Month old sod turning brown

YardleyMay 30, 2012

Hi All, I had sod installed a month ago and I am seeing a lot of brown. I will post some pictures below for reference. Before installing the sod, the ground was tilled and started fertilizer was applied, most of the roots grew in by the second week and the sod looked great for the first two to three weeks but now its not looking so great and I am wondering what to do.

I should mention that I have done a few things that might have not been healthy. After about two weeks I started to walk on it often to finish working/planting on the rest of the yard. I also had to walk on it to dig and install mesh around the perimeter because I had skunks digging under the neighbors' fence and tearing up the sod. I have also been using an older reel mover which is kind of dull to mow the lawn, reason being I borrowed it for the time being.

The pictures where it is browning, is the shortest I have mowed to date. I have been lowering the setting on the reel mower gradually, I didn't cut the grass at all for the first two to two and a half weeks. I also have a problem with squirrels, they have been digging into the ground non stop, I have holes every single morning.

Any suggestions? It has been raining a lot here in NJ so I wasn't watering the lawn as much the first few weeks. I have never felt the dirt completely dry when touching it so I don't think its under watered.

This was taken right after installation:

This was about a week ago:

About a week ago:


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jdo053103(7b - NC)

looks like too much water. Have you had had a lot of rain, is the ground staying wet? that may be your problem. You could have a fungus from from the grass being wet for long periods of time.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 2:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yeah, it has been raining a lot. The first two weeks especially, there was hardly any sun. But it looked really good at that point through the 3rd week. Now it hasn't been raining as much, we've been having some really hot sunny days and thats when the problem started. Like I said I also cut it that shortest its ever been. Maybe I do need to water it more. Im confused.

Could I use some seed at this point to get some new growth?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 3:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Definitely some fungal issues, which are pretty widespread due to the nonstop rain and cloudy weather in the northeast. What kind of sod was installed? How much sun does the area receive on a typical cloudless day? Seeding now would be a bad idea.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 3:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How much sun does it get?

Does it happen to be on the north end of your house?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 3:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yeah, it has been raining a lot. The first two weeks especially, there was hardly any sun. But it looked really good at that point through the 3rd week. Now it hasn't been raining as much, we've been having some really hot sunny days and thats when the problem started. Like I said I also cut it that shortest its ever been. Maybe I do need to water it more. Im confused.

Could I use some seed at this point to get some new growth?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 5:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry don't know why the above message posted again. About the sun, it gets a good amount of sun, mostly from the east and south. The wall on the left is north and the house is west, where I was standing when taking the pictures. There was actually a large mulberry tree that was blocking the sun from hitting the first half of the yard, you can see all of the shade in the first few pictures. I recently cut off all of the branches and now the backyard gets full sun.

Could the grass just be under stress from all of these changes? Its weird that now that the rain has stopped and that I cut the tree providing more sunlight I'm having more problems. What should I do?! Treat for fungus/grubs/both? Water less/more?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 6:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

tiemco, I'm not sure what kind of sod was installed. I called and asked the supplier but they weren't helpful. Can you identify what kind of sod it is?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 6:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just want to mention that I just went outside and touched the ground in a few places and it feels moist, not super moist but not dry. I haven't watered it today at all since it rained last night.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 6:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Basics of Lawn Care

After reading numerous books and magazines on lawn care, caring for lawns at seven houses in my life, and reading numerous forums where real people write in to discuss their successes and failures, I have decided to side with the real people and dispense with the book and magazine authors. I don't know what star their planet rotates around but it's not mine. With that in mind, here is the collected wisdom of the Internet savvy homeowners and lawn care professionals summarized in a few words. If you follow the advice here you will have conquered at least 50% of all lawn problems. Once you have these three elements mastered, then you can worry about weeds (if you have any), dog spots, and striping your lawn. But if you are not doing these three things, they will be the first three things suggested for you to correct.

Water deeply and infrequently. Deeply means at least an hour in every zone, all at once. Infrequently means monthly during the cool months and no more than weekly during the hottest part of summer. Do not spread this out and water for 10 minutes every day. If your grass looks dry before the month/week is up, water longer next time. If that does not work, then you might have to water more than once per week during the summer's hottest period. Deep watering grows deep, drought resistant roots. Infrequent watering allows the top layer of soil to dry completely which kills off many shallow rooted weeds.

You will have to learn to judge when to water your own lawn. If you live in Las Vegas your watering will be different than if you live in Vermont. Adjust your watering to your type of grass, humidity, wind, and soil type. It is worth noting that this technique is used successfully by professionals in Phoenix, so...just sayin.' The other factors make a difference. If you normally water 1 inch per week and you get 1/2 inch of rain, then adjust and water only 1/2 inch that week.

Every week mulch mow at the highest setting on your mower. Most grasses are the most dense when mowed tall. However, bermuda, centipede, and bent grasses will become the most dense when they are mowed at the lowest setting on your mower. In fact there are special mowers that can mow these grasses down to 1/16 inch. Dense grass shades out weeds, keeps the soil cooler, and uses less water than thin grass. Tall grass can feed the deep roots you developed in #1 above. Tall grass does not grow faster than short grass nor does it look shaggy sooner. Once all your grass is at the same height, tall grass just looks plush.

Fertilize regularly. I fertilize 5 times per year using organic fertilizer. Which fertilizer you use is much less important than numbers 1 and 2 above. Follow the directions on the bag and do not overdo it. Too little is better than too much. At this point you do not have to worry about weed and feed products - remember at this point you are just trying to grow grass, not perfect it. Besides once you are doing these three things correctly, your weed problems should go away without herbicide.


Okay it's me now. Looks like too watering too frequently. At this time of year once a week might be too often. I'd be looking at every 14 days or more. Don't feel the soil to determine the watering. Watch for the grass to dry out. If it is not drying out, then wait. Your soil should be dry and hard for many days before you water again.

Your lawn is either fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, or both. With that location and the proximity of the shade, any Kentucky bluegrass will die out. That is a fescue area because of the wall blocking half the day's sunlight. With that in mind you should be raising your mowing height all the way to the top. The reel mower is not great for mowing high. Good for mowing low but that's not your grass.

Do not seed this time of year. If you need seed, wait until late August.

You cannot have grubs yet. The grubs show up several weeks after the June bugs swarm your porch light. If you don't have any June bugs, then you can't have any grubs. That's not a universal truth but it is fairly useful for most people.

And on that line of thought, please don't try to prevent problems you think you might have. Wait until you have the problem. The fungus problem is pretty apparent. I have a suggestion if you are interested in an organic solution. tiemco will disagree based wisely on his experience. My experience is 180 degrees opposite to his. This time I'll wait for him to suggest something.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 10:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the in-depth reply. Someone else on another forum suggested I mow at 3 1/2 inches and at 4" in the summer, seems like you both agree on this. I also read about watering deeply and less frequently, I'm definitely going to start doing that. When I seed in late August, do I just go to HD and buy regular seed or is there any specific product I should look for? What would you suggest to treat the fungus? Thanks!

By the way I took more pictures today if anyone is interested:

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 10:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

First of all, the OP's new lawn has seen many days of rainy, cloudy, weather. He is not overwatering, mother nature has been. From what I can see, your lawn is mostly, or all, KBG. I can also tell your mower is doing a lousy job of cutting since the blades are not even, and some are ragged. Push reel mowers can do an OK job, but only with sharp blades, when properly set up, and on dry grass. It's highly likely you are experiencing melting out, a spring fungal disease. The weather has been perfect for many fungal diseases, and it is the most likely one. There are many approaches to fungal diseases. You can do nothing, and hope it self resolves. You can try some of the organic remedies, or you can use a fungicide. Unlike a lot of people I don't recommend mowing the grass to 4 inches for many reasons, especially in periods of rainy weather. I would mow your grass at the height recommended by the sod farm, or the recommended height for your grass type. Since you have KBG it's not really necessary to seed bare areas as your existing grass will spread to fill in those areas if they are a reasonable size.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 11:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the information tiemco. I think I'm going to give it a few days without mowing or watering it (unless it looks dry) to see what happens. After that I guess I'll have to take a look at treatments for fungus since a few people have suggested that could be the problem.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank all for unique tips. I am sure about that it mus be for lack of water.In summer season, most of time need to be give water every morning.Because this season weather is hot and soil become.The Grass Outlet will be green after 10-12 days if continues water everyday.

Here is a link that might be useful: Austin sod

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 9:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oddly, this is common with sod because (duh) they cut the roots off!

So, the problem is to plant seed rather than sod, OR, use a sod that has a short root system and can quickly repair itself and root into the new ground.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 11:34AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Artificial Turf and Gophers
Hello everyone - newbie in gardening here. If I am...
New bermuda sod just installed
It is 30 degrees here and I was told to water every...
Re-seeding tall fescue in winter
My tall fescue lawn has become really sparse. So I'm...
Artificial Grass Maintenance?
I'm newbie in gardening. I want to know what kind of...
Some suggested low maintenance grasses
Zone 5B, S.W. Nebraska Hot summers, typically dry....
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™