My New Sod is Turning Brown: 5 Causes and Solutions

Posted by Joe Mouad on Nov 18, 2021 3:22:00 PM

If you wanted a brown lawn, you would have installed dirt, right?

So when you see brown spots in your new sod, you start to panic.

That’s totally understandable. But sympathy won’t help your lawn.

If your new sod is turning brown, what’s going on out there? And what can you do about it?

Take a deep breath and let’s take a look.

1. Too Much Water

This is a big one. Yes, your new sod needs plenty of water as it gets established.

But not too much. Overwatering is actually worse than underwatering.
sprinkler system waters sod
Some Florida homeowners notice brown spots in new sod and panic, dumping even more water on their lawn, assuming it’s too dry.

But overwatering can cause root rot, and lawns often don’t recover. Don’t let it get that far. If you’ve been watering a lot, back off a bit and give your sod a chance to recover from being soggy.

2. Not Enough Water

So, too much water is bad. Not enough is just as bad. Water is the single most important step to keeping your new sod alive and thriving.

It’s really thirsty.

Make sure water reaches every area of your lawn. Sprinklers sometimes miss edges and corners, making these spots dry out faster than the center of the lawn.

irrigation team adjust sprinklers to water sod

Keep in mind that areas of sod near buildings, concrete, and asphalt will typically dry out faster due to reflected heat and may need additional water.

If your Florida sod turned brown after installation, water could be at the root of the problem.

PS: We Know This Sod Watering Stuff Is Confusing

Give your sod enough water, but not too much water. We can hear you banging your head against your irrigation controller way over here.

Watering new sod is confusing. That’s why we give you really detailed instructions for watering new sod in our sod care guide. Really detailed instructions.

You’ll know what times to water, for how long, and even which of your irrigation heads to use for what amount of time.

The instructions for watering new sod vary, depending on what type of grass, what time of year your sod is installed, and if it's planted in sun or shade.

Our instructions for new sod lawn care will answer all your questions.

3. Brown Spots in New Sod Could be a Lawn Disease

Your new sod is getting a lot of water at first as it gets established, and that extra moisture can make it susceptible to fungus that causes brown spots in your new sod.

How do you know if fungus has set in? As with many lawn care problems, it’s tricky to tell.
Lawn disease
You might see brown spots, assume your new sod needs more water, and end up making the problem worse.

Take a really close look. Sod damaged by fungus will often have a brown dead spot where the grass has died, but a lighter yellow-ish-brown ring around that where the fungus is spreading.

Apply a systemic and curative fungicide within seven days of your sod installation to head off any problems.

4. Insects Can Cause New Sod Brown Spots

The biggest insect culprit causing new sod problems in Florida is the sod webworm. It’s a bad dude.

These pests lay their eggs in the sod, and when they hatch, the larvae devour your grass. Then, brown spots.

Sod Webworm Adult
We only buy sod from farms that use an expensive webworm preventative, to keep the sod free of the damaging pests.

Apply an insecticide within seven days of your sod installation as a precaution against other pests.

5. Do You Have a Dog?

When you own a dog, having a great lawn can be ruff. Their urine causes yellow and brown spots.
puppy sitting in lawn
How to prevent your dog from ruining your lawn?

Fetch these tips:

Train Pooch to Pee in One Spot

Sod and dog urine aren’t a great match. Create an area of rocks or mulch and try to train pooch to do his business there instead of on the sod. (Note we didn’t say this would be easy.)

Water the Urine ASAP

Dragging the hose around the yard every time Sebastian does his business can make you dog tired. But if you have an irrigation system controlled by your smartphone, this is easy.

Just turn it on for a minute or two after you see your pooch go and the water will help dilute that potent urine.

Keep Dogs off New Grass

New sod will have a better chance of holding up to dog urine if you give it a chance to get established. Try to keep your furry pal off of it as much as possible for the first few weeks.

Take them for a short walk first thing in the morning, or at least out on a leash instead of letting them barrel out onto your new sod to do their business first thing.

Bonus Pro Tip: Check Your Irrigation System Before Sod Delivery

By now you know new sod needs lots of water over the first few weeks and months.

You don’t want to find out after your new sod is down that you have broken heads, a zone that doesn’t work, or controller problems.

crew team irrigation controller inspection
You want to know that now, so you can have any problems repaired before your sod delivery, to avoid those dreaded brown spots in your new sod.

How to tell for sure what’s going on in your Central Florida lawn? Give us a call.

Avoid Brown Spots in New Sod in Central Florida with Ground Source

Your sod turned brown after installation?

Yikes, that wasn’t part of your plan.

It’s not our plan, either. That’s why we provide you with all the information you need to take great care of your fresh, healthy, beautiful sod lawn.

After all, you just made a big investment, and you have big plans for your impressive new yard.

We’re sod experts, but our skills don’t stop there. We’re with you every step of the way as you plan your perfect outdoor space.

Sod, irrigation, landscape design: Let us transform your Central Florida lawn from an embarrassing eyesore to a place you spend every spare minute.

Are you ready to enjoy the vibrant, impressive yard you've always wanted? Request a quote today! We’ll help you review your options and then transform your property.

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Image Source: webworm