A common misconception is that sod must be laid during the typical growing season in order to be successful. The logic seems sound… “If I plant all my veggies in the spring, isn’t that the best time to lay sod?”. Even though sod can be successfully laid throughout the spring and the summer, installing sod during fall can achieve great results.
Summer Sod Growth
Grass is a great plant with a fairly unique growing cycle. When moisture, nutrients, and sunlight are abundant in the spring and summer, grass leaves grow vigorously. The more leaf that is exposed above ground, the more sunlight the plant can absorb. This abundance of sunlight helps to fuel the grass that is recovering from winter dormancy. Once the heat of summer hits and water and nutrients become harder to come by, the grass slows its’ growth down and can actually go dormant in the driest and hot conditions. This slowing of the growth ensures the plant can conserve resources to survive the summer.
Fall Sod Growth
Now, onto the ideal sod laying season: fall. Grass growth begins vigorously again when the cooler weather brings more rain. Fall growth is much different than spring growth, however. The leaves tend not to grow as much, but fall is when roots grow the most. In preparation for winter, the roots reach deep down into the ground when the grass usually goes dormant. This boost in root growth is ideal for establishing fall sod. The faster the roots can start to grow, the quicker you will have a lush, beautiful lawn. Increased rains in the fall also alleviate the constant need to irrigate; another upside to laying sod in autumn.
The cooler weather is also suitable for fall sod because it is a living product. In the middle of summer, when it is hot and humid, not only do we get tired and sweaty working outside, but sod also tends to have a much shorter shelf life. By cooling the grass, the lower temperatures lower the risk of ruining the grass in transit or storage. Work is also much more pleasant when the sun isn’t beating down on us. However, even in fall conditions, we recommend laying sod within 12-48 hours of harvest for the best results.