How Long to Stay Off New Sod
It can be tough to resist the temptation of trampling all over your fresh new sod installation. After all, it’s just so tempting to take a walk or run on that soft, green carpet. However, if you want your sod to grow strong and healthy, you need to stay off it for a while – and we’re not talking about a few days! In this guide, we’ll tell you how long you should wait before venturing onto your new sod.
How long to stay off new sod?
New sod has a delicate root structure that needs time to take hold in the soil. Even with proper irrigation, you need to wait until the roots are firmly established before allowing heavy foot traffic on your lawn. The exact amount of time you must wait depends on the weather, your watering schedule and other factors — but resist the temptation to walk on sod until it is fully rooted.
Even with extensive irrigation, it’s necessary to wait at least one week before walking on new sod. If there’s been a lot of rain or if you’ve been watering heavily, you can walk on sod after five days. Do not water heavily unless the sod is drying out and wilting — overwatering will lead to disease, fungus and root rot, which can kill your new sod.
The first week
Water new sod once in the morning and once in the evening during the first week after installation. Keep off the grass for at least 24 hours after installation and minimize foot traffic for one week. Don’t mow your lawn until after two weeks when it is rooted firmly into place. If you have pets, keep them off the lawn for at least three days so their paws don’t tear up or damage new sod. Once the sod is established, you can return to normal activities.
You need to give new sod time to establish a deep root system so it can survive heat and drought. Avoid driving or parking on new sod for at least two weeks after installation. If you have an irrigation system, make sure the heads aren’t broken or damaged before turning on the water. Be careful not to overwater your lawn — too much water will kill new sod by causing disease and rot.
Best practices for a new lawn
- If you can’t avoid walking on your new sod for some reason during this time period, limit your activity as much as possible by planting a stepping-stone path through your yard and walking only on those stones.
- After a week, begin limiting your activities on the new sod to gentle play or mowing if necessary. You can still walk through the grass with shoes on, but avoid any heavy activity for at least two weeks after installation. This will give your new sod the best chance to establish a deep, strong root system. If you have pets, keep them off the grass for at least two weeks as well.
- After two weeks, you can use your lawn as normal but avoid any activities that could compact the soil, such as playing games that involve running or digging. Once your lawn has been established for several months, it will be much more resistant to wear and tear.
- Water thoroughly and frequently. New sod needs to establish its root system quickly so that it starts feeding from the soil instead of from water stored in its leaves. Watering deeply and frequently will help push those roots down into the soil where they need to be for long-term survival.
- Mow when needed but with care. You should mow your new sod when it’s about 3 inches tall; however, wait until the roots have established to do so. This means waiting a little longer than normal just in case – as long as 4 weeks before the first mow is ideal. When you do mow, use a sharp blade set to the highest setting and be careful not to scalp the grass. Scalping will damage the new sod and make it more susceptible to disease.
- Fertilize regularly but lightly. Fertilizing helps new sod get off to a good start by giving it the nutrients it needs to grow strong and healthy. However, too much fertilizer can damage new sod, so err on the side of caution and use a light hand when applying it. Once your lawn is established, you can increase the amount of fertilizer you use if necessary.
As a general rule of thumb, you should stay off your new sod for at least two weeks. This will give the roots time to establish themselves and help prevent any damage to your new lawn.
After two weeks, you can slowly start reintroducing activity onto the lawn. Begin by walking on it lightly and gradually increase traffic as time goes on. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your new sod has a strong foundation and will be able to withstand regular use.