How to save dying sod is something everyone with sod installed needs to know about. If you want to enjoy the beauty and the luxury of a well-established sod, you should beware of all the reasons that cause it to die.

How To Save Dying Sod

This article includes not only all the major reasons sod begins to die, but also all the steps you can take to save it from dying. Give it a thorough read so that you can equip yourself with the right information to save dying sod.

Why Is Sod Dying?

Sod is dying because it is under watered, it may have pest infestation, or the set-up from the beginning was faulty. In addition, it can be due to excess nitrogen in the soil, or early mowing, or maybe the soil is compact.

– Under watering 

One of the principal signs your sod is dying is when it is under watered, because it is not being watered as much as needed due to insufficiency.

You must understand that laying down sod is not the same as planting grass in the soil. Freshly planted sod needs more water than old ones because it needs to establish grassroots deep into the soil.

If you live someplace hot and dry, your sod is more at risk of drying and dying out. The green part at the edges of the lawn often dies first because sprinklers easily miss these spots, and it will degenerate and die. 

Sod must be watered lightly three to four times daily for the first few weeks at least, because if it isn’t watered enough like the given, it will start dying. Naturally, sod does not take root and will start dying, as the established sod naturally needs less frequent watering comparatively. 

– Pest Infestation

If your sod appears to be turning yellow, limp, and starts dying, then see whether it is suffering from pest infestation.

Some of the most common lawn and turf bugs are cinch bugs, grubs, cutworms, mites, and aphids. These little pests will start laying their eggs and grow the larvae and live in the sod and in the long run they will damage it and even kill it.

Most of these bugs are sap-suckers, sticking their punctures into the thin grass blades to eat its sap. Over time, these bugs deprive the sod of essential nutrients needed to survive. 

The reason why you would have them is that sometimes the sod you might have bought is infested from the start. On the other hand, at other times the new sod gets infested by neighboring plants and trees in the lawn, and they would infest the grass.

– Faulty Set-up

If you were the one who placed your sod all by yourself for the first time, then maybe it is dying because it wasn’t laid properly, and due to this stress it starts to degenerate. You might not realize it, but it is possible that sod is not in intimate contact with the soil underneath.

Why Is Sod Dying

Even a minuscule amount of space between the sod and the ground makes it difficult for the roots to establish themselves and acquire water and nutrition for survival, and they will degenerate. You will see sod turning brown from malnutrition even though you seem to be watering it regularly.

– Excess Nitrogen In The Soil

Too much nitrogen is also a major reason why sod turns brown. Most of the pre-formed sod you purchase from reputed manufacturers is fertilized beforehand.

When you apply fertilizer to the freshly laid sod’s turf, the new roots cannot withstand this onslaught of nitrogen, and the excess of it will be harmful, leading to a stressful situation.

This is true for both major forms of fertilizers that we use on turfs and lawns. Whether you are applying chemical fertilizers or just going with organic compost, new sod will usually not be able to tolerate a lot of it.

– Early Mowing

Many people think that sod comprises both soil and grass, so it can be considered established grass and is fine to mow as soon as laid down, however, doing so is a big mistake because soon after such mowing, the sod begins dying.

The reason why this happens is that sod did not have its roots established fully, so the lack of time will lead it to die, because it doesn’t have a solid grip. Note that newly planted soil needs about two weeks at the minimum to grow roots long enough to sustain it. 

When you plant sod on the lawn, you will notice that the grass blades can be pulled off without effort. After a couple of weeks, when the grass blades start exhibiting resistance, you can only go ahead and mow it.

– Soil Compaction

Soil compaction occurs naturally when you walk around your lawn a lot and use a lawn mower over it. That is why you must aerate the soil before laying down new sod on the lawn. 

You can aerate the soil by pushing rods several inches deep into it at a distance of several inches. You should also rake the top of three inches of the soil and mix it with fresh soil and loose sand so that it has air and is a draining soil. 

Otherwise, the roots of the grass from the sod will be unable to access water from compacted soil and will start dying.


How To Save Dying Sod?

To save dying sod first treat the infestation, prepare a better soil, you can even add some lawn booster. In addition, remember to water it thoroughly and keep it hydrated, and lastly, don’t allow any pest to waste on them.

– Treat The Infstation

The first step in your efforts to save your dying brown sod is to see what might be the specific cause behind it. 

Dying sod and dormant grass can be saved by treating what is causing them to die, if the grass has become diseased due to any fungal infection or pest infestation, that needs to be treated. The reason for the latter is that so the pests don’t lay eggs in the soil, multiply and grow. 

Help dying sod

There are many homemade DIY options, such as neem oil, are quite effective against pests and fungus. It is okay to go for commercial fungicides and insecticides if that suits you more. You can apply these according to the instructions given on the package, or if it is an organic one, you can simply spread the neem oil, and the pests will die.

– Prepare The Soil Properly

You need to work on the soil to bring your dead grass to life. The best time to improve the condition of the soil is during early spring and fall. You must be cautious as the first step you need to take is to remove all weeds and dead grass remains from the soil, but be very keen on this not to kill it.

A non-selective herbicide will kill any weed species growing in the sod without killing the grass. Weeds take some time to die after herbicide is applied. When weeds finally die, and then you should physically pull dead weeds and grass up because they don’t serve their purpose.

Note that the next step is to loosen up the soil, so the dying grassroots can access water and nutrients. Because the sod has already been laid, you cannot rake the top layers of the soil. You need to take a long, sharp rod and make deep holes in the soil to loosen it up, make sure that the rod is sterilized.

Lastly, soil preparation is completed by adding nutrients in one form or another. You can even add manure or compost to the soil if you are into organic gardening. Otherwise, commercial fertilizers and soil modifiers can improve the soil’s condition within hours.

– Add Lawn Booster

A lawn booster is a three-in-one formula that comprises fertilizer, grass seed, and soil modifiers. Now, remember that if you wish to give your dying sod and dormant grass an instant boost, then there is no better remedy.

Take care that you always purchase a grass booster from a verified manufacturer. Nonetheless, all you have to do is to follow the instructions given on the back of the booster label, and you will see the sod turning green within a few days.

Customized lawn boosters are available for all types of common lawn grasses. Be mindful, because if the sod needs de-weeding, there should be a gap of 21 days between the two procedures, and this key to keep it lively.

– Thorough Watering for Hydration

You must revive a dead lawn with a tight watering schedule. This is especially true if the sod has begun to die due to underwatering. If your area has been undergoing a drought or negligent for a while, you must start a vigorous watering regime until the dying sod turns green again.

The standard is to water a newly installed sod twice daily for the next two months. Each watering session should last about 20 minutes. You must make sure that all corners and edges of the sod are reached equally. Set your sprinklers so that water reaches everywhere slowly but deeply.

Just one word of caution is not to get carried away while watering. Overwatering will cause the grass roots to rot and die faster instead of reviving.

Most grass types need an inch of water per week. Once the sod becomes green again, you should resume a weekly watering schedule that gives only an inch of water to it and no more.

– Prevent Pets From Wasting on It

It might seem inconvenient, but as a cat or a dog wastes on the grass, they would harm it. The reason is that pet pee has a very high nitrogen concentration in the form of urea and ammonia. 

Notice carefully, and you will see that the part of the sod where dog pee falls soon turns yellow or brown. This shows that it has been chemically burned and is dying, because of the abundant acid content it has. You can let your furry friends play around the sod, but you must train them not to waste on in it any way.

major reasons sod begins to die

However, if a pet does end up urinating on sod by an accident, you need to wash that spot immediately with ample water as soon as possible. You better keep pets out of the lawn for long-term health and revival of dying grass and sod. This can be done simply by sprinkling cayenne paper all over the lawn.


There are several reasons that would cause your sod to die, but it can also be revived.

Let us summarize important points on what to do if the grass starts to die after installing sod on the lawn:

  • If the sod seems to be dying from pest attack, homemade or commercial insecticides will help bring it back to life.
  • An important part of lawn care is to prevent cats and dogs from peeing on the sod because it can kill sod.
  • Aerate the soil, so the grassroots have better access to nutrients and water that helps them survive.
  • In addition, too much nitrogen is also a major reason why sod turns brown.

If you ever see your sod turning dry and beginning to die, don’t panic. This article will help you bring it back to life, more lush and fresh than before.

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