When Is the Best Time to Mow New Sod?
Sod may seem like an instant solution to create a green, beautiful lawn. But if you've ever sat on your hands waiting for the sod to take root, you know that isn't always the case.
Waiting for the sod to become established can feel like an eternity, but the results are worth the wait. We've received a lot of questions about when it's the appropriate time to mow new sod, and our lawn care experts have more than a few thoughts on the subject.
New Sod Care
The first two weeks after laying sod are crucial to the success of your new grass, and caring for sod is especially important in these early stages. Mowing will do more harm than good if you do it before sod takes root, so don't worry about firing up the lawn mower for the first couple weeks. Instead, focus on caring for the sod, especially making sure it gets enough water:
- Stay off the sod for approximately two weeks after laying it. Putting your weight (or the weight of a lawn mower) on new sod can damage the turf.
- You can go over sod with a lawn roller immediately after it is installed to eliminate air pockets and help the native soil adhere to the sod. This will encourage it to take root faster.
- Water is extremely important in the early stages of sod taking root, starting on day one. Immediately after laying sod, water it thoroughly enough that the native soil beneath the sod is soaked to a depth of two inches.
- After the first day, continue to water the sod enough to keep it moist throughout the day, but take care to avoid over-watering. Except for the first day, the soil beneath the sod should not be allowed to get soggy. Too much water can rob the roots of oxygen and kill the grass.
- Unlike watering established grass, sod fares better if you water it a little bit at a time throughout the day rather than giving it a large amount of water all at once. Water the sod four to six times during the day, for approximately five to six minutes each time.
- Avoid watering in the evening, which can promote the development of fungus.
- After two weeks, gradually reduce the frequency of watering. As the roots take hold, you can transition to watering the sod fewer times per day, while giving it more water each time.
Mowing New Sod
Once the sod has firmly taken root, you can start mowing, but it's still important to tread lightly and be careful not to damage the grass. As a general rule, it's better to wait a little longer and let the grass grow rather than mow too soon and risk damaging the sod. Keep a few things in mind when you start mowing:
- It's usually safe to mow two weeks after laying new sod, or when the new grass has grown to a height of 3.5 inches.
- The exact time it takes for the sod to be ready to mow varies, so make sure the roots of your sod have taken hold before mowing (it could be ready to mow sooner than two weeks, or it might take even longer depending on the conditions). You can test whether the roots are solidly attached to the native soil by gently tugging on the sod; if the roots are established you will feel resistance. Test all of the sod before mowing, not just one spot.
- Reduce irrigation before mowing sod for the first time. When you mow, the turf should be dry to the touch and solid enough that you can walk on it without sinking in.
- The first few times you mow new sod, use only a push mower. Lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers are too heavy to mow new sod and can cause damage, especially when turning.
- After you have mowed three or four times with a push mower, it is generally safe to start mowing your sod with a lawn tractor or zero-turn mower.
- Do not cut off more than 1/3 of the grass blades, or cut the grass shorter than 2 inches the first few times you mow.
- Take special care when making turns with your lawn mower to avoid damaging the sod.
- Keep mower blades sharp to cut the grass cleanly.
Looking for more information on when to mow your lawn after laying new sod? Contact us today to find a Hustler dealer near you, and talk to a local lawn expert about achieving grass perfection!