How to Care for a New Lawn

Close up of yellow sprinkler attached to green hose watering lawn

New grass care is relatively simple. A new lawn needs just the right amount of water and plenty of rest. It’s a good idea to plan for your watering needs before the lawn is even planted. After all, over- and under-watering are the 2 most common reasons that a new lawn fails to thrive.

Between questions about watering, fertilizing, and mowing, learning how to take care of your new lawn can feel overwhelming. After all, putting in a new lawn is a lot of work. The stakes feel pretty high! Following these precautions will help you know that you’re doing your new lawn care right.

First, minimize play and foot traffic in new and sodded lawns for at least 3 weeks. Second, your new lawn is not hungry. Don’t fertilize it for at least 6 weeks. When you do apply fertilizer, keep it light. You’ll only need a half-pound of nitrogen for every thousand feet. Once your lawn has matured, feel free to use our fertilizing recommendations for established lawns.

Those precautions are the basics for all new lawns, no matter the method of installation. Want to know the difference in how to care for new lawns that have been planted in different ways? Read on for the care plan that’s right for your newly planted grass.

Caring for New Sod

Water your new sod at least twice a day, including once midday. Keep the soil moist to a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Make sure the soil doesn’t stay saturated for long periods of time. Oversaturation can stop the grass from taking root.

After about 2 weeks, once the lawn has begun new roots, reduce watering frequency to every second or third day. After 4 weeks, a sodded lawn can survive for longer periods of time without water

Before mowing, wait until the grass has begun to grow vigorously. This could be as short as ten-days-time. If you use a rotary mower, set the throttle low to avoid lifting and chopping up pieces of sod.

New Grass Care: Seed

Newly seeded lawns need gentle watering. Mist the surface 4 times a day, beginning at sunrise and finishing at twilight. Keep the seedbed moist, but not saturated, to a depth of 1- to 2- inches. When your grass seedlings reach a height of 2-inches, reduce the frequency and increase the depth of the watering.

Is when to cut new planted grass the big question on your mind? There’s more to that answer than you might think. You’ll want to add mowing to your new grass care routine once the grass is 3 or 4 inches tall. Set the throttle of your mower on low to help prevent seedlings from uprooting. The first mowing should only remove ½ or ¾ inches of grass blade, just enough to give your lawn an even appearance. The next time, simply mow to the maximum height recommended for your type of grass. Be sure to refrain from cutting more than 30% of the grass height in a single mowing.

New Lawn Care: Plugs or Sprigs

The watering schedule for plugs and sprigs is similar to how one would care for newly planted sod. Water at least twice a day, including once midday. Keep the soil moist but not saturated to a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Much like sod, if the soil is saturated for too long, the plants may not root. After 2 weeks, you may start to notice new root growth. At that point, reduce watering frequency to every second or third day.

You can cut your grass after it’s grown to a height of 3 or 4 inches, before it falls over in a slight breeze. The throttle should be set on low to prevent the young grass from uprooting. The first time you mow, cut only enough to give your lawn an even look, ¾ inch at the most. The next time, cut the grass to the top height that is recommended for your specific grass. Just remember to refrain from mowing more than 30% of the blade height in a single pass. Once sprigs and plugs are established, regular mowing will encourage lateral spreading.

Toro YardCare: Beyond New Grass Care

Now that you know more about how to take care of new lawns, you’re sure to move into your yard care project with a little more confidence. Toro YardCare has blogs on everything you need to know about landscaping.

Adding a garden? Read about how ornamental grasses are an easy landscaping accent. Or maybe you’re looking for advice on how to maintain your lawn mower before breaking it out in the spring. No matter the landscaping question, our expert advice has your project covered.

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