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Sodding Lawns

Sodding Lawns

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Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Sod is often used to establish lawns. Although initially more expensive, sod has several advantages; 1) the lawn is established faster﷓﷓two to three weeks to root firmly compared to 3﷓4 months for seed; 2) sod can be laid in midsummer when seeding is difficult; 3) a lawn can be established more readily on a steep slope or terrace; 4) sod can be used for immediate repair of bare areas in established grass.

Use only top quality sod that contains desirable varieties of permanent grasses, is acceptably green and free of weeds. Bluegrass and bluegrass blends are used in most sod grown in Utah. Check with sod dealer on the grass varieties. Mixtures or blends of three or more grasses have the highest resistance to diseases and insects. If shade is a problem, select a sod that contains some shade tolerant grasses. If a shade tolerant sod is not available, overseed sod after it has been established with grass that is shade tolerant.

Sod is perishable. Do not leave it rolled or folded in warm weather. In hot weather, store sod in the shade or lightly water the exposed sod surfaces. If it cannot be laid immediately, covers may be used to keep the sod from drying. During cooler weather, sod may be kept for several days without any noticeable damage. If necessary, sod can be unrolled on concrete or plastic sheeting and watered until permanently laid.

Lay the first course or row of sod along a straight line across the width of the site. In the next row, stagger the end joints as if laying bricks. Individual sod pieces should be placed close to one another but should not overlap. Do not stretch the sod during the laying process. When laying sod on slopes work from the lowest point to the top. Lay the sod strips across, not up and down the slope. On steep slopes pegging or stalking is necessary to keep the sod in position until it roots. Water the soil if the weather is hot. Laying dry sod on dry soil keeps the roots from growing quickly. Work prepared topsoil into any noticeable joints or seams that develop between the sod pieces. This prevents excessive drying of the ends of the pieces and avoids spaces.

Keep the sod well﷓watered but not saturated, until it is firmly rooted (2 to 3 weeks). Prevent concentrated traffic on the sod during this time. After it is firmly rooted, the sodded areas are managed like other established lawns.

Water a newly sodded lawn with increasing amounts of water, applied less frequently as it becomes established. Add water when grass shows signs of stress (turns a blue﷓black color or footprints remain in the lawn after walking across it). Fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer every 4﷓6 weeks. Mow the lawn at 2½ to 3 inches.

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