during the hottest months of the year, 80°plus, at approximately 8 AM, 11 AM and 2 PM (early, mid- morning and early afternoon), every day. A fourth watering may be added if necessary. DON’T LET THE LAWN DRY OUT!!! Remember the key is to KEEP IT MOIST, NOT SOAKED. Too much water causes algae and fungus.
Day 1 As soon as you have laid your sod, you are going to want to water it. That first watering should be about 45- 60 minutes depending on how hot it is outside, and if you have rotors or pop-up irrigation heads. (45 mins for pop-ups and 60 mins for rotors approximately.) You will water your lawn two more times that same day. These times for only 15-20 minutes each approximately. Please be sure that your water is being fully absorbed by the lawn and is not soggy boggy wet. (we are not flooding it, we just want to keep it evenly moist.) Note: If you have a large amount of sod that you will be laying all in one day we recommend that you start watering your lawn in large sections so that by the end of the day your first few rolls have not dried out. This is especially helpful when it is really hot outside
First 2 Weeks The key to establishing new sod is to keep it properly watered for the first month. Immediately after installing sod, water thoroughly makes it spongy to the step. The new sod should be kept thoroughly wet to a depth of 3" to 4" and watered 2 to 3 times a day during the first 7 to 14 days depending on the season. Lift a corner of the sod to determine the depth of moisture. In the first week, it is very important to keep the new sod damp. During this time stay off the sod so it can take root and you do not sink in and leave depressions from your footsteps. During hot weather, sprinklers should run several times a day so the new sod never dries out. If allowed to dry out, the sod will shrink, brown, and can die. The roots of your new sod will penetrate the soil faster and root down sooner if properly watered. At the end of week 2, dry up the yard enough so you can mow.
Weeks 3 & 4 The following 2 weeks are used to transition from frequent daily watering to fewer cycles per day and increase the number of days between waterings. During week 3, reduce waterings to 1 time per day and skip a day between watering if the new sod is not drying out. By week 4, water one time every other day. After week 4, your new yard should be ready to go 2 to 3 days between watering. Water your lawn in the evening or early morning when less evaporation occurs. To reduce run-off on hills and promote deep root growth, reduce watering times in half. One hour later, run the irrigation cycle again and apply the rest of the water. This allows the water to soak into heavy soils. Rest of the Season
Your new lawn will need more water the first growing season and especially the first 6 months. As roots grow deeper over the course of a year, it will need less water. If your lawn looks dry, it probably needs watering. The key to new sod care during this time is deep watering less frequently. This will help the roots grow down and develop a deep root system that uses less water. It is ok after the first two months to stress your lawn a little. This means let your yard dry out a bit and when you see signs of stress starting to appear, make sure to water. This will also allow you to fine tune the sprinkler system and adjust heads for proper coverage and change nozzles for more or less water in certain spots.