With massively fluctuating temperatures at times in North Carolina, so much so, you will often hear the comment “North Carolina is the one place where you can experience every season in one week!” the best time to lay sod in NC actually brings good news. Whether flowers and trees are in full bloom or the trees are bare and the leaves have fallen, North Carolina’s climate offers homeowners more than one option for sod installation.
In this blog, Peak Sodding covers the best time to lay sod in NC with considerations for both warm and cool-season types of grass. Additionally, we’ll offer insights on the factors that go into choosing when to lay sod.
The Importance of Timing
While there are over 12,000 species of grass to choose from, it’s important to know what the best grass types for North Carolina lawns are. Because of our forgiving climate, you can enjoy both cold-weather and warm-weather grass types. In the midst of Spring, Peak Sodding will typically focus on the two grass types below:
- Zoysia. This popular grass type is the most favored variety for sodding in Holly Springs. Zoysiagrass is a warm-season perennial grass that grows very well in the summer and doesn’t go dormant until after the first heavy frost. Zoysia will come back in early spring and provides a versatile option for homeowners due to its variety of colors, density, and blade width.
- Bermuda. Another hardy and forgivable grass type is bermudagrass. Growing more aggressively than other grass types, Bermuda recovers easily from heavy traffic from children or pets. Furthermore, bermudagrass can survive the North Carolina heat during summer with minimal watering required.
With these factors in mind, the importance of timing your sod installation should be considered before you decide on a grass type. While Bermuda and Zoysia are tolerant of our climate, their success depends on what time of year you have sodding installed.
Laying Sod in Spring
Based on information from the farmer’s almanac, the last Spring frost is on ~April 6th. That means that early spring is one of the best times to lay sod in NC without the risk of your grass being killed off by freezing temperatures. It’s also when most people start moving their leisure activities outdoors. Sod will provide an instant curb appeal by creating a green lawn and quickly reducing the growth of weeds. So, why is Spring the best time to lay sod?
Grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia perform best at temperatures above 70 degrees. One of the most important factors in creating an ideal environment for the sod to thrive is ensuring it takes root quickly. Roots can take up to 2 weeks to develop a shallow system while deep rooting takes up to 6 weeks. Warm weather can help speed the process up while your new sod works hard to take root.
A few key things to remember when laying sod in Spring:
- Sod should remain moist in the first several weeks. This helps maintain healthy roots, especially as they develop. However, sod that is located in shaded areas should be watered less in an effort to reduce disease, like root rot or pests.
- Be sure your area is not at risk of frost. While the farmer’s almanac can be a consistent source for estimating, it’s best to speak with the experts who are knowledgeable on the best time to install sod.
For cool-season grasses, like Tall Fescue, Spring seeding is not recommended. Because our spring temperatures can turn from 70 degrees to the mid or high 80s overnight, cool-season grasses may be at risk. Ideally, these grass types will thrive if planted when temperatures are between 70 and 80 degrees. Hotter temperatures will make it difficult for germination, which means it will take much longer to achieve an established lawn.
Finally, don’t forget that Springtime is when we receive the most rainfall. This will help ensure your sod receives ample moisture, even if you forget to set up the sprinkler.
Laying Sod in Summer
While laying sod in the Summer may be hot, with warm-season grasses, there are not many major concerns with doing so. They are at their peak of growth, meaning roots will develop quickly and some varieties will be fully rooted within a single week. That said, it is important to be aware of some basic steps for laying sod in the Summer.
What to be on the lookout for when laying sod in the Summer:
- When daytime temperatures begin to peak above 85 degrees, the heat will cause water to absorb much quicker. This will result in your sod bed potentially drying out before the next water. It is encouraged on days like this to consider watering more to make sure the grass does not lose moisture.
- For those who have more of a clay soil base, the heat can very easily cause the clay to dry out and harden. Beyond just watering, it is very important to make sure these areas are well-prepped with topsoil to allow the sod to better retain moisture and provide a softer surface for the less mature roots to cling to.
All in all, the greatest task of sodding in the Summer is dealing with the heat. It can be exhaustive beyond the norm and is best left to the professionals who come well prepared to fight the heat.
It is greatly discouraged to lay Fescue sod in the Summer as Fescue cannot tolerate the heat if it is not well established. If you do not have a ready irrigation system, it is best to wait until Fall before laying any cool-season grass types.
Laying Sod in Fall
Early to mid-fall is another great time to lay sod in NC. Now that summer is over, temperatures during September and October have dropped and rainfall will begin to increase. There will also be ample time between fall and winter for your sod to take root. Regardless of cooler weather, your grass will continue to grow throughout the fall months. This allows sod to get established before going dormant in the winter, leading to a healthier lawn come springtime.
If you choose to install sod in the fall, be sure to keep an extra eye on moisture levels. Because temperatures (including ground temps) are cooler, you won’t need to water as much as you would during spring. For the first 14 days of fall, your sod should remain moist but not drenched. Keeping the soil moist 3” below the surface is a good rule of thumb.
Can I Lay Sod During Winter in NC?
While we believe spring and fall are the best times to lay sod in NC, winter can also be an option if necessary. Homeowners who want to lay sod in the winter should know that it will remain dormant until spring, so you won’t have the “instant gratification” that installing sod in spring or fall will help achieve. Timing is more important during winter, though, as roots cannot develop if ground temperatures are below 55 degrees.
Similar to spring and fall sod installation, water is critical to a successful establishment. Cold winds will dry out the root system, so homeowners will still need to water new sod throughout the winter months even though it is dormant.
For more information on the best time to lay sod in NC, contact Peak Sodding today.