Thinking about laying sod this time of year?

Thinking about laying dormant sod this time of year?

Laying sod this time of year, such as Bermudagrass or Zoysiagrass, is possible but sometimes can be risky. The roots of the dormant grass are still active but if low temperatures arrive and get below freezing, it can cause irreversible damage that can lead the dormant turf to death. Zoysiagrass is actually more expensive and furthermore more sensitive than Bermudagrass. However, if warm season grasses are going to be established while still dormant, there are certain practices that are encouraged to help make the installation a success.

dormant sod

Prepare your soil for the new sod.  First, pull a soil analysis prior to laying the new sod. This will give you great information, such as the ph in the soil and the fertility needs. If the is a problem with the ph, tilling in the correct amount of lime or sulfur prior to laying the sod is best. Also adding fertilizer based off of the analysis can be applied. Remember nitrogen is not taken up by a dormant grass and leaches out of the soil quite rapidly. Therefore, nitrogen should not be applied in any form to a dormant grass. The soil temperature needs to be over 60 degrees or higher before nitrogen is added for green up and top growth for the plant. However the roots, during the dormant stage, are still somewhat active and it can be beneficial applying potassium, which is for root development, if the soil analysis shows that it is needed. Next, when sodding a dormant turf, lay the sod within 24-48 hours of being harvested from the sod farm. The “shelf life” of sod is not too long on a roll or a pallet after being cut. If the roots freeze or dry out prior to being established in the soil, serious injury or death may occur. As the sod is laid, be sure to lay it tightly together and roll it down to ensure good root to soil contact. And lastly, make sure to water the new sod, even if it is dormant. Even though the sod is not actively growing, the roots are still alive and taking in nutrients to keep the turf alive. Always check the soil to ensure there is good moisture throughout the winter months. Generally rainfall throughout the cooler months keeps moisture in the soil at good levels. If we do not get adequate rainfall, apply at least 1” of water every two weeks to keep your sod from drying out. Unfortunately, sod that is affected by low temperatures or dries out and dies is often times not noticed until “green up” the following spring. If you need any help or advice in preparing or installing your lawn with new sod, please call our office. We will be glad to help you with a FREE consultation for your sodding needs.

Scott Riley

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