Sod Care

Watering

After installation, this is where it all begins. Sod is a living product and needs attention when it is taking root.
We recommend watering immediately after installation and then twice a day for about 30 minutes each during the first month.
Try to water in the early morning and again in the early afternoon. Avoid watering at night - you don't want want the water to sit there and be a potential disease magnet!

  • Floratam and Seville St. Augustine:
    St. Augustine lawns will need 2 or 3 waterings per week during the summer and 1 or 2 waterings the rest of the year.
  • Empire Zoysia:
    Zoysia grass will require 2 or 3 waterings per week during the summer and 1 or 2 waterings the rest of the year, just like St. Augustine sod. While it is true Zoysia is more draught tolerant, this does not mean you can neglect it with less water.

Mowing

A healthy lawn requires proper mowing. After installation, you should wait until the sod is rooted before the first cut. To check, simply grab a piece of sod and gently pull it up. If you feel resistance, the sod is taking root and you are safe to mow.
It is important to cut your grass at the proper height with regularity. Do not let your grass grow for an extended period of time and then lop the majority of it off - this practice is harmful to the health of your lawn.
It is also important to use and maintain the proper equipment. You will want to keep your mower blades sharp, so your grass gets cut - not torn. Your lawn will start to look brown if your blade is too dull as it will feather the edges of your grass.
We sell the best lawn equipment brands in the country and all our locations have repair centers with highly skilled professionals. We can give advice, fix your equipment or sharpen your blades.
In Florida, clippings are most often left on the lawn which acts as a fertilizer to return nutrients to the soil. However, you do not want to do this with grass that is much taller than the recommended height.
Of course, you can also hire a professional maintenance crew to take care of your lawn!

  • Floratam St. Augustine:
    Floratam St. Augustine should be cut to a height of 3-4 inches. You can usually achieve this by setting your mower at its highest wheel position.
  • Seville St. Augustine:
    Seville is considered a semi-dwarf variety and should be mowed at about 2 inches.
  • Empire Zoysia:
    Zoysia is kept shorter than St. Augustine sod - around 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches. Zoysia is slower growing than St. Augustine, but since it needs to be kept shorter, you end up mower about the same during the year - that is least once a week during spring & summer, and about every other week during the rest of the year. A reel mower is NOT required, but will provide a cleaner cut at lower heights.

Fertilizing

Fertilizing is very important in Florida - don't overlook this important step!
Sandy soil like ours leaches nutrients quickly and requires more frequent fertilizer applications. Many professionals establish a quarterly visit as a good time frame, but this can vary.
If you are the DIY type, it is not recommended to apply fertilizers during the heat of the summer. When buying fertilizer, you will typically see three numbers separated by dashes. The first represents nitrogen (e.g. 16-4-8). The recommendation is to use higher nitrogen formulas during the spring and fall, and more balanced formulas the rest of the time (e.g. 8-8-8). Look for a good mix of minor (secondary or trace) elements, as this equates to a higher quality fertilizer. You should wait at least one month before fertilizing new sod. Our sod is well taken care of at the farm, so you really don't need to pre-fertilize unless you have a specific pre-existing condition. Try to avoid so-clled "weed & feed" fertilizers, as they contain herbicides that could injure new sod. A healthy lawn is the best defense against weeds, so herbicides should be used only when weeds are already established.

  • Floratam and Seville St. Augustine:
    St. Augustine tends to like higher levels of nitrogen. There are many formulas and brands of fertilizer on the market and the specifics for your yard will require more research than we can provide. Contact the Department of Agriculture for further information, or contact a professional spray company!
  • Empire Zoysia:
    Zoysia will require a different formula than St. Augustine and does best with 4 - 6 applications each year.
  • Bahia:
    Bahia is typically used as a low-maintenance grass where green is the most important characteristic. It WILL get weeds and there honestly isn't much that can be done about it in th long run.

Soil pH
The optimum pH of your soil does depend on the type of sod, but, in general, nutrient uptake is at its peak when your soils pH is between 6.0 and 7.0. When pH is below 6.0 (meaning a more acidic soil), certain elements become more soluble and your sod can ingest toxic levels leading to stress and even death.
If your pH is too high, the nutrient content is reduced. This can lead to high concentrations of sodium, which results in poor soil structure. Water and nutrients have trouble penetrating poorly structured soil, resulting in nutrient deficiencies and stunted plant growth. The most common method to raise pH is with lime, while lowering is typically done by adding sulfur. If you have had issues with keeping grass alive in the past, we recommend testing your soil. You want to collect 1-2 cups of soil for each area of your lawn.

Pest Control

Different types of pests are attracted to the different types of sod. Most of the time, you will want to contact a professional for guidance if you have signs of pests.

  • Floratam and Seville St. Augustine:
    Major Pest: chinch bug. Symptoms: Wilting, not responding to watering. Color change from yellow to brown and grow outward. Can resemble brown patch, which is a fungus and not a pest. Other potential pests include sod webworms, armyworms, and grass loopers (not hoppers). These insects will chew leaves down to the stem if left untreated. Most pests show up during the warmer months of the year. If you have pest issues, contact a professional for guidance.
  • Empire Zoysia:
    Major Pest: billbug. Damage: Eating the roots. Symptoms: Wilting and not responding to watering. Other pests include sod webworms, armyworms, and grass loopers (not hoppers). These insects will chew leaves down to the stem if left untreated. Most pests show up during the warmer months of the year. If you have pest issues, contact a professional for guidance.
  • Bahia:
    Major Pest: mole cricket. Damage: Root damage due to burrowing. Symptoms: Rapid wilting and general poor health.
    Army worms and grass loopers (not hopper) can chew Bahia leaves, but it is fairly rare as Bahia’s tough blade is not very palatable to them. Most pests show up during the warmer months of the year. If you have pest issues, contact a professional for guidance.

Disease

We recommend hiring a professional spray company to take care of both your fertilizing and pest control. This will help minimize disease, pest damage and burn-out from over fertilizing.
There are two distinct types of disease when it comes to sod. "Invisible" diseases like root and stem rot (since the signs can be hard to see), and the more obvious diseases that cause symptoms like leaf spot. There are many species - some which can only be identified by laboratory analysis! Grass diseases can be chemically controlled with the proper use of fungicides. Contact with a professional spray service, county agricultural agent, or a just knowledgeable garden center for recommendations if you think your grass has a disease. The most common factor favoring disease development is over watering, as most pathogens thrive in a moist environment. Shady areas tend to succumb to disease more often, as they are slower to dry out. A healthy lawn that is watered, fertilized, and mowed properly is much more resistant to disease and recovers faster if it is attacked.