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A variety of new sod questions...confused...


LawnSite Member
First of all, I want to thank the pros and the forum owners for having a homeowner help forum. It's greatly appreciated!

On to the questions...I'm a bit confused as to what to do with a few issues regarding our new sod lawn. The guys that put it in, I think, were winging it a bit.

They took out the old turf and brought in 2-4" of new black dirt (depending on the area) and then laid the sod.

I've been watering twice a day for about 2.5 weeks now.

Today, I mowed, as the grass was getting long and beginning to seed. I mowed it at the highest setting on the mower.

The issues I'm having:

The side yard (which has quite a bit of clay underneath the new 4" of dirt) feels like a water bed. you can walk on it and you one foot will sink raising the other, then you can shift your weight back just like a waterbed. Digging down, it's solid sod sitting on tup of wet mud. I assume I need to let this area dry out a bit and cut down on watering?

Seecond problem is a 30 degree + hill in our back yard. It's about 5' tall. Part of the sod on this hill hasn't rooted much at all, I can still pull back the sod easily and it's a bit dry underneath. From what I can tell, water is just not soaking in here. I assume I need MORE water here, correct?

Other parts of the yard seem OK. So, I'm mainly wondering if my assumptions about the two problem areas are correct or not.

The other bigger question is what is the recommended watering cycle for new sod? Google returns a bunch of sometimes contradictory results.

It sounds like I should keep the sod wet at all times (frequent watering) but I also read that after two weeks I should be cutting down to watering once a day and eventually cutting it down to only 1 or two deep waterings per week. Any professional advice on that?



LawnSite Bronze Member
Yes,yes,and yes,but for the watering,it depends on the area.Keep it wet until it starts to take root.Remember that the only water the sod is getting,is what's in the soil the sod is rooted in.When it starts to root,cut back on the water.


LawnSite Senior Member
Springfield, MO
A few follow up questions from a non-professional who spends a lot of time in the yard.

Did they mix the new topsoil into the existing soil at all? It sounded like not in your message. There's nothing you can do now, but incorporation would have been better than just laying the topsoil on top, creating strata.

Are you watering with sprinklers or an irrigation system? Side yards are often laid out with sprays instead of rotors, in which case if the zones run for the same amount of time, the side yard will get over-watered. Large areas (like possibly your back) usually have rotors, some of which may be on 360 degree rotation, which will always require more time to lay down the same amount of water. Look at your controller and figure out which zones are too wet and which are too dry and tweak the timing of each to get a better balance.

Did the sod get rolled after it was placed? It amazes me how seldom this is done, by people who are supposed to know what they're doing. Get your extremely wet areas dried out a bit and your real dry areas moistened up a little and then rent a roller and roll your sod. It will help incorporate the sod with the topsoil and minimize edge lifting.

On my last house, I trusted my contractor to do the yard. Never again. The guys he hired spent about 5 minutes grading my yard. They spread a pile of gravel over the whole yard instead of picking it up or putting it in the back fill near the house. The sod was dead when they laid it -- the foreman even said so. They didn't roll it -- of course it probably wouldn't have mattered -- it was so dried out. Despite my valiant efforts at CPR, it was just a dead brown carpet. It took me two years of aerating and over-seeding twice a year before I had a yard.

One more thing. If you don't have irrigation, and you can afford it - put it in now. Nothing will help a yard more than controlled irrigation and the disruption to the yard will be easier to fix when the sod isn't knitted to the topsoil.


LawnSite Member
NickN...thanks! The side yard (muddy area) is definitely rooting, so I just need to cut the watering down on that.

Not entirely sure what to do with the hill...I think the issue is that most of the water is just rolling off the hill and not soaking in. I might have to tear up part of that and seed it.

jeffinsgf...no, they tid not till it...just laid the soil on top. One of the reasons for my 'I think they were winging it' comment. ;o)

I'm using sprinklers. All areas are getting the same amount of water, but I think the side yard, being shaded is retaining more.

Rolling? Nope. They didn't do that either. They said watering is all it needs. I decided last week to Roll it myself, though...and is when I discovered the problems with the areas.

Alas, this is the 3rd major issue I've had with 3 separate contractors regarding landscaping in the past two years. $350 of natural plants planted last faull in our front lawn died over the winter. Our new concrete steps (put in last summer) are already cracked. And now the sod issue. *sigh*