Sod is an excellent way to achieve an envy-worthy lawn. Instead of going through the tedious work of prepping the soil, planting grass seed, and meticulously watering multiple times a day, sod gives you an instant lawn. If you’re considering laying sod to create a beautiful lawn, you might be wondering when is the best time to lay sod.
Is winter the best time to do it, as some folks say? Or will the sod die when the temperatures dip below freezing? Contrary to what some may think, most sod does just fine when it freezes, providing it’s installed correctly.
Can You Lay Sod Before A Freeze?
Absolutely, you can lay sod before a freeze without issues. When you initially lay sod, it doesn’t immediately take root. Instead, it rests, the dormant grass lying under the frost that appears on your lawn. While it’s not a good idea to lay sod on top of the frosty ground, you shouldn’t have issues laying sod before a freeze.
When you lay sod before the freeze, the soil protects the roots from frost. Since the roots are safely tucked away in the layer of soil, they’ll remain unaffected by the frozen temperatures.
Late fall or early winter, when the temperatures drop from the summer highs, is a great time to lay sod. The grass doesn’t dry out nearly as quickly, which is the leading cause of sod failure. On top of that, the sod requires less water since it’s dormant in the winter.
How Cold Is Too Cold For Sod?
If you’re installing sod, choose a cool, but not freezing, day. It’s too cold for a winter installation when daytime temperatures consistently dip beneath 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature is cool enough that both the ground and the sod are frozen, it’s too cold to install your new sod. Deep freezes can damage new sod, so avoid installing it when temperatures drop this low.
If the sod is already installed, it should be just fine against the cold weather.
Of course, some grasses are more resilient than others, so make sure you choose sod that is appropriate for your region. Laid sod remains dormant throughout the winter until spring brings warmer weather. Once the higher temperatures arrive, the roots begin to grow deeper in search of water and nutrition.
Rolled sod usually lasts about a week in cooler temperatures after its harvested. The cooler air temperatures slow down the decomposition process that begins to take place after the sod is harvested. So, if you plan to install it one day, but the temperatures are uncharacteristically chilly, you can wait a few days to install it.
Make sure you install it within this timeframe to avoid issues, though. When the air temperatures are high in the summer, harvested sod decomposes more quickly. But, since winter temperatures are usually much cooler than summer highs, you have more time to install it before it deteriorates.
Will New Sod Die If It Freezes?
The answer to this question is yes and no. If the sod is installed correctly when the freeze occurs, there shouldn’t be any issues. As we mentioned earlier, the roots are protected, so the frost on top shouldn’t be an issue.
Generally, sod holds up fine under frost and brief cold snaps. Of course, more cold-tolerant varieties perform better, but most grasses do just fine. If your warm-season sod experiences a few nighttime frosts or a few days of chilly weather, don’t stress. As long as the temperatures in your area are usually warmer, the sod should be okay.
However, if the sod isn’t installed and rolled improperly, the freezing temperatures can kill it. So, be careful to follow the guidelines for caring for and installing new sod.
Should I Water Sod If It’s Going To Freeze?
Usually, yes, you should water sod before a freeze is expected. Moist sod retains heat better than dry sod, so it tends to survive a freeze better. Water the sod evenly for about ten to twenty minutes before the freeze is expected.
Once the temperatures dip into the lower range, the watering schedule looks a bit different. Throughout the cold winter months, you should only water new sod if the air temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the soil isn’t frozen. So, if the temperature is going to dip below freezing or if the ground is frozen, avoid watering the sod.
When the temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and the ground isn’t frozen, you can water your sod. During the winter, you might only need to water the sod once or twice per month, although it depends on your area’s snow and precipitation amounts.
Water is a critical factor in successfully laying down sod. So, if the temperatures allow for watering, you can water as necessary to keep the sod healthy. As summer creeps into fall, then winter, you won’t have to water as frequently. While you need to water daily, sometimes even multiple times a day in the summer, winter watering is much more infrequent.