Grass won't grow in my backyard

Asked May 4, 2015, 11:26 PM EDT

I have had sod placed in my backyard twice in the last three years. Each time it died. I have had success growing grass in the yard for years before the sod was laid. I watered it as directed. The professional lawn service personnel have told me the grass died because the yard is heavily shaded. I don't believe that. My neighbor has healthy grass even though he has a huge maple tree that shades his backyard. Before I spend any more money on the yardI need to know why the grass won't grow. Can you help?

Brookings County South Dakota

5 Responses


I have several questions for you. First what time of the year did you have the sod laid? When the weather is very warm it is much harder to get sod started as it is easy to over or under water it for the conditions throughout the day. I have found it is easier to get sod and/or grass seed started either in early spring or late summer/fall. The temperatures are not so hot at the height of the day so there is less stress on the grass. It is easier to keep the area moist without over watering. Typically the sod is syringed with water. That means that light amounts of water sprayed on the grass many times a day during the hottest parts of the day. It is not necessary to water at night or later in the evening as temperatures drop and the sun gets low in the sky. Is this a new yard or was there grass there previously? Have any weed killers been put on the ground? What trees are in this area and how big are they?

Not sure if you received my previous email answers to your questions. Will try again. Sod was laid in May and June. It was watered according to directions from professional lawn care expert--around the clock for two days and then when needed to keep the dirt moist. Used a spray hose. This is not a new lawn. Grass has grown here for 25 years before the sod was laid. Weed killer was applied with fertilizer once sod was laid. There are three mature trees in the yard: two maples and a black walnut. There are also 35 arborvitae planted along the fence. They are about eight feet tall. The maples and black walnut are about 60 feet tall with large trunks. Can't get your arms around them.

Ok, first I wouldn't put a weed killer on the new sod for at least 2 months after it is laid. Turf can be very susceptible to herbicides when they are stressed such as new sod or new grass from seed. The same with fertilizer, hold off on that until the grass has rooted and become established. Fertilizer can burn young tender roots and the grass will not need that at first. I am not sure what your soil would be like in this spot, if it is nice black dirt that is great. Watering for two days straight seems like a lot. Initially it is important to make sure the soil underneath the sod stays wet. So you may need to water heavily for the first day to get plenty of moisture into the ground so the roots will want to go down. This year where the ground is so dry that may take more water. It would be a good idea to prep the soil by watering it thoroughly so that the new sod goes onto wet soil and not waiting until the sod is laid which could leave you with dry spots that could die. After the sod is laid, watered thoroughly the first day, you will then want to water several times a day to keep the humidity up around the leaves but to not saturate the entire area. Now that doesn't mean you won't have to water it again thoroughly after a few days. Continue to syringe the sod several times a day untl the roots start to move into the soil below. Gradually syringe the sod less, you will probably need to focus on the hotter parts of the day, as this will be the most stressful time for the grass. The leaves will loose more water than the roots (which are mostly cut off) will be able to take up. As the day cools back down in the evening and when it is cool in the morning you may not have to syringe at all. It takes special attention for several weeks to be sure not to over water or underwater the sod. Hope this helps,


Should I have the soil tested in the yard before trying grass again? Should I seed the yard instead of using sod? Will grass grow in the yard?


Let's talk, give me a call at 605-688-5545. I think that might be a quicker way to figure out what to do:)