Ask A Lawn Sodding Expert
Owner Ben Schneider, The Sod Installation Guy, and his team answer common questions about the installation of sod in the People Ask: Lawn Sodding Q&A.
Q&A on the Installation of Sod
Installing sod transforms your yard into a lush and vibrant space. From site preparation and soil preparation to laying the sod, we’ll answer questions on all the key steps to achieve a beautiful lawn you’ll love.
Questions & Answers from Peak Sodding
What’s the best time of year to lay sod? For warm-season grasses, the best times of the year will normally be Early Spring through Late Summer due to the warm weather allowing for quicker root development. That said, many sod varieties can be laid year-round with minimal risk.
Do you need irrigation for sod?
All living things require water. This is especially true of newly laid sod. But that does not necessarily mean you need an irrigation system. Providing water with hoses and sprinklers is fine, as long as the sod is receiving the water evenly and frequently. Warm-season grasses need more water when first installed (and we give you watering instructions) but are more drought-tolerant once they are well-rooted and established.
Fescue really does need an irrigation system here in the greater Raleigh area. Fescue is a cool season grass and North Carolina is a warm season state, so consistent, frequent water is essential for the survival of fescue here.
Do you spray existing and unwanted grass with herbicide before installing new sod?
We do spray existing and unwanted grass and/or weeds before installing sod. We send a technician who applies glyphosate 1-2 weeks before your sod installation. If you do not wish to have this done, please notify us. We then clear the surface of vegetation, cultivate the top layer of soil 1-2″ deep, and apply a layer of 50/50 topsoil/compost mix.
Is it worth it to lay sod?
Very few desirable turfgrasses planted in the greater Raleigh area are available in seed form. Most desirable turfgrasses are sterile hybrids, which means they cannot be grown from seed. These include all fine-bladed zoysias and all desirable Bermuda grasses. The exceptions which can be grown from seed are fescue, centipede, and wide-bladed zoysias. When fescue is seeded, the results are pretty quick – 7-10 days to germination and 3-4 weeks to a lawn. With warm-season grasses, however, the results from seed are very slow. Germination takes 14-21 days, during which time the grass must be kept consistently moist. An established lawn from seed takes 2-3 years. Weed control becomes a huge challenge while you wait for the lawn to fill in. Sod is almost instant gratification! You have full coverage when the new sod is laid, and there is a short period of time (3-4 weeks) when traffic must be minimized while the new sod roots. Weeds may appear in the seams, but once the seams close, weed control becomes much easier.
Can you lay sod without tilling?
First let’s address the term “tilling”. The definition for tilling is “prepare and cultivate land for crops.” If you dropped a seed or a potted plant onto the unprepared soil, chances are it would not survive. It could not root into compacted soil, it could not get enough moisture or nutrients to stay alive, and it would dry out and die. All plants, sod included, are living things and need care to survive. We recommend loosening the soil 2-3″ deep, removing existing vegetation to eliminate competition for water and nutrients, and adding 50/50 topsoil/compost for nutrition. You spent good money on sod. Let’s give it the best possible conditions to not only survive but to thrive!
How much time passes between sod harvesting and installation?
In the growing season, we install sod that was harvested no more than 24-48 hours before installation. The vast majority of jobs are installed within 24 hours of harvesting. In dormant season, warm season sod is harvested less frequently and is stable longer. So sometimes a dormant sod is installed that was harvested more than 48 hours prior. That is ok, but only when the sod is dormant.
How fast can I get sod installed?
Generally, we book 2-3 weeks in advance. If you account for a pre-kill which ideally takes place a week – 2 weeks prior to excavation, our soil preparation and sod installation process can happen as quickly as a single day to 2-3 days depending upon the size and scope of your project.
But please keep in mind that sod varieties have seasons, so the answer to this question can depend entirely on the best sod for your site. If you are looking for fescue, we will not be able to install it in the hotter months. If you are looking for Zeon zoysia, we install that grass May through early September. Centipede performs best when installed June through August.
Does Peak Sodding fix bad patches of grass in lawns?
We do offer patching but…patching is challenging because the new patch often looks better than the existing grass, and the work is tedious and expensive. We have to send a crew to pick up the grass, bring the grass and equipment to the site, and do all the work by hand. Despite the fact that the actual grass square footage can be small, the cost per square foot is quite a bit more than it would be for a regular sodding job.
I want a slow-growing grass. What do you recommend?
The slowest growing grass for the Raleigh area is Centipede. That does not mean it is the best grass for your yard, though. Centipede requires lots of sun and well-drained soil. It does very well in the Sandhills and along the coast. If you have heavy clay soil, it might not do well for you. A better choice could be Zoysia. Zoysias grow slower than Bermuda, but are just as heat tolerant. Zeon Zoysia is also more shade tolerant than Centipede, Bermuda, or wide-blade Zoysias like Zenith. When choosing the right sod for your site, there are several factors to consider.
How do you prepare the ground to lay sod? We always first remove as much of the existing surface vegetation as we can. Once this is complete, we can then spread topsoil evenly throughout the entire area making sure the surface is as even and smooth as possible eliminating any ruts, dips, or humps.
Can you sod a shady area? While it is not advised to lay sod in areas that never see sunlight, you can most definitely lay sod in areas that might receive minimal sun. It is important to make sure that you are laying the correct type of sod that can handle the shady conditions.
What’s the best month to lay down sod? There isn’t any “best month” to lay sod. However, Spring and Fall seasons are optimal with their mild temperatures and great soil conditions.
Is sod better than grass seed? Sod is by far the most effective way to establish a lawn while also assuming the least amount of risk possible. Seeding a lawn can often take years to truly establish even with proper care and preparation due to unpredictable weather patterns and washout. Seeding also can limit your choices of turf type significantly as some of the most popular and quality turf types are sterile and therefore will not produce seeds that can be regrown.
Does Peak Sodding’s sod come delivered as rolls or slabs? Which is better? We always request our sod be delivered in rolls. Rolls allow for much quicker and efficient installations meaning less time on the pallet. Especially during growing season, we aim to have our sod laid fresh with 24-48 hours of it being cut from the farm.
How long do sod installation services typically take? Installation time can always vary based upon the size and scope of the project but the greater majority of Peak Sodding projects are completed within a 1-3 day window!
Do you install grass in Raleigh? Yes, we solve lawn challenges and install grass for homeowners in Raleigh. We actually offer sod installations across all of the Southern Wake County area. Take a look at some of our completed sod installation projects in Raleigh as well as Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, and Fuquay Varina.
What is best to put under sod? Soil is food for plants. The more nutritious the soil, the healthier the plants! Think of turfgrass as the athlete of the plant world. It is growing at a high rate of speed, and then getting cut back regularly. To stay this active, turfgrass must eat well, just like an athlete! Our soil in the greater Raleigh area tends to be clay or sand. It does not typically contain much topsoil or humus matter (compost) unless this has been added in significant amounts in the past. That means it is low in nutrition. Therefore, it is crucial to add organic matter, including topsoil and compost, to improve the nutrient content of the soil before sodding.
How do I know if a sod installer has done a good job?
A great sod installer is made up of many things and it can often be hard to identify right away with such a surplus of companies offering this service. Here are some of the biggest things to look for:
- Thorough soil preparation: Do they remove existing vegetation? Do they cultivate the soil? Do they add a nutrient-rich soil blend?
- Attention to detail: How smooth is the finished surface? How clean are the cuts around the edges? Do they roll the sod once complete?
- Attention to YOU: Are they spending time to understand what you would like out of your lawn?
- Support: Do they provide support AFTER the sod is installed? Do they help guide you on watering and maintenance? Or are you left to do the research yourself?
These are all critical factors that are worth considering when hiring a company.
Do you offer a warranty?
We guarantee that your sod is delivered in live and sound condition and that it is installed correctly. When we leave, the life of the sod is entirely dependent on the care it receives. We provide you with instructions for care and watering, and our website is filled with helpful information, but just like a breeder cannot guarantee the life of a pet, we cannot guarantee the life of sod. Rest assured, we want you to succeed with your lawn! We are here to help with any questions or concerns you may have.
What types of grass would you not recommend for our area?
Currently, we do not recommend Bahia or St. Augustine for the greater Raleigh area, but new strains are always in development, so we may see these recommendations change in the future.
Fescue is tricky here. While we do install fescue, we want to make sure you have the right growing conditions, and that you know you will have to aerate and over-seed it every fall because you will lose some of the lawn during our hot summers. Fescue is a cool season grass, and NC is a warm season state. The warm season grasses perform better in our area.