How Long Before Dogs Can Walk on Sod?

How Long Before Dogs Can Walk on Sod

Looking over a newly sodded lawn is a great feeling. Whether you finally installed the turf of your dreams or you were able to fix up damaged or fading areas, the uniformity of fresh grass in your yard is the makings of a beautiful lawn. That is, until your dog starts pawing at the door, indicating it’s time to go out now.

Sod on soil needs time to build strong roots and take hold in healthy soil. Fresh sod has weak roots, and heavy foot traffic as well as urine damage are expected from our furry friends and will damage and kill the lawn. It is obvious we need to keep our dogs away and allow time for the sod to root.

How long should we keep dogs off new grass? That depends on the type of grass and biological activities the turf will encounter. Read on to find out more. 

How Long Before Dogs Can Go on Sod?

In general, you will want to keep your canine friend off of new sod for the first 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the turf type. A hardy, low, growing warm-season turf like Bermuda grass will be able to take traffic much faster than a slower-growing cool-season turf like tall fescue.

Better soil conditions can also speed up development so your dogs can use their yard sooner. Eventually, walking may be tolerated, whereas rough play and potty spots will still be too damaging. Constantly monitor sod when a dog is finally allowed back on the lawn. 

Is it Important to Keep Dogs off of New Sod?

Laying Sod

If you want to give new sod a chance at surviving, there are several things you will need to do. First, you will want to amend unhealthy soil or acidic soil with all-natural soil amendments to encourage healthy roots. Then you will want to provide plenty of water since a well-watered lawn is a healthy lawn. Finally, you need to use a temporary fence or another method to keep dogs off your turf. 

If you keep your dogs off of sod until the lawn is established, you can achieve a lush lawn faster since the turf can focus on growing instead of constantly needing to heal broken blades. Sometimes dogs will run randomly or push hard into the soil to chase perceived prey. Even if you only meant to walk your dog across, these slight accidents can shave months off of your sod’s progress. 

If your dog is able to create urine spots without your knowledge, it will cause damage to the grass and possibly urine damage to the top layer of soil. You can drench the soil with water if your dog unexpectedly went, but it is best to stop dogs from walking on new sod, even if they are just crossing it on the way out of the yard. 

Advantages to Keeping Dogs away from New Sod?

Our dogs love their lawn, and it can be heartbreaking to keep them inside, even if it’s to give them better grass down the line. You can’t really explain that to them, so it pays off to keep the advantages of keeping your dogs off new sod firmly in your mind. When your resolve starts to slip, remember these reasons to protect your sod from dog damage. 

Reduces Dead Spots

Dogs are hard on lawns, and even the toughest turf may occasionally need rehabilitation to deal with the day-to-day toll of canines running around. Urine damage and heavy foot traffic will lead to brown patches of turf that may end up as dead patches. If you want to keep your turf strong, keep dogs off until the roots are grown. 

Increased Growth Rate

Sod time to root is dependent on a variety of reasons, but constant healing of blades is a constant deterrent to swift root growth. Anytime sod is trampled, it will stop sending energy to root growth and repair the blades that collect the sunlight needed for photosynthesis. If you keep the turf safe, then the grass can focus on root development and blade growth, not healing. Reduced compaction from foot traffic also improves sod growth rates. 

Maximize Your Effort and Minimize Expense

Laying sod on your lawn is not the cheapest project, and with all the costly home improvements, you never want to have to redo what has already been done. Letting your dogs run on new sod is essentially like letting a child run through the house with a permanent marker right after painting the walls. If you can keep your dogs off of your lawn for at least a month, you can greatly increase the chances that the first time is the only time you will need to lay costly sod. 

Prevents Spread of Weed Seeds 

Dogs can bring weed seeds onto new sod with their paws and fur and deposit them where they can outcompete new turf. This is a problem, especially if your area has some known invasive weeds. If in an attempt to keep your dog from urinating on your sod, you take them to a park, there is a chance you will bring weed seeds back with you.

These seeds can be dangerous to lawns and completely undo the hard work you put in. Certain lawn pests can also be introduced to our sod this way, like fire ants and certain termites. 

Destructive Dog Activity

Dogs are hard on yards, but there are things you can do to help turf cope with the damage. A good mowing and watering schedule, as well as proper fertilization and aeration, can allow a lawn to deal with much more wear and tear than a poorly maintained one. One of the best ways to help your lawn is to be aware of which activities your dog will be up to in your yard and what damage it can do. Below are some of the most destructive activities dogs do on lawns. 

Activity Damage DoneHarm to Lawn
RunningCompaction and tearingAllows weeds and disease to take hold
DiggingBlade and root damage Dead grass and bare earth
UrinatingGrass discoloration and root damageThis leads to acidity in the soil and the death of grass
RollingCompaction and turf rippingWeakens grass and promotes weed growth

Physical Damage

Some dogs will gently walk around a lawn and sniff the flowers, watch the birds, and then collapse in a nice shady corner for a well-deserved nap. Others will burn across your turf like a bat out of hell, digging, chewing, and flopping around. The amount of damage one or two playful puppies can do to a lawn is staggering, so make sure you know your breed and what games can be played in which area of the lawn. 

Chemical Damage

Dogs will likely bring in all kinds of containments and invasive species that can infect your lawn and lead to loads of future lawn issues. The main chemical damage comes from pet urine, and the buildup of urine can make it exceedingly hard for new turf to grow. Damage from animal urine can be severe and kill turf that isn’t protected from it.

Washing dogs in the lawn can also lead to chemicals that aren’t great for our lawn’s growth to slow or hinder development. Any dog washing should be done on an established lawn or paved surfaces. 

Ways to Reduce Physical Damage by Dogs to Sod

Dog on Lawn

It is clear that keeping dogs off of new turf is crucial, but how is it possible? Lawns and dogs go hand in hand, and it is hard to restrict the entire lawn reducing a dog’s time outside. There are a few solutions that allow you to rehabilitate your lawn and share spaces with your dog. Keeping the new sod and our pets separate but still happy is key and what some of the following methods aim to achieve. 

Physical Barriers

A temporary fence is a tried and true method of keeping pets from areas of the yard they shouldn’t be in. What you construct your fence out of depends on how big your dog is and what you have lying around. Some fences may need to be steel or wood, whereas other construction can be made of rigid netting or plastic.

Make sure that your dogs cannot jump over or dig under the barrier and that there is a border of established turf to prevent urine or pawing damage along the fence line. 

Leash or Runs

You can walk your dog through the yard for a few weeks to give the sod time to grow. Try to not walk the same path every day, or you may compact areas and do more harm than good to the rest of your lawn. If you do not have time schedule that allows for this, you can also hook up a dog run and attach the harness to that.

Your dog can run along a pre-traced path but will not be able to reach the new sod. This can be a good solution but move the runs regularly to avoid ruts in the lawn. 

Electric Fences

If you already utilize shock collars and fences to keep your dog in the yard, then you can adjust them to exclude the sod from their area. I have never used these and don’t find them particularly kind, but if it is what your dog is trained to respond to then, it can be used to keep them away from sod. Any other methods would be better if the adjustment can be made. 

Training

Using scents, marking posts, or adding targets can give your dog the confidence to use the right areas of the yard on command. Keeping an eye on the initial period after training is recommended, as a dog can kill new sod very quickly if allowed to.

Make sure to give your dog no reason to go on new sod, and you should be able to avoid any problems as well as the expense of barriers. It is possible to keep your dog off of new sod, and if you do it well, then your new lawn will thank you.