Why is My New Sod Turning Brown? (8 Causes & Fixes That Work)

Published Categorized as Sod & Seed

Dry spots, signs of thinning, and discoloration marks are the last things you’d expect to see on newly installed sod. It is even worse if you spend a lot of money on sod purchase, transportation, and installation. But what do brown spots mean? Are they communicating something? You may also ask, “Why is my new sod turning brown?”

The reasons for your new sod turning brown include poor installation, soil compaction, inadequate water, pest infestation, and overwatering. Lack of nutrients, excessive application of nitrogen-rich fertilizer, dog urine, and premature mowing can also contribute to your new sod turning brown. 

Stay around to learn why your new sod is turning brown. What is more, in this blog, I will share pro tips on how you can fix each problem, thereby reviving your sod again.

Also read: Can You Overseed New Sod?

Why is My New Sod Turning Brown?

Have you recently installed new sod? Are you happy with what you see, or has the sod suddenly turned brown even after overseeding? Let’s look at eight possible causes and how you can quickly turn around your sod.

1. Soil Compaction

You may have wondered why I have put soil compaction as the number one possible cause. The main reason is to remind you that you should have known or resolved this problem quite early.

If the soil is very compact, it will hinder the penetration of water and other nutrients from reaching the sod’s roots. In other words, the grass will start to wither, turn brown, and eventually die from a lack of water and other essential nutrients.

How to Fix

During soil preparation, rake and aerate the soil. Raking helps open the soil, allowing water, air, fertilizer, and other essential nutrients to penetrate. Besides, you can decide to reseed the lawn, and during your preparations, you rake and aerate the soil before reinstalling the sod.

2. Insufficient Water

Lack of enough water is the number-two reason your new sod is turning brown. Like most plants, the sod needs water to survive. Remember, it was just the other day that you installed the sod. For the sod to take root and start feeding itself from the nutrients in the soil, it needs water.

You may have started well by watering the sod at least twice daily, but perhaps you have stopped because of a tight schedule. But you can see how neglecting your sod can cause a significant loss.

How to Fix

Start by watering your sod at least two times a day. The best time to water your new sod is in the morning and the evening. Maintaining such a watering schedule helps the sod absorb nutrients from the soil the whole afternoon, which enables it to develop a strong root system. 

lawn sprinkler does a commendable job of ensuring every part of the sod gets water. 

3. Poor Installation

If there was a mistake during sod installation, be sure your grass will turn brown at some point. Usually, the problem starts when you install new sod yourself, yet you have never done so successfully.

When the sod does not have proper contact with the soil, there will be a problem with it taking root. 

How to Fix

If you have never installed sod before, you need to seek the help of an expert. It will cost you a few more bucks, but if that will help you achieve a lush lawn, so be it.

Also read: Are Bermuda Seed Heads Good or Bad?

4. Pest Infestation

Creepy pests such as ground moles, chipmunks, voles, mice, groundhogs, gophers, skunks, opossums, and armadillos, among other vicious enemies, can dine on your lawn. When they feast on your property, they can devour it within a few days. Most of these pests start eating up your grass from the roots.

How to Fix

There are several tricks to get rid of ground moles and other pests, such as armadillos, from your yard. You only need to find the method that works for you. You can also hire an expert to set a trap for the pests.

5. Premature Mowing

Generally, you can mow your new sod 12–14 days after installation. But if the soil is fertile and conducive for the sod, it may grow fast, prompting you to ride your lawnmower on it early. 

Whether you use a push lawn mower or a tractor lawn mower, the pressure you mount on the sod during mowing can break the weak roots. In time, the grass will turn brown, showing dying signs of a lack of stability and nutrients.

How to Fix

The best time to mow new sod is 12–14 days after installation. If you cut earlier than 14 days, you will shake the sod, thus breaking the roots, which are yet to form a strong system. 

6. Excessive Nitrogen

Another possible suspect for your sod turning brown is excessive nitrogen content in the soil, which happens if you apply nitrogen-rich fertilizer before installing the sod. Besides, if the soil acidity is high, coupled with nitrogen, the effect will be on the grass.

How to Fix

Soil scientists recommend letting the soil rest. Besides, add organic manure or mulch to reduce the nitrogen content in the soil. Cheap dyed mulch made from softwood scrap is effective at neutralizing nitrogen in the soil.

7. Dog Urine

Pet urine, especially dog urine, can cause your new sod to brown. Like many other animal fluid excretions, dog urine contains high nitrogen deposits that burn the grass. 

How to Fix

Train your dog to stay away from the lawn. You can give your dog incentives such as treats for keeping off the yard. Besides, you can erect a fence. 

8. Overwatering

Too much water in the soil from watering or rainfall can cause your sod to turn brown. Water retention in the soil will make the roots suffocate and rot rather than sprouting and going deeper.

If the latter causes the problem, I’m afraid there is little you can do. However, if the grass is turning brown because you are applying too much water to the sod, you can do something about it.

How to Fix

Reduce the amount of water and the frequency of watering your sod.

Can Brown Sod Be Saved?

Fortunately, you can save brown sod, especially if it has a few brown patches. The best way to solve the brown color on your sod is to water, aerate, overseed, and apply the right fertilizer. Applying peat moss or mulch is also an effective way of reviving brown sod.

How Long Does It Take for Brown Sod to Turn Green?

If you follow the tips to fix the problem, brown sod can begin to regain its green color within 1-2 weeks. Just ensure that you prepare your soil well, aerate it, feed it with organic manure, apply pre-seeding fertilizer and water, and then install the sod. 

Besides, you may want to stay away from the sod for some time unless you are watering, so you do not have to step on it when watering. As usual, do not expect the grass to turn green overnight. Give your grass enough time to regain its glory.

Pro Tips to Revive Brown Sod

Here are some of the pro tips to help you revive brown sod:

  • Loosen the topsoil
  • Reinstall the sod that did not take root
  • Water your new sod
  • Keep off the grass for now and of course,
  • Be patient

Final Thoughts

Your new sod is turning brown because of poor installation, soil compaction, inadequate water, pest infestation, and overwatering. Lack of nutrients, excessive nitrogen-rich fertilizer, dog urine, or premature mowing. 

This post has discussed potential solutions to your new sod turning brown problem. Have you tried any of these? Let me know in the comment section.

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By Wycliffe Magara

Hi, my name’s Wycliffe Magara, a professional landscaper, journalist, published author, photographer, and lawn attendant. Apart from this site, I also own LawnAffection, Grasstology, and TheScholarshipTipster. I specialize in creating informational content to help you grow a Lifelong Lush Lawn and find the ideal scholarship opportunities no one ever talks about.