Can You Lay Dormant Sod?

When your lawn is greening up, and the tulips and hyacinths are blooming, everyone thinks about grass.  Spring is a natural time to take stock in what you’ve done in the past and what you might like to do over the course of the summer.  But you may be surprised to learn that some of your yard projects can be done during the cold, dead of winter.

Bermudagrass is a sturdy choice to be harvested and installed in your yard no matter what the season.  While most sod farms don’t produce the same amount as we might in July, we are certainly still working and selling our turf.

Here are a few tips to have a successful lawn if you lay sod during the dormant season:

1. Keep it watered.

The roots won’t grow extensively, but they will attach over the winter if you keep it moist.  Be cautious of windy days, as they can dry out seams and edges quickly. You won’t need to water like you might in the summer, but keeping it slightly moist to the touch is important.  My personal rule is to make sure there is rain in the forecast 1 day out of 7. If we have 7 days of dry weather or a day of extreme windy conditions, I turn on the sprinkler.

2. Do not use chemicals.

While some lawn pros love to talk pre-emergent in the off-season, I don’t recommend putting any chemicals on the lawn while it is dormant.  Once the grass greens up in the spring, you can apply post-emergent and fertilizers, if necessary. If you see weeds during the winter season, and you most likely will, mow them down or hand pull them.

One thing we don’t recommend is laying zoysia sod in the winter.  In our experience, Bermuda grass has been just about fool-proof over the winter season. But zoysia hasn’t always loved the conditions that winter brings.  It is a slower growing species, and it has a harder time taking root. There are times where laying grass has to be done, as in the case of a new home build.  But in that case, we always recommend putting in Bermuda. If you truly need zoysia for the conditions of the area, you can pull up that Bermuda and put it in another area of the yard and lay down zoysia in its place when spring arrives.​

Last Friday, I laid 3 pallets of our new mini-rolls in my backyard.  I have previously been stupendous at growing moss and clover in the backyard. It gets tons of sunshine in the summer, but we’ve never been able to get bermuda or fescue seed to root back there.

My husband conveniently took his time getting home from work.  He is a smart man. So when he finally came home, I had already finished laying 2 of the 3 pallets. The mini-rolls do go down much faster than slabs. The top row was as heavy as sin, because it had rained the day before. But once I got to the lower layers, the rolls were easier to pick up.  Hubs pitched in on the final pallet.This bermuda is dormant, so I will keep it moist all winter until spring hits.  I ran the sprinkler for a bit after it was all laid out. And then it rained last night. Watering in the winter is pretty easy, other than having to bend over and remove the insulated cap over the water spigot. As long as the weather includes a day of rain out of every 7 and isn’t very windy, your watering job will be made easy. I will also need to do some post-emergent treatment for the clover that might pop back up through the sod, because clover is a beast to get rid of. But I won’t do any chemicals or herbicides until spring green up hits.

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