When to Mow New Sod (For the First Time)

Mowing helps grass to grow vigorously, strong and dense. New lawns need adequate time for their roots to become established before they can be mowed for the first time. This duration varies depending on your grass species, method used for planting and weather conditions. This is a guide on when to mow a new sod.

A new sod may be ready for mowing within 2 to 3 weeks of installation. Be sure that the roots are firmly established in the soil before you mow to avoid tearing out or destabilizing the new turf. Your lawn mower blades should be sharp and well-adjusted to the recommended height of your grass species.

When to Mow New Sod – Guide

A new sod typically roots between 10 and 14 days of installation. Since new grass establish based on the species of the turf and the prevailing weather conditions, the first mowing should be approximately 14 days after the sod installation. By this time, your sod will be deeply rooted and won’t easily get stressed.

Do not just run your lawn mower when at the sight of green sod. You have to ensure that your turf is firmly rooted on the ground. You can check this by trying to pull gently in one corner of the sod. Next, your new grass should be tall enough to avoid cutting off more than 1/3 of the height of grass blades.

You also have to ensure that your grass is fairly dry before mowing. Cutting wet grass is harmful to your lawn and the mowing equipment as well. When to grass is wet, the ground becomes softer and the weak grass roots can be torn out by the sliding mower tires.

When mowing a new sod for the first time, you also have to sharpen and set your mower blade to the recommended cutting height for your turf species as illustrated in the chart below.

Warm season grasses mowing height chart

Turf GrassMowing Height (Inches)
Bermuda grass1 “ – 2.5 “
St. Augustine grass2.5” – 4”
Centipede grass1” – 1.5”
Buffalo grass2” – 3”
Zoysiagrass1” – 2.5”
Bahiagrass3” – 4”
Seashore Paspalum1” – 2”

Cool season grasses mowing height chart

Turf GrassMowing Height (Inches)
Kentucky Bluegrass2” – 3”
Perennial Ryegrass2” – 3”
Tall Fescue3” – 4”
Fine Fescue2” – 3”

Tip: Since you are mowing your new sod for the first time, let the lawn grow to the high end of the recommended mowing height range or even a little higher before cutting. At this point, your grass will be properly established to withstand mowing.

Once done mowing, you don’t have to water immediately if your lawn is already sufficiently watered. But if you walk across your lawn and your footprints stay on the grass, this is a sign that your lawn need water. Don’t water if you don’t notice any footprints, you can hold for a day or two.

New sod care and maintenance tips

Sodding is the quickest way of starting a new lawn. However, the end results will typically depend on how you have cared for your newly installed grass. Here is a maintenance schedule for your new sod:

Keep off the lawn

Once the installation of the sod is done, you have to keep everyone off the site including kids and pets. Any foot traffic will easily damage the grass before it establish. This has to go all the way up to the first mowing.

Appropriate watering

On the first day of installation, thoroughly water the new sod until water penetrates the sod and two inches of the top soil. From the second day onwards, simply water to keep the sod and soil under it moist. Do not overwater to make your lawn soggy as this will cut supply of air to the delicate roots.

Ideally water the sod 4 to 6 six times during the day, for approximately 5 to 6 minutes each time until when the roots are established. This watering schedule may be adjusted depending on the type of soil as long as there is no water left standing under the sod for more than 5 minutes after the irrigation is stopped.

Further, avoid watering new sod late in the evening after 6 pm. Irrigating your lawn this time will invite fungus problems. Watering cycles should be reduced as you approach your first mowing. This will firm up the soil and make your lawn ready for mowing.

After three week or when you have done your first mowing, you should reduce the number of time you water your lawn. By now, the roots are established and reducing watering will help them to stretch deeper into the soil. When you hit the 5th week, you should only be watering once per day.

In the 6th week, the grass roots will be fully established and deeper into the soil. By this time, watering can be done once every other day. Beyond this period, your grass can now survive on little water that is available and you will end up watering twice a week unless there is drought or hot summer.

Proper fertilizing

Fertilizing soil before laying the sod encourages faster growth and establishment of a lawn. Fertilize your new sod five to six weeks after installation. This will strengthen the plant and encourage further development of the roots.

A starter fertilizer with an adequate amount of phosphorus is important at this initial stage. you should fertilize new sod before laying it based on recommendations of your soil test. Incorrect fertilizer application can lead to burning of the young grass or pollution to the environment.

Weed/pest control

Weeds can be controlled as soon as the new sod has established roots. This can be anywhere from the 4th week. Always use weed control products formulated for your grass type. Apply as directed. After your lawn has endured four to five mowing, you can confidently apply any pest control treatment that might be required.

Final Thought

Mowing is essential for growth and establishment of a lawn. Cutting of grass increases its density and tolerance to elements. This works when you know when to mow a new sod, plugs or stolons. In addition to mowing, new grass needs proper care then involves adequate watering, fertilizing and weed or pest controls.

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