Cool-season grass sod can be installed as late as Thanksgiving. This includes grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass, Rye, and Fescue. Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, and Zoysia can be laid year-round. This is because these grasses are typically planted in warm regions with few winter freezes.
Fall is the best time to lay cool-season grass sod, with optimal installation times between October and November. Warm-season grasses thrive best when laid in spring (March–April), but can also survive fall and winter installations. Avoid installing sod in summer, as high heat can dry out your new lawn.
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What Temperature is Too Cold for Sod?
Freezing temperatures are too cold for laying sod. Although sod can be harvested and laid in late fall, when morning frost is present, if daytime temperatures are consistently below 32℉ (0℃), it’s too late for sod installation.
- Sod can be installed as long as daytime temperatures are consistently above freezing.
- Even if the weather is cold enough to cause morning frost, it’s OK to install sod.
Although frost and cold won’t kill sod on their own, be careful to avoid walking on frozen or frosted sod, as foot traffic on frozen grass can harm it.
What is the Best Temperature to Lay Sod?
Sod performs best when laid in moderate temperatures, between 55 and 80℉ (13–26℃). Although certain varieties of grass perform best at slightly different temperatures.
- Lay sod when temperatures are transitioning between winter cold and summer heat.
- If possible lay sod in spring or fall.
- Sod laid in winter will not root until temperatures rise.
- If you lay sod in peak summer temperatures, it is more likely to dry out and die.
Of all times of the year, summer is the worst time to lay sod. New sod requires frequent watering, and installing sod during heat and drought increases the chance a heatwave will dry out and kill your new sod.
Will a Freeze Kill New Sod?
Freezing temperatures will not kill sod. Unlike new grass seedlings, which may be killed by frost, sod is mature grass and can survive frost and freezes.
- Sod is not killed by a freeze or frost.
- Sod may turn brown from winter dormancy, but it is still alive.
Sod may go dormant in cold temperatures, especially if you are installing warm-season grass in winter. This brown coloration does not signify that the grass is dead. Dormant sod will green up in spring.
What is the Best Time of Year to Lay Sod?
The best time of year to lay sod depends on the grass variety. Cool-season grass sod thrives when it is laid in the fall, when daytime temperatures are 55–65℉ (13–18℃). Warm-season grass sod does best in spring, when temperatures are 65–80℉ (18–26℃).
- Lay cool-season grass sod (Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue, Rye) when temperatures are 55–65℉.
- October–November is the best time of year to install cool-season grass.
- Lay warm-season grass sod (Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine) when temperatures are 65–80℉.
- Spring (March–April) is the best time to lay warm-season grass sod.
Cool-season grasses experience their best root growth in fall, as temperatures start to cool down. Meanwhile, warm-season grasses experience most of their root growth in early spring. Because a healthy lawn from sod requires the grass to root into the soil below, take advantage of natural grass growth cycles and install sod at the right time for the variety you choose.
Can Sod Be Laid in the Winter?
Warm-season grass sod, such as St. Augustine, Bermuda, and Centipede grass, can be laid in winter as long as the ground is not frozen. Typically, these grasses will be dormant in winter, so you’ll be laying brown sod. Don’t worry, the grass will green up in spring.
Warm-season grasses are commonly installed in winter when necessary.
Do not install cool-season grass in winter. Freezing temperatures make purchasing and laying sod difficult.
If you live in a region that gets cold enough to experience freezes, snow, and ice, you will likely be installing cool-season sod. Winter is not a good time to install a new cool-season grass lawn. It can be difficult to find a sod supplier, and laying sod in these conditions is hard work, especially if you have to clear snow off the lawn.
Is Sod Available Year-Round?
In regions with freezing winters, sod cannot be harvested year-round. If the ground is frozen, don’t expect to be able to get any sod deliveries. The machinery required for harvesting sod isn’t designed to cut through frozen soil.
If you live in a temperate area, you can get sod in winter. Often, the turf you purchase at this time of year will be dormant, but it is still available.
Should You Water New Sod in Cold Weather?
New sod requires moisture no matter the weather. If you lay sod late in the year, or during winter, it likely has very little watering needs beyond natural precipitation, but soil moisture should be monitored. Here’s how to keep your sod healthy in cold conditions:
- In temperatures below 55℉ (13℃), pull up a corner of the sod and test the soil below. If it’s moist, the sod does not need water.
- If the soil beneath the sod is dry in cold temperatures, water for 30 minutes 1–2 times per week.
- In regions with dry winters, water dormant sod to prevent winter desiccation.
As temperatures rise, increase the watering frequency for your sod. Sod that has not yet taken root requires daily watering to keep it from shrinking.
How Late Can You Put Down Sod?
Sod can be laid much later in the year than grass seed. When laying sod late in the year, keep these rules in mind.
- In areas with freezing winters, lay sod as late as Thanksgiving.
- In areas without freezing winters, you can lay sod year-round.
- Cool-season grass sod performs best when laid in October–November.
- Warm-season grass sod flourishes when laid in March—April.
- Avoid laying sod during peak summer temperatures.
Just remember that sod requires water and fertilizer no matter what time of year you lay it. Even dormant grass must be kept moist enough to prevent winter desiccation. With a little care, you can lay sod just before winter sets in and have a beautiful turf lawn by spring.