Planting St Augustine Sod

Planting St Augustine sod is usually the best way to get this turf grass going strong in your yard. It can be done very successfully if you pay close attention to proven guidelines for preparing the soil, laying the sod and caring for it in the important first weeks.
This lawn care guide offers a complete plan for planting St Augustine sod and helping it to thrive in your yard.

Preparing the Soil
Two to three weeks before your sod arrives, spray an existing yard with non-selective weed killer like Roundup. Next, use a heavy-duty tiller and till the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches. If the sod grower recommends adding lime or fertilizer to the soil, now is the time to do it.

If you have a new home and the ground is bare, you still need to prepare the soil. If you’ve got 6 inches of top soil to work with, you’re in good shape. If not, you’ll have to bring in soil needed to produce a 6-inch bed. Till the soil thoroughly and mix in lime and/or fertilizer.

If you don’t have directions for lime and fertilizer from the grower, use these figures. Use 5-10-5 fertilizer and add 15-20 pound for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. For lime, add 30-40 pounds for the same area. Till the fertilizer and lime into the soil. The importance of giving your St Augustine sod the right environment to get its root structure established cannot be overestimated.

Rake stones and debris out of the soil. Make sure there are no low spots. Then roll the soil with a heavy roller, like the type you fill with water.

Laying St Augustine Sod
The evening before you lay the sod, soak the ground so that the moisture penetrates to a depth of 3-4 inches. You want the dirt to be moist but not muddy. Yes, you’ll get extra dirty laying the sod, but your St Augustine turf will reward you by getting established more quickly.

Choose a long, straight boundary line to start with. Lay pieces of sod end to end. Stagger the next row, like a bricklayer does, so that end seams are not lined up. A flat shovel works well for trimming sod pieces where necessary.

If you don’t complete the job in a single day, leave the remaining sod on the pallets and soak the outer layers to keep them moist.

Once all the sod is down, roll the entire yard again, pressing the roots into the prepared soil.

Watering your New St Augustine Sod Immediately
Watering will be your most important task over the next month as you help your sod get established in your yard. Immediately after the sod is down, add 1 inch of water to the yard.

To determine how long it takes your sprinkler to add 1 inch, place a few containers around the area covered by the sprinkler. Inexpensive rain gauges may also be available at the local gardening store. Measure the water in each after an hour. Then you’ll know how long you need to water in order to add 1 inch.

In heavy clay, divide the watering up into 2 sessions, one in the morning and the second just after lunch. This is especially important on hills where water can run off the sod before fully penetrating it. On very sandy soil, you should add an extra quarter-inch of water since it drains so quickly through the soil. You want to make sure the roots of your St Augustine turf can absorb what they need.

A Watering Schedule for New St Augustine Sod
Keep a rain gauge out to measure rainfall. Your sod needs a quarter-inch of rain every 2-3 days for the first 2 weeks. Then it needs one inch of water per week from that point on. Use the sprinkler to make up whatever amount doesn’t fall in the form of rain.

If weather conditions are hot and windy, increase the amount of water you give your sod. If conditions are cool and humid, slightly less water is required. Use common sense. If the lawn is green and looks healthy, keep doing what you’re doing. If it looks stressed or wilted, it may not be getting enough water. If it starts to turn yellow, it’s had too much water. In most cases, you’ll get a healthy, happy St Augustine lawn if you follow the watering directions given above.

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