A common misconception is that sod must be laid during the typical growing season in order to be successful. The logic seems sound… “If I plant all my veggies in the spring, isn’t that the best time to lay sod?”. Even though sod can be successfully laid throughout the spring and the summer, installing sod during fall actually achieves the best results.
Summer Sod Growth
Grass is an amazing plant and it has a fairly unique growing cycle. In the spring when moisture, nutrients, and sunlight are abundant, the grass leaves grow vigorously. The more leaf that is exposed above ground, the more sunlight the plant is able to absorb. This abundance of sunlight helps to fuel the grass that is recovering from winter dormancy. Once the heat of summer hits and water and nutrients become harder to come by, the grass slows its’ growth down and can actually go dormant in the most dry and hot conditions. This slowing of the growth makes sure that the plant can conserve resources to survive the summer.
Fall Sod Growth
Now, onto the ideal sod laying season: fall. Grass growth begins vigorously again when the cooler weather brings more rain. Fall growth is much different than spring growth, however. The leaves tend to not grow as much, but fall is when roots grow the most. In preparation for winter when grass will usually go dormant, the roots reach deep down into the ground. This boost in root growth is ideal for establishing fall sod. The faster the roots can start to grow, the faster you will have a lush, beautiful lawn. Increased rains in the fall also alleviate the constant need to irrigate; another upside to laying sod in autumn.
The cooler weather is also good for fall sod because it is a living product. In the middle of summer when it is hot and humid, not only do we get tired and sweaty working outside, but sod tends to have a much shorter shelf life too. By cooling the grass, the lower temperatures lower the risk of ruining the grass in transit or storage. It’s also much more pleasant to work when the sun isn’t beating down on us… However, even in fall conditions we recommend laying sod within 12 hours of harvest for the best results.
Remember to always follow the watering schedule, and be sure to water on days when there’s little to no rain. Head to this link for a full “How-to Install Sod Guide”.