We get asked a lot about watering brand new sod - when? how much?
First thing to keep in mind is that you need to water new sod as you lay it, especially when it's warm out. Before installation day, read our blog post on Watering Sod During Installation.
Here's how to assess the water requirements of new sod.
New Sod Watering Tips
Peel back a corner of your new sod and touch the ground underneath. Water should have penetrated through the soil layer of the new sod and the ground should be moist/wet with a slight “give” when you walk across it.
The goal is to keep new sod "wet like a sponge" until roots form and you feel resistance due to roots tacking your new sod to the ground.
To keep the ground wet under your new sod, you'll need to water at least once every morning (example: 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on your water pressure), with possibly 1-2 more watering cycles throughout the day depending on grass type and climate. These supplemental, afternoon watering cycles are meant to keep your grass continually moist for the first 2-3 weeks until well rooted, and will likely be in the range of 15-20 minutes per cycle. You should be able to walk across your lawn feeling a slight “give.” If your lawn is squishy, you’re leaving footprints, or you have water running out from underneath the sod, you’ll want to gradually reduce your watering times.
The timetable will vary for root formation: it could take 2-3 weeks of daily watering in the heat of summer or as long as the entire winter if you've laid dormant sod.
As you keep peeling up a corner (check different corners each time), you'll start to see white roots and it will get harder and harder to pull up a corner. When you can no longer pull up a corner, it's time to ease up on watering, but don't stop - over the next several weeks gradually wean off the intense watering. In the end, an established lawn will require 1" of water per week for warm season grasses and up to 2" per week for tall fescue.
Pro Details on How to Water New Sod:
- Heat transfers from paved surfaces and will dry out adjacent new sod much faster than the rest of the new yard. For this reason, pay close attention to the watering needs of newly laid sod around driveways and sidewalks.
- Sometimes rain does not provide enough water. Get a rain gauge to measure how much it actually rains in a storm. Continue to sample under random sod rolls to see if, thanks to the rain, the ground is actually wet under the sod. If it's wet; it rained enough. If it's dry; get out the sprinkler and water even if it "rained" that day.
- Look out your window - if it's a cloudy and slightly cooler day, your new sod will dry out slower. Get out there and peel back a corner to observe first hand if your lawn is drying out as quickly as on a sunny day, or not.
- Check your new sod for moisture several times a day - at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon. If you see it quickly drying out, then scout more often and water more often.
- In high heat temperatures, especially with tall fescue, brand new sod may need to be watered 2-3 times a day to keep it moist.
Watering New Dormant Sod
Instructions on how to water dormant sod can be found toward the bottom of this page about installing dormant sod.