Correct Maintenance And Care Of New Lawns
Installing a new lawn is always a big undertaking for us all, be it in time, labor, and expense. As the old saying goes “nothing of worth comes easily”, which is also true for our new lawns. After all, with this one act of laying a new lawn, we will be wanting to live with the benefits and the beauty of that lawn for many years or decades into the future. Laying new sod correctly is an enormous factor in this hopeful future we have for our lawns. However, once the sod is laid, or the lawn seed sown, how we care for these new lawns in the weeks and months after their first establishment, is critical. New lawns require some special care to ensure any sod sets down its roots properly, that seed establishes with the best results, that the lawn isn’t accidentally damaged by us in any way during this more delicate growing time.
New lawns must be treated differently as they establish, when compared to fully established lawns.
Watering A New Lawn
Watering new lawns and ensuring they remain moist at the soil and sod levels at all times is vital during this establishment phase. No drying out should be allowed to ever occur, of sod or soil, at any time. This is most especially true during the warmest months of summer, when excessive heat can quickly destroy newly establishing lawns if they are not being maintained correctly with adequate water.
How often we water will depend on many factors, such as the heat of the day, and whether we are establishing seed or sod. Bare soils which are growing a new lawn from lawn seed will need to be monitored more thoroughly and will often need more water applied more often. This may mean watering the soil several times a day until the new lawn becomes established.
Likewise, a new lawn growing from sod may also need watering several times a day until it begins to set down its root system. At which time the watering schedules can be lessened gradually over the next weeks.
Regardless of seed or sod, the idea is the same, we don’t want the soil or sod to dry out, as this can quickly kill any new roots or lawn as the lawn slowly establishes in its first weeks of life. In cooler weather, the new lawn can be far more forgiving if it does dry out a little, as the lack of heat will not place any stress on the new lawn, nor will the soil or sod evaporate moisture from their profiles at any significant rate.
Fertilization of New Lawns
It is generally never a good idea to fertilize new lawns. All that abundance of excessive nutrients being fed to a lawn which is slowly struggling to set forth its roots and shoot forth new growth can be too much for any newly establishing lawn to cope with.
Instead, good soil preparation, with adequate organic nutrients added, done weeks prior to any seed or sod being laid is a far better option. While allowing those few weeks to pass so as to allow these organic fertilizers to decompose into the soil, and thus lose most of their potency prior to any new lawn being laid or sown.
It is best to avoid lawn fertilizers for new lawns for the first three to six months of life. Once past this initial establishment phase, we can then begin fertilization, using half recommended quantities of fertilizer during the lawn’s first year of life. This is a very gentle way to treat the new lawn, and to ensure it is not overwhelmed with nutrients that its immature structure cannot fully cope with.
Mowing New Lawns
There really should be no lawn mowing or any other disturbing activity on new lawns during their establishment phase.
For lawns laid by sod, the first lawn mowing should not occur for between three to six weeks after being installed. At which time we only want to slightly trim the lawn, without removing too much leaf material. Keep the leaf long, mow to only remove a little of the leaf at a time. This keeps the lawn looking tidy of course, but also aids in encouraging the lawn to grow more denser green leaf after cutting, which in turn helps feed the lawn and which in turn promotes the lawn to develop its root systems. Mow more often, while removing less leaf material during the first few months of life for any new lawn.
Likewise, seeded lawns should be treated even more gently so as not to disturb the soil too much, as the mowing process can help to dislodge some new lawn shoots from the soil. Allow the seeded lawn to establish and thicken up its green leaf layer before the first lawn mowing, and once again only trim a small amount of leaf at a time. Seeded lawns can be far more fragile to any lawn mowing than a lawn laid by sod.