New Sod Not Taking Root: 8 Common Causes And How to Fix

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Days after laying down your sod you expect to have a green, thriving lawn that looks great even from a far.

However, you fast realize that it’s not the case since your sod is not taking root, so the big question is why is your grass not taking root and how can you solve it?

New sod not taking root could stem from factors such as lack of moisture and a compact soil structure that makes it challenging for roots to penetrate. The newly planted grassroots could have been over-cut or had poor contact with the dirt.

Whatever the cause, this article contains remedies for you. Look at it and learn about the reasons and solutions to this issue.

Reasons Why New Sod is Not Taking Root 

 new sod not taking root

Sod not taking root could be caused by the soil being too compacted for roots to penetrate or you’re underwatering.

Here is a list of the most common causes for sod not taking root and fixes.

1) Floating Sods In Your Yard

If you detect a loose contact between the newly planted sod and the ground underneath it, your lawn has floating sod. It could be a reason for your sod not taking root.


Start by watering new sod, then use a garden roller or a lawn roller to roll over them. You can do this before installing the sod in the first place.

This process will merge the sod and the soil.

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2) Compacted Soil

If you’re irrigating your sods adequately, there’s an issue with the soil. Examine the dirt underneath the sod, ensuring it is airy and not too tightly packed.

Sometimes, hard compacted soil structures don’t absorb sufficient water. It results in roots hardly hydrated even after irrigation. These soils are also deficient in oxygen which is essential for sod rooting.


If the soil beneath your sod becomes compacted, lift the sod and use a garden aerator (spike or plug) to aerate the soil. Mix one part perlite or peat moss with the dirt.

Relay your sod and watch them revive since the roots now get enough water and oxygen.

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3) You’re underwatering your Sod

While inadequate watering within the first weeks after installation might not cause your grass to go dormant, it can impede the growth of the sod’s shallow root structure. If you don’t give your sod enough water within the first two weeks, it will turn brown and wither.


Water your new grass at least twice per day for the first week. This irrigation can help rejuvenate dormant grass.

Related: Best barriers to keep cars off your lawn

Experts advise you to water the new sod daily to wet the ground totally and boost the formation of a deep root system. The watering schedule enables shallow grass roots to grow deeper into the earth and capture moisture that lingers after evaporation from the topsoil.  But be careful not to overwater your lawn.

4) Mowing Your Sod Too Short

Photosynthesis, a process in which grass produces food when exposed to sunlight, happens in the grass blades. The process creates food that is delivered to the grassroots to sustain them.

Longer sod blades outdo shorter grass blades in delivering food because they have a larger surface area. Therefore, over-trimming grass blades in the early stages might result in your sod not taking root.


Avoid trimming your newly planted grass too short, particularly in the first several weeks, because that’s when they are attempting to establish a root system. Instead, cut the sod so that the grass blades are conspicuous and cover the earth beneath.

5) Planting Warm Season Sod Variety In Winter

If you plant warm-season carpet grass in the winter time, you should know that some varieties go dormant in such seasons, which could be why your sod has not taken root.

Grasses such as zoysia and Bermuda turn brown and stall growing in cold conditions, making them take longer to root in.


Continue irrigating, fertilizing, and caring for your fresh sod until it gains traction.

Read more: Watering lawn after fertilizing

6) Improper Soil Preparation

Maybe your turf isn’t developing roots since you or the sod provider cut corners and planted it over old grass. Leaving a grass layer beneath your sod stops it from rooting and raises the risk of dying because of nutritional and moisture deficiencies.

The fresh grass must grow roots to benefit from the water and nutrients in the dirt.


Remove your old grass before spreading new sod to ensure a healthy root network.

7) Fertilizers

Application of nitrogen to your grass within 30 days after planting will cause your grass to turn yellow and scorch the young roots. Nevertheless, a phosphorus treatment or a grass starter fertilizer 18-24-12 induces rapid root development.


Avoid using nitrogen-rich fertilizers for 30 to 60 days after sod installation. Additionally, you can follow the manufacturer’s guidelines or hire a spray specialist when applying phosphorus treatment and grass starter fertilizer.

8) Take-All Root Rot Fungal Disease 

It is a fungus that grows on grassroots because of over-watering. Over-watering your recently installed sod is detrimental and irreversible.

The fungus is active for 2 to 3 weeks before visible indicators appear above the soil. It shortens the roots and turns them black, denying the grass water and finally causing it to die.

That could explain why your sod has not taken root.

How To Know If Sod Is Not Taking Root

You can check if your sod is taking root by grabbing a piece of it and pulling it up gently. If you meet resistance, the root system is healthy and has grown correctly.

However, If it detaches easily from the dirt, there’s a possibility your sod is not taking root and that could prompt you to think of probable reasons and solutions to the issue.

Furthermore, brown spots on sod signify that your sod is drying out and only occurs in shallow root systems. If that’s the case, read the following section to figure out the cause of the issue and how to resolve it.

Generally, new sod should develop shallow root system within 10 to 14 days.

How do you Promote Root Growth on New Sod?

Promoting root growth on new sod is essential for the development of a healthy and lush lawn.

Here are some tips to promote root growth on new sod:

1. Water the sod deeply

Watering the sod deeply helps to encourage roots to grow deeper into the soil. The soil should be moist but not waterlogged.

2. Fertilize the sod

Fertilizing the sod with a high-phosphorus fertilizer will help to promote root growth. Phosphorus is a key nutrient for root development.

3. Avoid mowing the sod too soon

Wait until the sod has rooted firmly in the soil before mowing it. This will give the roots time to establish themselves and become stronger.

4. Aerate the soil

Aerating the soil before laying the sod can help to create pockets of air and space for the roots to grow into. This will also improve water and nutrient uptake.

5. Keep foot traffic to a minimum

Avoid walking on the sod as much as possible until it has rooted firmly into the soil. This will prevent damage to the roots and help them to grow more quickly.

6. Provide proper drainage

Make sure the soil is well-drained so that the roots do not become waterlogged. This can cause them to rot and stunt their growth.

By following these tips, you can help to promote root growth on new sod, which will result in a healthy, lush lawn.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Dead Sods Be Revived?

You cannot revive dead sods. Therefore, adopt measures to re-sod your lawn.

It is also worth knowing that sods don’t die right away since they go dormant for 5-6 weeks. If they exceed this timeframe, they are dead and will not revive.

Can You Seed Over Dead Sods?

You can seed over dead sods without any preparation but it may not thrive as you would expect because the grass cover could be patchy. The dead sod can make some seeding practices more challenging.

Several grass growers use rakes because grass seeds require a thin soil layer to germinate and develop effectively. Raking is not convenient for a lawn with a thick cover of dry sod on the ground.


Final Thoughts

So, let’s summarize things here.

Main reasons why sod is not taking root includes:

  • Compaction of soil.
  • Improper soil preparation.
  • Floating sods in your yard.
  • Inadequate water for the sod.
  • Mowing your sod too short.
  • Take-All root rot fungal diseases.
  • Planting warm season sod variety in winter.

First, identify the cause behind sod not taking root and use the remedies outlined in here to fix the issue.

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