Factors That Impact Root Development in New Sod

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If you’ve ever laid new sod, you know how much time, money, and effort is required to get it just right. So as you stand there and survey your gorgeously green, lush lawn, you might feel like the job is done. Not quite…

You see, laying the sod is only half the battle. Now it’s all up to you to make sure your new sod’s roots establish correctly. Without proper root establishment, your sod will never adhere to the underlying ground and will eventually die. And if you think the movie Titanic was heartbreaking, wait until you watch your beautiful lawn brown and wither slowly before your eyes.

Phases of New Sod Root Development

To know exactly how to encourage optimal root development in your new sod, you need to understand the different phases of sod root development: shallow and deep.

Shallow Root Growth

During this phase of root development, which usually lasts about four weeks, the roots expand out in a horizontal fashion. Daily watering helps the roots grow thick and large and they prepare to dig down deeper during the deep root growth phase.

Deep Root Growth

The deep root growth phase lasts for about another four weeks and begins when you cut back the watering schedule to every other day. Since less water is available, the roots begin to dig down deep to find extra water sources. This adheres the new sod to the underlying ground and locks it in place.

How to Encourage Healthy Root Development

Prepare the Soil

Healthy roots begin before you lay the first piece of sod. You must spend the time necessary to prepare the ground before sod installation to promote ultimate root growth. Preparing the ground involves:

  • Leveling

The soil where you intend to lay new sod should be as flat and level as possible. This prevents water from pooling between the sod and the underlying ground, which can cause root rot, mold, and growth problems.

  • Testing

You should test your soil for pH before laying new sod. Home test kits are readily available online or at your local county extension office.

  • Remediation

If testing indicates that your soil needs conditioning to adjust the pH.  Products are readily available at a Garden Center or DIY store to correct.  Then you can till those nutrients into the bare soil before your new sod installation.

Give it Some TLC

While all that lush green cushion might give you the urge to do some grass angels, we highly suggest you DO NOT put any pressure on your new sod for at least two weeks, and preferably longer. New sod is extremely sensitive to any type of damage, even if it’s just your kids running around in their bare feet. If you use your new sod too much too soon, the roots may never fully establish and you’ll be left with a splotchy, crunchy mess.

Instead, spend your time rolling your new sod. Any reputable sod dealer or local lawn supply store will have one, and rolling it is a great way to eliminate air bubbles between the sod and underlying ground to encourage root penetration.

Once your sod is well-rooted into the underlying ground, usually after about 6-8 weeks, hit it with a fertilizer mixture that is made for the southern U.S. conditions.

The Best Sod in Tampa Bay

One of the best ways to improve your sod’s chances of establishing a great root system is by buying the highest quality sod possible. If you’re in Tampa Bay, that sod is sold right here at Council Growers Sod in southern Hillsborough County. We deliver our sod directly from our fields to your door, no middleman required. You’ll only get the freshest, healthiest sod possible to give your lawn a great head start. Call us at (813) 633-8665 or contact us online to discuss your sod needs, select the perfect variety, and schedule delivery for the day of your installation.