Watering Your Sod

Saratoga Sod is cut fresh to order. It is a live, perishable product and must be installed and watered immediately upon delivery.

It is essential to begin watering new sod within a half hour after it is installed. Apply at least 1 inch of water so that the soil beneath is very wet. You don’t want standing water, but the ground should be very soft when you walk on it.

Watering Tips Pull back a corner of sod (before it has knitted in) and insert a screwdriver or other sharp tool into the soil. It should push in easily and have moisture along the first 3-4 inches. If it doesn’t, apply more water. Even after the sod has knitted in, you can still check moisture depth by pushing through the turf into the soil. Make sure that water is getting to all areas of your new lawn; above-ground sprinklers should be moved around to ensure that all areas are covered. Corners and edges can be missed and are particularly vulnerable to drying out faster than the center portion of a lawn. Also, areas near buildings, driveways, and sidewalks dry out faster due to reflected heat, and may require more water. For the next two weeks (or until the turf is well rooted), water the sod daily. Especially hot, dry, or windy periods will necessitate increased watering amounts and frequency. Water as early in the morning as possible, when there is less wind and lower temperatures. This also lets the grass blades air-dry during the day. If the sod requires it, a second watering can be applied again in the afternoon when the grass blades still have time to air dry. It is not recommended to water overnight or in high humidity, as grass blades will remain damp, increasing the chances of disease. During the remainder of the growing season, most lawns will do very well receiving one inch of water a week, either from rainfall or irrigation. The total amount may be applied in two settings, approximately 2-3 days apart. Water should be applied evenly and saturate the underlying soil to a depth of 4-6 inches. Proper watering techniques are critical; equal in importance to timing and quantity of water. Avoid hand-sprinkling because it cannot provide necessary uniformity.

Understand the differences between sprinkler designs; each type has advantages and disadvantages. Several times during the growing/watering season, routine system maintenance of sprinklers is important.

Verifying watering uniformity is simple using 4-6 flat bottomed cans (tuna, cat food, etc), a ruler, and a watch.

Follow these steps:

Arrange the cans at random distances away from sprinklers in the areas being covered.
Run the sprinkler for a specific amount of time, OR until a specific amount is in at least one can.
Measure the amount in each can, checking for uniformity. Some variation is expected, but a difference of 25-30% or more between cans must be addressed by replacing or adjusting the sprinkler or relocating the system.

water your sodFor areas under or near trees, you need to know the water requirements for the specific trees, as well as for the grass. Despite having deep roots, trees take up moisture and nutrients from the top 6 inches of soil...the same area as the grass. Watering sufficiently for the grass may over-water some varieties of trees and under-water others. A common solution is to not plant grass under the drip line of trees, rather use this area for gardens, etc.

The amount of water your lawn requires and receives will determine its overall health, beauty, and ability to withstand use and drought. Keep in mind that too much water can ruin a lawn just as too little water.

One inch a week is a general rule of thumb for watering most established lawns. Watering requirements will vary depending on weather, seasonal changes, different soil types (i.e.: sand vs. clay), and turf grass species.

Look at your lawn to determine its water needs. Grass in need of water will have a grey-blue green color. Also, footprints will still be visible after a half hour or more on a lawn in need of water. On a well-watered lawn, footprints will completely disappear within a few minutes. Inspecting your lawn frequently will help you to detect its water requirements and avoid over- or under-watering.

If you are unable to apply water during hot, dry periods, established lawns will turn brown and go dormant. At this time, keep heavy traffic off the lawn and keep your mowing height high (or don’t mow at all). When cooler temperatures and rainfall return, the grass will “come back”.

The first watering of newly installed sod is the most important and establishes how well the grass will perform for years to come.


New turf grass looks beautiful, but it's not ready for the Super Bowl. Heavy traffic should not be permitted for two weeks following installation. For athletic fields, it is wise to allow at least a month before practicing or competing on the new field.


Your new sod will need to be mowed approximately 1 week after installation. When possible, use a walk-behind power mower, preferably of reel type, with the cutting height set at 2-3 inches. Do not use a riding mower as it is too heavy and its powered wheels will tear up the new sod. After the sod has been established, regular mowing can commence. For best results, never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade per cutting. Cut to 1.5-2 inches in height and maintain sharp mowing blades. Cutting frequency will need to be increased during the faster growing seasons of spring and fall. Grass clippings may be left on the lawn to return nutrients to the root zone.


To ensure that your turf remains healthy, feed your lawn 3-4 times during the growing season.  A slow-release or controlled-release form of Nitrogen should be used whenever possible, but especially on the spring and fall applications.

A good guideline is to fertilize on these holidays...

Holiday                 Suggested Fertilizer (N-P-K)

Memorial Day               30-0-9

Labor Day                      24-0-11

Halloween                     24-0-11

A fourth application in the Spring (April Fool's Day) may be made if a late fall fertilization was not done.

Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations, and completely  "water-in" fertilizer after each application.

In addition to fertilizer, limestone should be used every-other-year after the sod is installed. Testing the soil is recommended to determine the amount of limestone needed, however, a general rule is to apply 50 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft.. This is best applied in late fall.

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"The Growing Preference"
1670 Route 4 · Stillwater, NY 12170
Phone: 518.664.5038 · Fax: 518.664.3559
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