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Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, and Zoysia can be laid year-round. This is because these grasses are typically planted in warm regions with few winter freezes.
Fall is the best time to lay cool-season grass sod, with optimal installation times between October and November. Warm-season grasses thrive best when laid in spring (March–April), but can also survive fall and winter installations. Avoid installing sod in summer, as high heat can dry out your new lawn.
Freezing temperatures are too cold for laying sod. Although sod can be harvested and laid in late fall, when morning frost is present, if daytime temperatures are consistently below 32℉ (0℃), it’s too late for sod installation.
Although frost and cold won’t kill sod on their own, be careful to avoid walking on frozen or frosted sod, as foot traffic on frozen grass can harm it.
Sod performs best when laid in moderate temperatures, between 55 and 80℉ (13–26℃). Although certain varieties of grass perform best at slightly different temperatures.
Of all times of year, summer is the worst time to lay sod. New sod requires frequent watering, and installing sod during heat and drought increases the chance a heatwave will dry out and kill your new sod.
Freezing temperatures will not kill sod. Unlike new grass seedlings, which may be killed by frost, sod is mature grass and can survive frost and freezes.
Sod may go dormant in cold temperatures, especially if you are installing warm-season grass in winter. This brown coloration does not signify that the grass is dead. Dormant sod will green up in spring.
The best time of year to lay sod depends on the grass variety. Cool-season grass sod thrives when it is laid in the fall, when daytime temperatures are 55–65℉ (13–18℃). Warm-season grass sod does best in spring, when temperatures are 65–80℉ (18–26℃).
Warm-season grasses experience most of their root growth in early spring. Because a healthy lawn from sod requires the sod to root into the soil below, take advantage of natural grass growth cycles and install sod at the right time for the variety you choose.
Warm-season grass sod, such as St. Augustine, Bermuda, and Centipede grass, can be laid in winter as long as the ground is not frozen. Typically, these grasses will be dormant in winter, so you’ll be laying brown sod. Don’t worry, the grass will green up in spring.
Warm-season grasses are commonly installed in winter when necessary.
Do not install cool-season grass in winter. Freezing temperatures make purchasing and laying sod difficult.
If you live in a region that gets cold enough to experience freezes, snow, and ice, you will likely be installing cool-season sod. Winter is not a good time to install a new cool-season grass lawn. It can be difficult to find a sod supplier, and laying sod in these conditions is hard work, especially if you have to clear snow off the lawn.
In regions with freezing winters, sod cannot be harvested year-round. If the ground is frozen, don’t expect to be able to get any sod deliveries. The machinery required for harvesting sod isn’t designed to cut through frozen soil.
If you live in a temperate area, you can get sod in winter. Often, the turf you purchase at this time of year will be dormant, but it is still available.
New sod requires moisture no matter the weather. If you lay sod late in the year, or during winter, it likely has very little watering needs beyond natural precipitation, but soil moisture should be monitored. Here’s how to keep your sod healthy in cold conditions:
As temperatures rise, increase watering frequency for your sod. Sod that has not yet taken root requires daily watering to keep it from shrinking.
Sod can be laid much later in the year than grass seed. When laying sod late in the year, keep these rules in mind.
Just remember that sod requires water and fertilizer no matter what time of year you lay it. Even dormant grass must be kept moist enough to prevent winter desiccation. With a little care, you can lay sod just before winter sets in and have a beautiful turf lawn by spring.
Because Texas is such a large state, the best grass to grow depends on the region. Below is a simple breakdown of the best turf grasses by Texas region.
As you can see, Bermuda grass and Zoysia can be cultivated throughout Texas and especially thrive in the eastern half of the state. St. Augustine grows well in heavy shade lawns in Southeast Texas.
Reasons for Dormancy?
Warm-season grasses go dormant in cold weather, naturally. In most cases, the grasses' crowns remain alive, and, in hot situations, water may revive the grasses. If that is the case, don’t worry: Dormancy is a natural, built-in protection mechanism, and your grass probably will return when the weather warms up in the spring.
Dead grass is hard to detect, especially during hot summer months, when grass often becomes dormant as a response to heat and accompanying drier soil, and during winter months, when grass becomes dormant as a response to cold temperatures. One of the best ways to detect whether or not grass is dead in hot summer months is to keep watering it. Keeping grass green with irrigation can help highlight brown areas that might be dead. In winter, when grass is dormant because of cold weather, determining whether or not grass is dead can be more difficult, and you may have to wait until spring to see if it comes out of dormancy.
Sod Doesn't Take Root Properly
Sod rooting occurs in two stages: shallow rooting and deep rooting. Shallow rooting typically occurs during the first two weeks after sod installation, and then deep rooting begins to occur.
If your new sod does not establish a shallow root system after two weeks, or if your sod has failed to move past the shallow root stage for several weeks, don't despair. Your sod can still establish a good root system once you find the cause of the rooting problem.
If you notice poor contact between your sod and the soil beneath it, then you have a case of floating sod that can discourage proper sod rooting. To help floating sod integrate with the soil underneath it, water your sod then run a garden roller over it.
Improper Sod Watering
Insufficient watering during the first three weeks after installation may cause your sod to become dormant, under-watering can still interfere with sod shallow root system development. Be sure to water your sod frequently during the first three weeks after installation to encourage deep rooting.
Mowing Your Sod Too Short
Photosynthesis, which is the process grass and other plants use to create food when exposed to the sun, occurs in grass blades. The food created when the sun strikes grass blades is sent to plant roots to nourish them.
Due to their greater surface area, longer grass blades produce more nutrients than shorter grass blades do. So you should avoid mowing your sod too short in the early weeks while it struggles to establish a good root system.
If you will have sod installed in your yard soon, plan to care for it properly to keep the grass in good shape and encourage proper sod rooting.