When establishing and caring for new Bermuda sod to create a healthy yard, the first month is critical for sod survival and flourishing weed-free grass. For best results from your Bermuda grass sod, follow these guidelines:
- Lay Bermuda sod in spring, when air temperatures are 75–90℉ (24–32℃).
- Water twice daily for the first 2 weeks after laying Bermuda sod.
- Mow 2 weeks after laying sod.
- Reduce watering in weeks 3 and 4 after laying Bermuda sod.
- Fertilize Bermuda sod in week 4 to promote lawn growth.
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What is the Best Time of Year to Lay Bermuda Sod?
Bermuda sod should be laid in spring when daytime temperatures are 75–90℉ (24–32℃). Bermuda is a warm-season grass that grows most quickly in warm spring and summer temperatures. By laying Bermuda sod in spring, your lawn will be established quickly and will be strong enough to survive cooler late-year temperatures.
Do not lay Bermuda sod in fall or winter. Bermuda grass grows slowly or becomes dormant in cool temperatures, resulting in difficulty establishing sod and risking the death of your sod during a frost or cold snap.
How Often Should You Water New Bermuda Sod?
For the first 2 weeks after sod installation, water new Bermuda sod 2 times per day for 10 minutes each watering session. Water once in the morning, and once in the afternoon to prevent sod drying and shrinking. Do not water your sod in the evening (after 5 PM) because this leads to standing water and encourages fungus, root disease, and insect infestation.
In week 3, gradually reduce the frequency of sod watering. Water once per day for 15–20 minutes.
In week 4, transition to watering your Bermuda sod like an established lawn. This is best done by watering deeply, for 30–40 minutes twice per week.
How Much Water Does Bermuda Sod Need?
New Bermuda sod needs frequent watering to keep the sod and the upper level of soil beneath the sod moist to a depth of 4–6 inches. This promotes sod root growth. ½ inch of water per day (20–30 minutes with a sprinkler) is best delivered to new sod in 10-minute increments.
New Bermuda sod has shallow roots that have not yet combined with your lawn soil to resist drought. As such, Bermuda sod is prone to drying out quickly during warm spring and summer days. For the first 2 weeks, your goal is to keep the sod and soil moist, but not muddy, to promote the best growth.
When to Mow New Bermuda Sod
Perform your first mowing of Bermuda sod 14 days after sod installation. Mowing sooner than this can damage or kill your sod. Before mowing, check your sod by gently tugging on a section. If it resists uprooting, it has established itself enough for mowing. If it comes up easily, it’s not ready for mowing.
Mower Lawn Height for Bermuda Sod
Bermuda grass performs best when mowed to a height of 1.5 inches, so plan to mow your sod at this height. However, if mowing down to 1.5 inches would remove more than ⅓ of the grass height, plan to mow in stages. First, mow off ⅓ of the grass height, wait 3 days, and then perform a second mowing pass to reduce Bermuda grass height to 1.5 inches.
Can You Scalp New Bermuda Sod?
Bermuda sod should never be scalped. The process of scalping (mowing grass down to 0.5 inches to remove dead grass and thatch) should only be performed on lawns that have been established for 6–12 months. Scalping Bermuda sod is very likely to kill the sod outright, destroying your lawn.
Bermuda grass should only be scalped in early spring, just before it exits winter dormancy. Growing sod should be laid in mid- to late spring, while the grass is green and growing. You can save the scalping for next year.
When to Fertilize New Bermuda Sod
Fertilize your Bermuda sod 3–4 weeks after installation. Choose a liquid, high nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer. The nitrogen will promote strong, green growth that will turn your sod lawn into a seamless carpet of grass. By choosing a slow-release fertilizer, you encourage root growth and lower the risk of “burning” your lawn in hot months with an excess of nitrogen.
What is the Best Fertilizer for Bermuda Sod?
High-nitrogen liquid fertilizers are the best choice for Bermuda sod. Lawn Food 16-4-8 is a great choice for new Bermuda sod because it contains 16% nitrogen and will provide an immediate boost.
If you’d like to use an organic fertilizer, Milorganite is one of the best Bermuda fertilizers on the market. Because it comes in granular form, Milorganite is best suited to established Bermuda lawns, but it will be effective at boosting the growth of your sod as well.
Signs of Unhealthy Bermuda Sod
Even the most carefully maintained Bermuda sod can struggle at first. The good news is, most sod struggles relate to your watering plan. Be vigilant within the first few weeks of your sod’s life cycle and watch for these warning signs:
Signs of Underwatered Bermuda Sod
- Brown or dying grass.
- Sod shrinkage (gaps appearing or growing between sod pieces).
- When a piece of sod is lifted, the soil is dry and crumbles easily.
Signs of Overwatered Bermuda Sod
- Fungus or mushrooms appearing among sod.
- Sod feels spongy or releases excess water when pressed.
- When a piece of sod is lifted, grass roots are rotten (have turned brown and are soft to the touch).
If you are encountering issues from either of these warning lists, alter your watering schedule accordingly. Dry, underwatered sod may need additional 10-minute watering sessions each day. Meanwhile, if your sod is overwatered, reduce watering by half. Bermuda is a tough grass that can bounce back from either of these conditions.
Can You Overseed Bare Spots in Bermuda Sod?
Allow sod to establish itself for 6–12 months before overseeding. A new sod lawn may take a few weeks to establish itself before it really starts growing vigorously, but be patient. Bermuda is a creeping grass that spreads by long underground roots and aboveground runners. It’s great at filling in gaps, especially on sunny lawns.
If your new Bermuda sod lawn doesn’t look perfect at first, allow it a full season of growth. With proper watering and fertilization, you’ll be amazed at the results. If the lawn still has bare spots, consider overseeding the following spring.
How to Care for Bermuda Sod
New Bermuda sod should be laid in spring for the best results. After installation, water Bermuda sod at least 2 times daily for the first 2 weeks. This will keep the soil moist and encourage root growth. Following 2 weeks, mow the Bermuda sod to 1.5 inches in height. Then, gradually reduce watering to mature Bermuda lawn needs. Finally, fertilize your Bermuda lawn 4 weeks after installation. This will encourage full lawn coverage and strong root growth, turning your sod into an integrated lawn.
During the first few weeks, monitor your new sod. Make sure it is not suffering from signs of overwatering or underwatering and adjust watering schedules accordingly. By watering, mowing, and feeding your Bermuda sod, you will quickly establish a vibrant Bermuda grass lawn.