Establishing a lawn from sod

If you are thinking of sodding your lawn or need to fill in bare spots injured by last winter’s cold temperatures, here are some steps to help you get started.

Warm-season grasses popular in Arkansas are Bermuda grass, zoysia grass, St. Augustine grass and centipede grass, and are usually established from sprigs, plugs or sod. While all four are grown in central Arkansas, not all are suited for all lawn situations.

For example, Bermuda grass is very drought-tolerant and requires less watering during dry times, but it must have full sun and cannot grow in the shaded areas of lawns. While St. Augustine grass is the most shade tolerant of the four, it can be injured by several hours of low temperatures during unpredictable Arkansas winters.

Choosing the correct sod for your lawn can be a difficult task, so spend the time and effort to get the correct sod for your situation. We have a helpful fact sheet at (FSA 2112 Choosing a Grass for Arkansas Lawns).

You may lay sod successfully year-round but sodding in spring or early summer while grasses are actively growing allows rapid rooting. Giving warm-season grasses time to develop an extensive root system before cold weather arrives enhances their ability to resist winter injury. Also, planting during May and June coincides with the time when the chances of rainfall are greatest, thus reducing dependence on irrigation. Due to construction deadlines, it is sometimes necessary to lay sod during winter months when warm-season grasses are dormant. Dormant sodding can be successful but is more risky than sodding in the spring and early summer due to increased risk of winter injury.

Prior to planting, water to moisten the soil. It is important to schedule this watering in advance to avoid a muddy site when sod installation begins. Do not lay sod on dry soil. Even if sod is watered immediately after being laid on dry soil, root growth will be retarded. Lay sod soon after it is delivered. The longer the sod sits on the pallet, the more it will deteriorate. This is especially important when dormant sodding. Laying dormant sod quickly after delivery will help protect the sod from freeze injury because of the latent heat in the soil. As soon as the sod is installed and rolled, begin to water the lawn thoroughly. Moisten the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Irrigate daily until the sod becomes well rooted, usually about 10 days. After the sod is established, decrease the frequency and increase the amount of water per application. Most grasses are fairly well rooted within 10 to 14 days if watered properly. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to keep people off the lawn for three to four weeks until the grass has become well anchored. After the sod is well rooted, cut with a sharp mower to avoid tearing and pulling the grass. Start off at a slightly higher mowing height than what is ultimately desired. Despite all efforts to create a smooth surface with good site preparation and planting, some undulations will still remain. Mowing slightly higher initially will prevent scalping of the newly sodded lawn.

Apply fertilizer four weeks after installation. Doing a soil test is the best method for determining your fertilizer needs. (To have a soil test done, bring at least one pint of your soil to the Garland County Extension Service.) However, a pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet is a good target rate. Delay nitrogen fertilizer applications until April or May (after full green-up) if sod is installed in the offseason while dormant.

Visit for more information on this subject, contact our office located at 236 Woodbine, or call 501-623-6841.

4-H Club information

For information about Garland County 4-H Club membership or program benefits, contact Linda Bates at the Garland County Cooperative Extension office located at 236 Woodbine, call 501-623-6841, or email [email protected] Additional information is available at

Master Gardener information

If you have an interest in gardening, you may want to apply to become a Master Gardener. You may obtain an application by calling our office to have one emailed to you, or by picking one up at the Cooperative Extension office, 236 Woodbine. You’re welcome to attend the monthly Master Gardener meeting which is held on the third Thursday of each month, 12:30 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 132 Abbott Place. The meetings are open to the public and guests are always welcome. Call the Extension office at 623-6841 for more information.

EHC information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For information on EHC, call 623-6841 or email Alison Crane at [email protected] Follow Alison on Facebook @garlandEGF and @Garland FCS, and EHC on Facebook @GarlandCountyEHC.

Society on 04/15/2019

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