Turf Magazine, the industry magazine for all things turf, says that laying sod in the winter is “risky business”. Their biggest concern is with homeowners who just don’t know enough about sod to properly prepare the ground and sod during a dormant season. However, the article does go on to say that laying sod in the winter is possible, especially if the temperatures are nice – something that happens often in sunny Colorado.
At What Temperatures Can You Lay Sod?
Overall, sod can be laid when neither the ground nor sod is frozen. Most people choose the fall or spring because the temperatures are more likely to be mild, between 55 and 65 degrees, and therefore ideal for laying sod. Here in Colorado, however, we can achieve mild temperatures year-round, and the temperature isn’t the only factor to consider.
The type of sod being laid is critical because a hearty sod is more likely to handle our colder winters than others. Cold-season grasses prefer cooler weather and your sod expert will point you in the right direction. While it may make sense to wait, sometimes you don’t have a choice. If you are working on selling your home, for example, having sod in place can help you sell it by improving the aesthetic and eliminating the appearance of mud.
But there are other benefits to laying sod in the winter as well. These include protecting the ground from erosion, using less water, and having the sod take root and grow as soon as spring hits. Our sod experts can help you determine which sod is best for your specific project needs and make recommendations for when to lay it, and how to care for it for your best success.
In addition to temperature and type of sod, you must also consider proper ground preparation. Regardless of the season, the ground must be ready for the sod to take root and create the beautiful lush lawn you desire.
As mentioned, you want to have the right type of sod and plan to sod on a day when temperatures are mild and the ground is not frozen. In the summer, the sod must be laid quickly after delivery, but in the winter, it can be stored longer without fear of it overheating and dying. The dormant sod can be frozen but does need to be thawed prior to rolling it out.
Check the soil to determine what nutrients the ground needs to best support root growth. Add fertilizer with nutrients to the ground and till the earth about 3-4 inches deep. Make sure the ground is level and free of any debris. Fill in holes, pull weeds.
If there is no potential for frost or freeze, water the ground and lay the dormant sod end to end. Stagger the rolls so the short seams are touching but create a brick-laying pattern rather than creating a long rut.
The ground should stay moist, not saturated, and this can be accomplished with winter precipitation. Check the soil to be sure, and add water if needed. Sod can dry out and die, so it’s important to ensure it always has enough moisture. If a frost hits, stay off the grass to prevent damage.