The Best Time to Lay Sod in Georgia

Almost any type of sod can be planted in Georgia year-round, but there are recommended times of year for optimal growth.

Warm season grass needs to be planted in late spring or early summer to give the roots a chance to get established before hot summer begins. Cool season grass should be planted in early winter.

Sod must be planted within 48 hours of the time it is harvested.

Soil Preparation

Test the soil through your local cooperative extension service for soil pH and nutrients. Don't add nitrogen until the soil is at least 65 degrees F or higher 4 inches down into the soil. Add the recommending nutrients and till into the soil 3 to 4 inches. Remove any rocks or clots and smooth out the soil, preferably through the use of a tractor with a box blade, if you own one or can afford the expense of hiring one. This is the best way to assure that the yard will be graded properly. Water the soil so that it can settle and won't have gullies in the sod.

Temperature of the Soil

The temperature should be at least 45 degrees F before you lay sod. In Georgia, it is recommended that sod not be laid before spring, due to the potential for temperature fluctuations. Clint Waltz, a turfgrass specialist at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, states that February is not the optimum time to plant sod in Georgia because "temperatures at or near the soil surface are more likely to fluctuate this time of year. If the air is at or below freezing," he said, "there's a risk that the roots of newly laid sod will freeze."

Watering

Because of the hot days in Georgia, you will achieve the most success with your new sod if you water it in the early morning. This allows it enough time to soak in before the heat of the day. Watering in the afternoon may cause the water to evaporate before it can soak into the sod, and watering in the evening may lead to mold or fungus growth. Water the sod before laying it, and once the sod is laid on the soft ground, roll it to create a tight soil-to-sod bond. Then water it enough to wet an inch or two of the top layer of the soil, and keep it watered to prevent the roots from drying out and dying.

The Best Types of Grass for Georgia Sod

Hot weather, full sun sods are the best choices for planting in Georgia. Below are several different types of sod, and a discussion of their positives and negatives.

Fescue: Because Fescue is considered to be a cool season grass, and although it will do best in Georgia if planted in shady areas, it does still need at least four hours of sun each day. The best time to plant Fescue in Georgia is in the fall, although it is generally successful if planted in the spring as well. The roots of fescue sod will take about three to four weeks to take hold if watered well during that time.

Bermude: The beautiful thick grass seen on golf courses or baseball fields is usually Bermuda grass. Bermuda loves the sun, heat and plenty of water. You may think it has died when it turns an unattractive yellow in the winter, but it will come back the next spring. Bermuda sod can usually be purchased year-round in Georgia. Once established, water Bermuda one to two inches per week. Bermuda is known to creep over driveways and need to be trimmed.

Centipede: If you have clay or sandy soils, you might want to try Centipede sod. It should be fertilized sparingly, as it is very sensitive to fertilizer. If you want that short, manicured lawn look, don't use Centipede sod. It will die if mowed too short. It should be watered at least 6 inches deep to get it established, and watered heavily enough that it will not die during hot weather, as it is not drought tolerant.

Zoysia: Like Fescue, Zoysia does well in full sun, but can tolerate a little shade, and like Bermuda, Zoysia sod will turn brown in cool weather. But when it comes out of dormancy in the spring, it creates a beautiful, smooth green lawn. Watering is essential for this expensive type of sod.