How to Keep Your Newly Sodded Lawn Looking the Best


By Rick Orr 09/22/2022
Newly planted St Augustine lawn with sod
Newly planted St Augustine lawn

My Newly Sodded Lawn Looks Worse Every Day

Homeowners become disappointed when their newly sodded lawn, which looked so good at first, now looks like the lawn they replaced. And it is getting worse every day.

Why Sod Looks So Good After Planting

Sod field and irrigation
Photo Courtesy of Council Growers Sod Farm

Sod farms are operated by professional farmers who have cultivated turf for years. The soils have been tilled and are uniform. Fields are level and in full sun all day. The irrigation is designed for a sod field and kept in tip-top condition.

Mowing, fertilization, insect, and weed control are done by professionals with professional equipment and products. Many of the products they use are restricted to use on sod farms only.

They grow turf under near-perfect conditions. Then they harvest the best-looking sod from their best fields to be installed on your lawn. The sod looks great after it is installed.

Why a Newly Sodded Lawn Goes South

Lawn prepared for planting of sod

Prior to installation, your lawn was stripped of existing vegetation and the sod laid over the exposed soil. Nothing or very little was done to till the soil. Buried construction debris, roots, shells, mulch, etc. remain and are out of sight. The result is a variety of soil conditions – droughty areas, slopes, hills, shallow soils over roots, hard pans, and more variations.

The lawn is not level and there are shady areas and open sunny areas. Edges along masonry surfaces dry out faster. Traffic wears down the turf.

Home irrigation is designed to irrigate turf and shrubs – often sacrificing the best design to be economical. Little or no effort is given to the separation of zones for turf and shrubs, shade, open sun, slopes, or areas attached to masonry surfaces. The design is poor for turf.

Irrigation rarely receives regular maintenance or repair. And when there is an irrigation failure, the system is repaired with the cheapest components.

Mowing is done by amateurs – either by the homeowner or companies using whomever they can get to show up for work.

Fertilization, insect, and weed control are done by the homeowner or professionals. Due to regulations, they have one hand tied behind their back. However, unless completely ignored, fertility, bugs, and weeds are not problematic.

Poor Conditions Produce Poor Turf

Over time, the sod reaches its highest potential under the conditions provided. Areas with poor soils, mowing and irrigation become weak and thin, and areas with good soils, mowing and irrigation thrive.

A newly sodded lawn declines because of the differences between growing turf on a sod farm and your lawn. Sod farms do a better job.

How to Keep A New Lawn Looking Good

Mowing – be sure the lawn has a canopy height – measured from the soil to the tip of the leaf – of at least 4”. A tall lawn will be more sustainable over a variety of soils and cultural conditions.

Irrigation – Maintain, repair, and upgrade. The better the irrigation, the better your lawn. And water often – you cannot kill a lawn with water, but it will perish in hours from the lack of it. A moist lawn will be more sustainable in a variety of soils and cultural conditions.

Lawn Care – Regular fertilization, and pest control are required. Your lawn is not self-sustaining; however, it is sustainable with regular fertilization and pest control.

Mitigation – Keeping it tall, wet, fertile, and free of bugs does not solve all problems in the lawn. Buried debris and roots, traffic, deep shade, and ponding will need to be mitigated. Either excavate and remove or use an alternative to turf.

Rick Orr Owner-Operator APL Pest Control/Creator of ILOVETURF.COM
APL Pest Control

Since 1995, Rick Orr has worked in Pinellas County providing turf management and pest control. Rick Orr is a graduate of VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology) and the creator of

Since graduating from VA Tech in 1979, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts, and large communities. Rick has obtained certifications in arboriculture, landscape contractor, and irrigation contractor, and taught Environmental Horticulture at St Petersburg College. 

Currently, Rick is the owner and operator of APL Pest Control. APL Pest Control provides lawn care and pest control for all of Pinellas County.

To learn more about APL Pest Control CLICK HERE

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