When to Start Walking on New Sod: How Long to Wait for You + Pets

Have you recently had new sod installed on your lawn and are wondering how long you’ll have to wait before you can start using it? Well, the last thing you want to do is to ruin parts of your newly-installed sod by walking or stepping on the turf too soon. In this blog, we go through why you shouldn’t walk on new sod too early, when’s the right time to start walking on new sod, and how to properly water new sod without stepping on it.

Is it okay to walk on new sod?

The answer to this question depends on how recently your new sod was laid. For new sod that’s less than two weeks old and is yet to establish shallow roots, you’ll generally want to avoid walking on it as much as you can. This is because at this stage, the sod is at its most sensitive to pressure from factors like foot traffic.

However, after the formation of shallow roots usually after the first two weeks, your new sod will typically be ready for light foot traffic. From the second to the sixth week, formation of deeper roots takes place, after-which your new sod will be ready for heavy foot traffic.

When can you start walking on new sod?

You can start walking on your new sod once shallow rooting takes place, typically after about 14 days. To check whether rooting has occurred, gently lift one of the edges of your sod and note the resistance as you lift. Sod that lifts easily with minimal resistance, it means that rooting is yet to occur and you should avoid walking on your new sod at all costs. Conversely, if you’re met with significant resistance as you try to lift the sod, then it means that it has already developed stronger roots and can significantly withstand foot traffic.

Can dogs walk on new sod?

No, you want to keep your pet as far away from your newly-sodded lawn as possible. Since new sod has shallow roots, pet urine can easily seep into the soil and cause damage to such developing roots. You’ll- therefore- want to keep dogs away from the new sod until deeper, stronger roots are established.

Why can’t you walk on new turf too early?

If you begin walking on your new sod before it establishes a strong anchorage system, your turfgrass is less likely to thrive, as the foot pressure causes wear to sections of the turf. The best thing to do- therefore- is to wait for proper root establishment. The most you can do is to try and shorten the waiting duration by boosting the rate at which root establishment takes place. You can achieve this by:

  1. Ensure to irrigate the new sod frequently during the first fourteen days.
  2. Avoid overwatering your new sod, as excessive soil moisture inhibits rooting.

If for one reason or the other- you have to walk on your new sod within the first six weeks of installation, avoid trudging repeatedly through the same path on the lawn and change your routes through the sod as much as possible. This will help minimize chances of wear on specific sections of the sod due to heavy foot traffic. For particularly heavy foot traffic, you can cover your new sod with plywood to protect it. However, you’ll want to avoid covering your new turf for too long as this prevents direct sunlight exposure.

How to water new sod without walking on it

Having to wait a couple weeks for sod anchorage before you can begin walking on it doesn’t mean that you won’t need to water it. The best way to water your newly-installed sod without walking on it is by using sprinklers. Otherwise, if you don’t have a sprinkler system and have to irrigate by hand, ensure to walk softly on the lawn by not scooting your feet to avoid sliding the sod.

When watering the lawn, you’ll want to totally avoid stepping on it once its wet and the soil is soaked, as it’s more vulnerable to wear damage at this point. To achieve this, begin watering from the farthest section of the lawn while working away from the lawn.

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