Unmowed New Sod: Risks and Management Tips You Should Know

Hello, green thumbs! If you’ve recently invested in lush new sod for your yard, I have an essential question for you – have you mowed it yet? If not, it’s time we have a little chat. 

I completely understand the temptation just to stand back and admire that pristine carpet of green that now graces your landscape. Laying new sod can be a significant project, so it’s natural to feel you deserve a break. But here’s the thing: mowing plays a pivotal role in the development of new sod. Neglecting it can have some unseen severe consequences that may jeopardize your investment.

In this post, we’ll explore why mowing matters for new sod and what can happen if you don’t get right on it. I’ll also provide some tips to get your mowing regimen back on track if you did let your new sod go a bit too long. So grab your proverbial trowels, dear gardeners, and let’s dig in!

Why Mowing Matters for New Sod

Before we get into the risks, it helps to understand what mowing does for new sod and why it’s so crucial in those early weeks after installation. 

What happens to grass that isnt cut

Encourages deep-root growth

Mowing encourages your new sod to develop deep, robust roots. Cutting the blades signals the grass that it’s time to start growing roots to access more water and nutrients. With mowing, the roots stay shallow and stable.

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Helps Grass Adapt 

That first mow also promotes lateral growth, which helps the sod establish itself more quickly in its new home. Mowing combined with proper watering and fertilization enables the sod to adapt to your specific climate and soil environment.

Creates a Dense, Resilient Turf

Proper mowing height thickens the turf over time, making it more resilient. That dense sod better withstands environmental stresses and resists weeds, pests, and diseases much better than patchy, thin grass.

So, in summary, mowing kickstarts critical biological processes that enable your new sod to thrive. It’s truly an essential practice right from the start. Now, what happens if you don’t get to mowing? Let’s find out.

Is long grass more challenging to cut

Risk #1: Weak, Vulnerable Roots

Without mowing, your sod keeps trying to grow tall rather than dedicating energy to growing deep, anchoring roots. This leaves the sod weakly rooted and unable to stabilize itself or take up sufficient water and nutrients from the soil. Just a light tug can pull up sections!

Weak sod also doesn’t stand a chance against heavy rainfall, which can cause sections to shift and edges to peel up. And should dry conditions occur, poorly rooted sod dries out faster, turning that lush new lawn crispy and brown. 

Risk #2: Susceptibility to Pests and Disease 

Long, overgrown blades also create the perfect hideout for lawn-damaging pests like chinch bugs and sod webworms. Removing too much blade length through improper mowing stresses the grass, making it more vulnerable to diseases like brown patches and dollar spots.

A close up of a healthy sod lawn

An adequately maintained sod lawn is far less hospitable to these unwanted guests. So don’t give pests a free pass – get mowing!

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Risk #3: Patchy Growth and Appearance

Erratic growth between mowed and unmowed areas can create an uneven, patchy landscape. This occurs because mowing encourages thick lateral expansion while unmowed sections continue vertical growth. The result could be better density and color consistency.

Risk #4: Compaction and Thatch Buildup

Tall matted grass prevents proper air circulation at the soil level, encouraging the development of thatch, moss, and molds. It also causes grass clippings to accumulate on the surface. As these decompose, they compress the soil, hampering drainage and root development. More headaches, for sure!

How long can grass get if it is not cut

Risk #5: Landscape Domino Effect

Finally, neglecting to mow new sod has a domino effect on other aspects of lawn care. For instance, shaggy sod prevents proper penetration of water, fertilizer, herbicides, and insecticides. This makes caring for your lawn much more difficult.

Rehabilitating an Overgrown Sod Lawn

If your new sod did get away from you, don’t panic! Here are some tips to get your lawn back in shape:

  • Use a string trimmer to cut back the overgrowth over multiple passes incrementally. Only remove 1/3 of the blade height at a time.
  • Adjust your mower height to the maximum setting for the first real mow. Drop it lower gradually over subsequent mows.
  • Improve drainage and aeration by aerating compacted areas. Weekly mowing will further reduce thatch buildup over time.
  • Evaluate your watering and fertilization practices and adjust accordingly to nourish the rehabilitation process. 
  • Overseed thin or bare patches to thicken up the turf. Use a pre-emergent herbicide to deter weed seeds from sprouting.
  • Stick to a regular mowing schedule in the future to maintain healthy growth. Changing directions with each mow also encourages density.
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A sod lawn that has been overgrown and is starting to look patchy

For severely damaged lawns, a complete sod replacement may be necessary. But with some patience and TLC, you can likely nurse your property back to health with proper ongoing care. Don’t hesitate to contact a professional for advice.

Growing a gorgeous sod lawn takes commitment, dear readers, but the rewards are so worth it. Follow those best care practices from the start, and keep up with my blog for more tips! Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to fire up my mower. Happy growing!