New sod: What you need to consider with a robotic mower

New Sod: What You Need to Consider With a Robotic Mower

The sod in your yard has just been laid, the robotic mower is ready, but can you just start mowing now? After all, freshly laid sod is subject to special rules regarding mowing and maintenance. Does that also apply to a robotic mower? And what special features do you have to consider when using a robotic mower?

What should be the procedure for mowing new sod with the robotic mower? Robotic mowers can mow sod from day one because they are much lighter than lawnmowers. However, it is advisable to wait a few days until the lawn is about 2 inches tall. Special care must be taken to ensure that the blades are sharp. If in doubt, they should be replaced before.

I will explain the exact procedure for maintaining a freshly-sodded lawn with a robotic mower in the next few paragraphs.

Why Does Sod Require Special Care?

Sod is nothing more than a cut and rolled up piece of lawn. To prevent the roll from becoming too thick and heavy, the sod is just an inch or two thick. As a result, the grass only has shallow roots.

Since the roots of the plant are still rather shallow after the lawn has been rolled out and have yet to develop properly, the lawn can only reach available water reservoirs in the soil to a very limited extent. For this reason, it must be watered very regularly in the first days and weeks.

The fact that the lawn is not yet properly rooted to the ground, however, leads to another problem: The lawn is quite loose and can be easily torn out by certain mechanical forces.

Since fresh turf needs to be watered very often and very thoroughly, the soil is practically constantly soaked with water. This makes it relatively soft and slushy. Therefore, you must be especially careful when you walk on the lawn. This is also the reason why you should not mow the lawn at all in the first week with a conventional lawnmower, as it is so heavy that it leaves very clear marks in the very damp soil.

Last but not least, the grass in sod is a very young plant. It must not be mowed too short at the beginning, otherwise new roots may not develop. This creates gaps and holes in the lawn.

For the lawn to grow well, it must nevertheless be mowed often. With a normal mower, it should be mowed at least once a week, but not in the first week. As the owner of a robotic mower this problem is of course obsolete, as your robotic mower can and should mow every day.

So let’s get our facts in order:

  • The roots of the sod grass are relatively shallow
  • For this reason, the lawn must be watered a lot during the rooting phase (6 weeks), especially in the first week
  • This makes the sod very soft, so it gives way slightly when weight is resting on it
  • Therefore, normal lawnmowers cannot be used at all in the first week, because a lot watering and growing has to be done
  • Due to the shallow roots, the lawn is easy to tear out
  • The still quite young lawn must not be mowed too short, as individual shoots will no longer bud and gaps will develop

This is What You Have to Consider when Using a Robotic Mower

  • Pay particular attention on slopes
  • Blades must be sharp
  • Set cutting height to 2 inches
  • The robotic mower should be lighter than 45 lb

In principle, unlike a conventional lawnmower, you can use a robotic mower on sod from day one. It is actually very suitable for maintaining a new sodded lawn, because it can mow the lawn frequently and is also very light, so it does not disturb the saturated soil too much.

Caution on Slopes

Nevertheless, you have to pay attention to a few things here as well. The robotic mower is very light and changes direction constantly, so it doesn’t leave permanent tracks. This is its advantage over normal lawnmowers. However, it can also stir up the ground in certain places. In particular, you must be careful when using a robotic mower in the following places.

  • In places with a steep gradient
  • On narrow passages that are frequently used
  • In the area in front of the robotic mower garage
  • Everywhere else where the robotic mower drives longer than average

Especially in combination with a lot of wetness, inclines can become a problem, not only with sod. Even with an “adult” lawn that is already super rooted, the wetness plus a large incline can cause fatal damage to the lawn. The robotic mower will not be able to get a proper grip on the wet grass, which causes its wheels to spin and churn up the lawn. Imagine what the robotic mower would then do to fresh sod

In normal operation, one tries to counteract this with a rain sensor when there are large slopes in the yard. But when a fresh sod lawn takes root, the lawn and the ground are wet all the time.

Sharpness of Blades and Cutting Height

The blades of the robotic mower should be particularly sharp when mowing a rolled lawn. Dull blades tend to pluck the lawn instead of cutting it properly. This is a particularly big problem with fresh sod, as parts of the lawn that are still poorly rooted can be torn out so easily.

The blades of robotic mowers with blade discs are quite short-lived and must be replaced every 1 to 3 months. Not all robotic mowers have such blade discs, but some do. HUSQVARNA and WORX, for example, are well-known brands that use blade discs. Due to their short life span, it is not so unlikely that the blades on your robotic mower become dull before you realize it.

It is really important that you check the sharpness of the blades before you use your robotic mower on the fresh sod, even if you only replaced them last week.

As for the cutting height, I can give you a very simple answer: 2 inches.

With new sod, you have most likely re-laid the boundary wire, which means you should use the maximum cutting height anyway, so that the robotic mower does not accidentally catch the boundary wire. This would be 2 ½ to 3 inches depending on the robotic mower.

However, fresh sod should be mowed to 2 inches in height. This is tall enough to still be able to ensure that the boundary wire does not get into the mowing deck. It will take a while for the boundary wire to sink into the lawn, especially on rolled lawns, but you should in any case mow to 2 inches for a while until the lawn has grown properly.

Of course, you might have had the idea to lay the boundary wire under the sod. However, I personally do not think this is a good idea, as I have already explained in this article.

Weight of the Robotic Mower

As I have already mentioned in a few places, it is important not to put too much pressure on the lawn and the ground in the first week when the sod still needs to be watered particularly heavily.

Especially heavy equipment with wheels, such as a lawnmower, can leave permanent marks. In principle, robotic mowers can be used on the first day, as most robotic mowers are now quite light.

However, older robotic mower models can weigh a considerable amount. Today, almost only lithium-ion batteries are used in robotic mowers, but in the past, other batteries that are much heavier were also popular. Especially old lead-gel batteries can be very heavy were sometimes also used in robotic mowers.

The robotic mower should not weigh more than 45 lb if you want to use it immediately. If you have an older device, it is not a bad idea to check its weight again.

Related Questions

When should new sod be mowed for the first time? Sod should be mowed for the first time after 7 days at the earliest, after 10 days for shade grass, and at the latest when the lawn has reached a height of 2 inches. Due to their weight, mowers should not mow the rolled lawn in the first week. Robotic mowers are considerably lighter and can in principle mow the rolled lawn from the first day, even if this is not absolutely necessary.

How often and how much should sod be watered at the beginning? In the first few days after installation, turf should be watered at 5 gallons per square meter so that the entire area of sod is soaked with water. This is necessary every day in Summer when it is very hot, otherwise every other day. After 2 to 3 weeks, the sod only needs to be watered once or twice a week.


Matthias Müller is the founder of He is passionate about all topics related to automation, robotics and future technologies. At the same time he is a great nature lover and therefore fascinated by the unusual interaction between robots and nature.


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