Installing Sod: Factors to Consider
Deciding when to install sod can be difficult. It’s easy to become confused as there are a few factors to consider. We’re here to touch on a few of the important factors when it comes to installing sod and why they’re important.
Contrary to popular belief, sod CAN be installed at any time throughout the growing season. Keep in mind that some months are better than others due to the moisture found in the soil. When the weather is dry, sod requires more maintenance and care as there is less moisture available. Installing in the spring months will provide your sod with more moisture as they typically receive more rainfall. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have success in dryer months, it simply means that you need to water more diligently and pay very close attention to ensure your sod isn’t overheating.
Temperature is Key
Temperature is another key factor when installing sod. Your sod is at risk of overheating before/after it is laid in high temperatures, so install it shortly after delivery and ensure it gets watered immediately. It is also important to ensure that the temperatures are not too cold. If the ground freezes and is too hard, it will inhibit the sod from forming a root system, even with the addition of a nutrient rich soil.
In spring, ensure that the ground isn’t frozen and that the temperatures are going to remain above freezing to ensure adequate time for your sod to take root. It takes around 2 weeks for a shallow root system to develop, and up to 6 weeks for a deep root system. To install in the fall, give your sod at least 4-6 weeks before the ground fully freezes. This will give you the best results the following season.
Installing Sod… in the Rain?
Sod needs to be watered as quickly as possible after being installed. This can make it seem like laying sod in the rain is the way to go. This is a misconception. Installing sod in the rain can lead to many future problems. If it is only lightly drizzling, you could be in the clear, but heavy rains will definitely cause a problem. Excessive rain will turn your subgrade into mud, making it very easy for your steps to disrupt the underlying soil. This disruption will cause unevenness and air pockets under your sod. Rolling your sod to remove these air pockets will not work. The sod will slide around on top of the mud making an mess of your project. The soil should be lightly damp or dry when laying sod, so ensure that the rainwater has mostly dried up and you will not run into these preventable issues.
Despite all of these factors, none of it matters if you don’t actually have time to care for the sod. If you are planning a vacation soon after sod installation, your sod may not have a long future ahead. If leaving for a couple of days is unavoidable, have someone to come by and water for you. For post-sod installation maintenance tips, check out our maintenance article!
While it may be the easiest to achieve great results in the cooler months, with proper care and maintenance you will have success in the hotter summer months. Proper maintenance is key regardless of the temperature outside. Ensure that you put aside time to care for your sod. It can be a large investment and it would be a waste for your sod to fail because of improper planning!