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Laying sod in autumn – why the season is as good for grass growth as spring

Most gardeners and homeowners would not install their sod in the fall, as spring is typically suitable for growing plants. It also seems logical to think that this growing season for vegetables would also apply to turf. As it turns out, however, the fall season is an optimal time for laying new sod. You can lay sod virtually any time of year. In fact, fall is even better for certain varieties. If you’d like to learn more about when you can install sod, below is some useful information and tips.

Why you should install your sod in the fall

laying sod in autumn at low temperatures and obtaining green areas

Although you can assume that turf grows best in the spring, this is not always the case. Cool-season grasses do best when pulled from lawns in the fall. Even warm-season grass varieties grow well after laying in the colder fall months. This makes fall the best or second best time to lay sod, depending on the grass species. In addition, it may actually be better to install turf in the fall than in the winter or during the peak summer months.

thriving lawn in spring or during the colder autumn months possible with good lawn care

When temperatures drop in the early fall season, rain begins to fall. Accordingly, the colder season allows new grass roots to develop much faster. Also, with cooler temperatures, there is less chance of the new turf overheating or drying out. The increase in rainfall then allows the roots to grow deeper and growth occurs much faster. Rain also brings an added bonus to daily lawn care. Namely, you don’t have to constantly water your grass area.

Advantages of the colder season

laying sod in autumn and achieving better vegetation at low temperatures

So grass growth begins vigorously again when the cooler weather brings more rain. However, fall growth is very different from spring growth. Leaves tend not to grow as much, but roots develop the most in the fall. In preparation for winter, when the grass is usually dormant, the roots reach deep into the soil. This increase in root growth is ideal for establishment when you install sod in the fall. The sooner the roots can start growing, the sooner you’ll have a lush, beautiful and healthy lawn.

install sod in autumn like a pro and enjoy healthy lawns

Cooler weather is also good for turf, as it is a living product. In the height of summer, when it’s hot and humid, not only will you get tired and sweaty doing this outdoor gardening, but the lawn also tends to have a much shorter shelf life. By cooling the grass, the lower temperatures reduce the risk of damaging the grass during transport or storage. It’s also much more pleasant to work with when the sun isn’t beating down on it. Even in fall conditions, however, it is recommended that sod be installed within 12 hours of harvest for best results.

The correct soil preparation for sod

soil preparation for laying sod in autumn better for some varieties

Do it yourself, or have someone test your soil, especially before laying a new sod. You will never have an easier time improving your garden soil than when it is bare and tilled for planting. In addition, you can take samples yourself and send them to the extension service for recommendations or ask a professional to do it for you. Start doing this at least 4-6 weeks before the soil is expected to freeze. It takes about 5-6 weeks for new grass to develop a strong root system. So make sure you give your sod enough time to strengthen its roots. Once the ground is frozen, it can be very difficult for grass to develop or strengthen its root system.

a nutrient-rich garden soil enables healthy growth of sod in autumn

Also, keep in mind that soil pH balance and a full supply of nutrients become even more important to establishing a healthy lawn when you plant out of season for your grass species. Up to the area you plan to install with sod in the fall, loosen the soil about 15 and incorporate any recommended amendments. Then smooth the surface of the soil and water it lightly until it is moist, but not saturated.

How to install sod in the fall

hobby gardener keeps a piece of turf for laying in the garden during the spring season

To get the most out of your lawn in the fall, you need to follow a few simple rules. Thus, you will ensure that your grass will quickly take root and grow into a healthy lawn. The 3 rules for installing sod are:

  • Scheduling the delivery for early fall.
  • Keeping the sod moist so it can take root quickly.
  • Fertilizing the turf with a starter fertilizer to spur growth.

professional lawn care and dethatching with rakes after installation

If you use these three tactics, you’ll have an established, lush lawn by the time winter sets in. Early fall is perfect for laying sod in areas with freezing winters. So plan to lay sod between mid-September and mid-October, when temperatures are between 13 and 18℃. However, it’s also okay if they reach 24℃ as well. In warm regions where it rarely freezes in winter, you can lay sod until the end of November. In fact, you can even lay warm-season sod in winter in regions where the ground is not frozen, so timing is less critical in such areas.

Tips for lawn care in the fall after installation.

regular watering of the lawn in the garden

Regardless of the time of year, grass should be kept moist for the first two weeks after installation or until it begins to take root. Water twice daily, in the morning and afternoon, for 10 minutes per watering. It is important to keep your lawn watered throughout the winter, even when it is dormant. However, avoid overwatering and make sure your new sod receives at least 2.5 inches of water each week through rain or watering the lawn. Two waterings per week is optimal. If your lawn appears soggy or flooded, reduce the duration of your watering sessions.

water droplets on grass leaves in spring ensure better growth

Monitor your lawn closely during this first two-week window and make sure it is kept moist without creating boggy conditions in your yard. Lawns that are too dry or too wet will fail. Once the turf has begun to take root and cannot be pulled up, gradually reduce watering frequency until your garden has a standard watering schedule. Grass needs a fertilizer high in phosphorus to promote rapid and healthy root development, followed by a healthy amount of nitrogen to drive overall growth. Standard fertilizers for mature grass do not provide what turf needs.

first brown autumn leaves on green lawn as a sign of the autumn season

Spread fertilizer on the ground before laying the lawn or immediately after. You can also spread your starter fertilizer on the bare soil beforehand. This will make the fertilizer available to the sod as soon as it begins to root. Alternatively, you can add the fertilizer right after the sod is laid. Watering helps draw the fertilizer into the soil.