If you are not happy with your lawn, then you can always replace the sod. But can sod be laid in the winter? The answer is yes if you use the right type of grass and the proper techniques. In fact, laying sod in the winter is an excellent idea if you want your lawn to look good in the spring and summer months.
Laying sod in winter offers some advantages for both homeowners with existing lawns, and new home construction where bare dirt is exposed after the top layer of the soil has been removed. If the sod can support new plant growth, it should be put into place as soon as practical to prevent erosion.
One of the best reasons to put in new sod during the winter months, especially if the ground is bare, is to limit erosion. Grass is excellent for erosion control. Its roots may be small, but they are plentiful. The roots help keep the soil in place during the winter winds, rains, and snow that could otherwise erode precious topsoil.
Types of Grasses
When homeowners ask if sod can be laid in the winter, they typically miss a significant factor, the type of grass they use. Not all grasses are the same, and some do quite well in the winter months, though for very different reasons.
Cool Season and Warm Season Grasses
Cool season grasses like tall fescue remain green during the winter months. They can thrive under cold conditions and even grow in winter depending on the temperature.
Warm season grasses are dormant during the winter months. But they can also do well when planted in the winter. Warm season grasses are brown during the winter, but they doesn’t mean they can’t take hold. Warm season grasses laid in the winter can still turn green and grow in the spring and summer months.
Getting Started Laying Sod in the Winter
If you have the right variety, sod can be laid in the winter. The first step is preparing your lawn for the new sod. You’ll need to determine the appropriate type of sod to put into place. It’s not just about laying the sod but also includes its requirements for maintenance. You should consider the texture you want, the water requirements, shade trees on your lawn, and soil type. The more you know, the better-informed decisions you can make about the new sod for your lawn.
Types of Grass
There is a wide selection of grass varieties to choose from, so you’ll need to make some choices. Warm seasons sod grasses that can be laid in the winter months include TifBlair Centipede, TifGrand Bermuda, and TifTuf Bermuda. Also, grasses that are native to your region should work well even when laid during the winter months.
To calculate the amount of sod that you need, first multiply the length by the width of your yard to get an overall area measurement. Next, subtract for your driveway, walkways, patio, or any other hardscaped areas. If you have an oddly shaped lawn, you may need to break it down into smaller pieces to get the right measurements.
Now that you have enough sod, the next step is to prepare the lawn itself. The process is straightforward but will take time if you are doing the work yourself. First, you need to kill the grass that still exists on your lawn, then till it to a depth of no less than 4″, but no more than 6″.
Once you remove any grass or vegetation remaining in the soil and finish tilling, level out the lawn with a rake. Next, add fertilizer or compost to help your new grass grow. We suggest conducting a soil test to ensure that you have the right fertilizers and amendments to help the new sod take hold.
Laying the Sod
Before you lay sod, use a garden hose or sprinkler to dampen the area where the sod will go. To apply the sod, start near the straightest edge of your lawn and work your way across. Lay the sod in a pattern similar to laying bricks. Connect the pieces of each row one by one in as straight a line as possible. Roll out the sod pieces one at a time, making sure the roller is filled with water to reduce air pockets, so the roots don’t dry out.
One exception to this method is laying sod on a slope. In that case, lay each section lengthwise down the hill, maintaining the brickwork pattern. Once you have applied all the sod, water the lawn immediately to help matt down the roots and spur growth.
If you water the sod properly and the roots start to take hold, they can survive the freezing conditions of winter. Keep in mind that if the temperatures are below freezing, you shouldn’t irrigate the new sod. Instead, wait for temperatures to go above freezing before watering. Ideally, don’t lay sod at all if the temperatures are low enough for water to freeze on your lawn.
For homeowners who ask can sod be laid in the winter, the short answer is yes. Winter is an excellent time of the year to put in new sod if the weather conditions are right. By doing the work during the winter months, your new lawn will be in better shape for new growth come spring and summer.