Why is My New Sod Turning Brown?

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When you install new sod, the goal is to have a green, lush lawn, so it can be heartbreaking if you start seeing brown spots on your grass.

It’s easy to panic when this happens, but first, you need to figure out why new sod is turning brown.

The main reasons as why your new sod turn brown includes, too much or little water, lawn disease, insects, excess nitrogen, pup urine, soil compaction, premature mowing, and poor installation.

This is why it’s essential to follow proper installation procedures and water your new sod well.

Moreover, it’s best to avoid fertilizing your new sod when it’s taking root, that’s the initial two weeks after installation.

Why Is My New Sod Turning Brown?

New sod turning brown

In most cases, the main cause of new sod turning brown is under watering or overwatering.

Other causes include:

1. Pest Infestation

Since new sod needs lots of water initially, the extra moisture can attract fungus, which causes brown spots in new sod.

Moreover, pest insects enjoy eating new sod since it’s still soft, which leads to browning.

Read more:

2. Poor Installation

New sod must establish the right contact with the underneath ground, which depends on proper installation.

Therefore, poor sod installation can cause it to turn brown since the air pocket between the soil and sod inhibits nutrients and moisture intake by the grass.

Sometimes you are left with air pockets even after correct installation if the soil settles post-installation. Therefore, it’s essential to inspect if the soil settled when determining the cause of your new sod browning.

3. Lack of Water

New sod requires proper watering to facilitate normal growth and root establishment. You run the risk of the sod turning brown and even dying if you do not water it a minimum of two times every day for the first two weeks of installation.

You risk killing some, if not most, of the growing roots if you don’t water them because of limited soil water. This will eventually make the affected grass leaf blades brown.

At least half of the soil needs to soak up whenever you irrigate the turfgrass, even if you stick to the recommended watering frequency to avoid browning.

The sod in areas near asphalt, concrete, and buildings suffer from reflected heat, so it usually dries faster than the other areas; hence it may require extra water.

4. Overwatering 

Yes, it can be confusing; on the one hand, you are supposed to water new sod religiously, but on the other hand, too much watering can harm your new lawn.

In fact, the effects of overwatering are more damaging than underwatering.

Related: Overwaterd lawn

Don’t rush into irrigating your lawn more if you notice brown spots because overwatering can make the roots rot.

Therefore, if you have been watering your new sod a lot, stop it to give the sod time to recover from sogginess.

5. Premature Mowing

You need to wait for at least 14 days before mowing your new sod after installation and confirm root establishment before the initial mowing.

Failure to do so may result in brown spots in new sod because the lawnmower’s weight stresses new turf.

6. Soil Compaction

Brown spots on new sod can also be caused by highly compact soil, which inhibits water from penetrating the ground and, in turn, the growing grass’ roots.

In this case, the sod will turn brown because of lack of water.

7. Excess Nitrogen In The Soil

Applying fertilizer after installing new sod could be the reason your sod is wilting even if you used slow-release fertilizers.

The roots of new sod are usually too shallow to absorb excess nitrogen added to the soil by fertilizers successfully.

Therefore, too much fertilizer burns growing roots causing grass blades to turn brown. Remember that commercial sod is already fed ample fertilizer to last it during the anchorage stage, so more fertilizer makes it excessive.

8. Dog urine

Growing a green, healthy lawn is tough if you let your pet urinate in your yard since their urine result in brown and yellow spots.

Read more: Will baking soda neutralize dog urine on grass

Can Brown Sod Be Saved?

Yes, brown sod can be saved as long as it’s not dead. The best saving strategy should take into account the cause of browning. This is only possible if the grass isn’t already dried out and dead.

The restoration will depend on what made your new sod turn brown. However, you are better off avoiding this problem in the first place, and that means:

1. Installing new sod correctly- You may need to call for hiring a landscaping expert to ensure the work is done the right way, especially if you don’t have the necessary skill to pull off the project.

2. Watering the sod well- prevent your new sod from turning brown or dying caused by water deficiency by irrigating it at the approved intervals, ensuring the soil top half is completely soaked.

3. Not applying fertilizer during the first 14 days post-installation when the root system is being established.

How Do I Revive My Dying Sod?

Before reviving your dying sod, you must first figure out why it’s withering in the first place since the information will guide you into taking the right restoration approach.

Therefore, here are the different ways to revive your dying sod based on the causes for browning or yellowing.

1. Reviving New Sod Dying From Air Pockets

You can get rid of air pockets found between the ground and sod created due to poor installation by lifting the browning sod and filling the air pockets with topsoil or compost.

Doing so will ensure the sod is in contact with the soil, thus forming a pathway for the nutrients to be absorbed by the roots.

2. Reviving Dying Sod Caused By Pet Urine

You can keep a green lawn even with a pet at home by protecting your grass from the damaging properties of pet pee through the following tips:

  • Train Your Pet To Urinate In One Place- since pet urine doesn’t interact well with sod, you should establish an area of mulch or rocks and train your pet to pee there rather than your new sod. However, remember this won’t be easy, but the outcome will be entirely satisfactory.


  • Watering Down The Urine- pouring water on the area your pet urinated on dilutes the urine, flushing out the high nitrogen concentration. You will also need to keep them out of the affected area to allow new grass to replace the yellow spots or burned patches.
  • Keep Your Pet Off New Sod- give your new lawn the best chance of thriving by making sure your pet doesn’t play on it, especially during the first few weeks of installation. In addition, ensure they stay off while restoring browned sod.

3. Reviving Dying Sod Caused By Watering Issues

If your new sod is dying because of  lack of new water or high temperatures, you will need to water your lawn with a lot of water.

Begin with deep soaking for about an hour to determine if the new sod requires more water.

Choose opportune times  to water the yard (between 3 am- 4 am is usually ideal because there’s no sunlight and heat evaporation is low).

Read more: Why does some grass appear greener than others

Reduce the amount of water if you find little water pools in your lawn, and if walking on the sod feels squishy, you are overwatering it. In that case, stop watering your yard to allow the sod to stop being soggy.

4. Reviving Dying Sod Caused By Premature Mowing

If you make the mistake of mowing your new sod prematurely and it turns brown or yellow, you can restore it by skipping some scheduled mowings.

This will allow the grass to grow taller, offsetting the initial adverse effects of premature mowing.

5. Reviving Dying Sod Caused By Soil Compaction

Compact soil has poor drainage because it is too hard, thus making water flow away instead of penetrating the soil.

This deprives your new sod of the moisture needed to establish roots and thrive, resulting in new turf turning brown.

You can solve this problem by opening up holes in the soil using a screwdriver or any other similar sharp item to let the water soak into the ground.

6. Reviving Dying Sod Caused By Pest Infestation

Get guidelines on eliminating fungi and insect pests attacking your lawn from your local agricultural extension office.

How Long Does It Take For Brown Sod To Turn Green?

It can take between one to three weeks for brown sod to turn green with regular watering and giving it extra attention. Moreover, make sure people, pets, and other animals don’t step on it unnecessarily.

To summarize things up.

The main cause of new sod turning brown are:

  • Overwatering
  • Poor Installation
  • Pest Infestation
  • Underwatering
  • Premature Mowing
  • Soil Compaction
  • Excess Nitrogen In The Soil
  • Dog urine

New sod turning brown shouldn’t leave you in despair since you can turn the tide and restore a yellow or brown lawn to green.

You will shortly have a green, healthy lawn you will enjoy for years with proper restoration steps and maintenance.

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