Step by Step, continued


4. Lay subsequent rows
After laying the first row, use the knife to cut off half of the next piece so you can stagger the short seams, as you would in laying bricks. Again, make sure to butt sections of turf snugly against each other without overlapping them. Not only will seams be less noticeable this way but the edges will be less likely to dry out and die back. Use the knife to cut out holes for in-ground sprinkler heads as needed, and to trim pieces along planting beds and paved areas.


5. Water, water, water
Water the installed lawn thoroughly, which also helps settle the soil. Try to keep foot traffic off the sod for a week. Water every day, preferably in the morning: During the heat of the day, you lose a lot of water to evaporation. And if you water at night, the sod goes to bed wet, which can encourage fungal disease. After the first week, cut back watering to every other day, tapering off to just twice a week by the third week. Then like any lawn, give it an inch of water a week, more during hot summer months.

6. Mow the lawn
When the grass reaches 3 inches high, it's time to mow it down to 2 inches. Because your new lawn is still fragile, use a walk-behind mower (rather than the heavier ride-on type) for the first trim, and be sure to bag the clippings. Though you'll probably want to grow it higher in the summer months — to encourage a deep root system and to shade out weeds—always aim to cut off one-third of the grass's length anytime you mow, and be sure to use a sharp blade.

7. Fertilize once more
Allow your lawn about three to four weeks' growth, then feed it again with a starter fertilizer to make up for nutrients that washed away during the heavy watering schedule.

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