You’ve just installed your grass, and it’s looking fantastic. Or perhaps, you installed dormant sod during the winter, and you’re watching as your grass finally greens up and takes root.
But now you have questions because it’s your first time with a newly sodded lawn. While you may be experienced caring for an established lawn, caring for a new lawn in its first year is a little different.
In this blog we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about caring for your lawn in its first growing season.
If you're wondering what growing season is for your grass type, see below:
- Bermuda - spring and summer
- Centipede - spring and summer
- Zoysia - spring and summer
- Tall Fescue - fall and winter
Should I aerate my new sod?
Aerating is a wonderful practice for ensuring your lawn can get enough air flow so that water and nutrients will easily reach the roots of your grass. However, you won’t need to aerate your new sod for at least a year after it’s installed. If the sod isn’t established enough, aerating will rip up the roots of the grass. Because you tilled the soil before you installed the sod, the ground shouldn’t be too compacted and you’ll have sufficient air flow for the first growing season.
Can I apply pre-emergent to my new lawn?
Pre-emergent herbicide prevents weeds by stopping them before they have a chance to germinate. Unfortunately, this also means pre-emergent can adversely affect the roots of sod that isn’t established. We recommend waiting a full growing season after install before applying pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn.
How soon can I apply a post-emergent spot weed killer?
When you till up the soil to lay sod, you’ll no doubt be exposing thousands of weed seeds to sunlight. You’re likely to see weeds you haven’t seen before because they’ve been lying dormant in wait of the perfect conditions to grow.
Unfortunately, they’ll show their nasty heads through your brand new grass. You can’t prevent them by applying pre-emergent herbicide (see above), but you can spot treat with a post-emergent herbicide only after you’ve mowed your grass at least 3-4 times.
When can I apply fertilizer to my new lawn?
During the installation process, you should’ve run a soil test and tilled the appropriate soil amendments into your native soil before laying the sod. If you did not do so, we recommend you go ahead and take a soil test to determine the nutrients your soil needs. Then, apply our 5-10-15 + Iron starter fertilizer at a rate appropriate to the results of this test.
After this initial application, we recommend you follow the fertilizer schedule that coincides with your grass type and can be found in our lawn maintenance guides.
How soon can I mow my lawn after installation?
You can mow your new lawn earlier than you think. In fact, you need to!
Start mowing as soon as your sod has started growing and there’s something to cut. Make sure it has rooted to the extent that mowing does not shift the sod. Give the corners of your sod a healthy tug to make sure roots are at least gently tacking down the sod before running your mower over it. This is especially important on slopes to prevent the new sod from shifting while you mow.
It is important that you don’t put off mowing too long. Cut high the first time, but gradually and deliberately lower the cut-height of your mower. Never mow off more than 1/3 of the blade at once. This is called scalping, and it will make your new, green grass turn an unfavorable brown color.
What does established mean?
Finally, you’ll see a lot of talk from us in our monthly lawn tips and other Super-Sod blogs about established lawns. Established simply means that your grass has been rooted for a while, typically an entire growing season. (Growing season = Spring and summer for Bermudas, Zoysias, and Centipedes. Fall and winter for Fescue.) Keep this in mind when following maintenance recommendations.
Ask your questions
If you didn’t see your question covered in this guide, comment below so we can help you and other lawn owners!