Types of Sod
Sod is grass that is grown and cared for by a professional for the purpose of cutting it with about two inches of soil attached to it to transplant it to a bare lawn area. This sod is cut using a sod cutter in a way that causes the least amount of damage to the roots and stress to the grass. The biggest advantage of sodding is that you get a lawn instantly, unlike seeding where you have to wait around 2 months to have an established lawn. Sod is mainly divided into two categories – warm-season sod and cool-season sod. Warm-season sod includes grass types like bermuda, zoysia, centipede, etc., while cool-season sod includes bluegrass, rye, and fescue grass types.
Edenapp discusses each of these types of sod in detail in this article along with which is the most common or most durable sod type. Edenapp also answers other frequently asked questions about the best type of sod for full sun, the time it takes for sod to take root, and if it is okay to lay sod over existing grass, in this article.
Cool-season Sod and Warm-season Sod
Sod is turfgrass and therefore, it is divided into the same two categories – cool-season sod and warm-season sod. Cool-season sod best grows in temperatures between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes early spring and fall times the peak growing times of cool-season grasses. This grass type is mainly prevalent in the northern and midwestern regions of the U.S. as the temperature in these regions is favorable for its growth. The different types of cool-season sod are given below.
Warm-season grass grows best in temperatures 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes summertime the peak growing season for warm-season grasses. This grass type is mainly found in the south and southeastern regions of the U.S. along with the lower portion of the transition zone as the temperature and soil conditions in these regions are favorable for its growth. The different types of warm-season grasses are given below.
- St. Augustine grass
Types of Sod
This section talks about 7 different types of sod and each of them has different maintenance requirements, cost, texture, and appearance. Edenapp has discussed all these factors in detail to help you choose the type of sod that matches your requirements, preferences and budget the best.
- Bluegrass Sod: Bluegrass is a cool-season sod that is blue or deep green in color. When bluegrass is provided with the right care it produces a thick and lush lawn with grass blades that are medium to fine in texture. The requirements and other important points about bluegrass are given below.
- Most Bluegrass varieties prefer full sun exposure but some varieties can tolerate partial shade.
- Bluegrass has the highest cold tolerance among all cool-season grass types.
- Due to its shallow roots, bluegrass has low heat and drought tolerance.
- Bluegrass can handle heavy wear and tear and therefore it is suitable for lawns that experience heavy traffic or use due to children and pets.
- Bluegrass spreads horizontally through rhizomes and therefore can repair itself quickly if it is damaged.
- Bluegrass germinates slower compared to other cool-season grasses like perennial ryegrass.
- Bluegrass has high maintenance requirements compared to most grass types; it needs to be irrigated and fertilized more frequently
- Ryegrass: Ryegrass, also known as perennial ryegrass, is a cool-season sod that is native to Asia and Europe. Ryegrass produces a pleasant pale green lawn with grass blades that are fine in texture and have auricles clasping the stems. Perennial grass grows in bunches without stolons or rhizomes. The requirements and other important points about ryegrass are given below.
- Ryegrass can tolerate partial shade but requires at least five hours of full sun exposure.
- Ryegrass establishes itself quicker than other grass types.
- Ryegrass will grow best in regions that have moderate temperatures like coastal regions.
- Perennial ryegrass has the highest traffic tolerance among cool-season grasses.
- Due to its shallow roots, ryegrass has low heat and drought tolerance.
- Ryegrass is fast-growing and competitive and these characteristics make this grass type resistant to weeds.
- Ryegrass is also resistant to diseases and insects.
- Ryegrass has moderate to high maintenance requirements and needs to be irrigated and fertilized frequently.
- Fescue: Fescue is a cool-season sod type that comes in two varieties – tall fescue and fine fescue. Tall fescue has coarse, wide blades and fine fescue has fine, narrow blades. Tall fescue spreads through seeds while most varieties of fine fescue have a bunch-type growth. The requirements and other important points about fescues are given below.
- Fine fescue sod remains green throughout the year.
- Tall fescue prefers sunlight but both varieties can tolerate partial shade, especially fine fescue.
- Tall fescue can handle heavy foot traffic and dog urine while fine fescue can’t.
- Fine fescue can tolerate salt and drought which makes it suitable for coastal lawns.
- Fine fescue is a low maintenance sod and does not require frequent irrigation or fertilization.
- Tall fescue does not require frequent mowing.
- Both tall and fine fescue can be installed on all soil types like sandy, rocky, and clay soils.
- Bermudagrass: Bermudagrass is a warm-season sod that produces a lush and dense medium green to dark green lawn when provided with the right growing conditions. Bermudagrass grows through above-the-ground and below-the-ground runners. Bermudagrass has fine to medium textured grass blades with pointed leaf tips. The requirements and other important points about Bermudagrass are given below.
- Bermudagrass requires full sun exposure, at least seven hours a day, to thrive, and thus is not shade tolerant.
- Bermudagrass is one of the most drought-tolerant grass types and can survive drought conditions for up to four weeks.
- Bermudagrass tolerates high traffic and heavy wear and tear very well.
- Bermudagrass can also tolerate dog urine and thus is a good choice for warm-season lawns belonging to homeowners with pets.
- Bermudagrass has excellent salt tolerance.
- Bermudagrass is fast-growing and thus the sod establishes itself quickly.
- Due to its fast rate of growth, it can outcompete most lawn weeds.
- The disadvantage of the rapid growth ability of Bermudagrass is that it requires frequent mowing, especially during its peak growing season and it can also spread to your flower beds if left unchecked.
- Bermudagrass is a high-maintenance grass that requires frequent watering and fertilization and soils with good drainage.
- Bermuda has low cold tolerance and goes dormant pretty quickly in winters.
- Zoysia: Zoysia is a warm-season sod that produces a light to medium green lawn that looks luxurious when the sod is provided with the right growing conditions. The blades of Zoysia are fine to medium textured and are soft to the touch. This grass type spreads through stolons and rhizomes like Bermudagrass. The requirements and other important points about Zoysiagrass are given below.
- Zoysia prefers full sun exposure but is more shade tolerant than Bermudagrass.
- Zoysia stays green longer than Bermudagrass in winter and is the first warm-season grass to start turning green again in spring.
- Zoysia grows slowly and thus requires less frequent mowing.
- Zoysia can handle moderate to heavy foot traffic and wear and tear, depending on the variety.
- Zoysia sod establishes a dense lawn that is resistant to weeds.
- Zoysia is heat and drought resistant.
- Zoysiagrass has low maintenance requirements compared to Bermudagrass as it does not require frequent irrigation or fertilization.
- However, Zoysia tends to attract lawn pests and therefore requires frequent use of chemical pesticides.
- Zoysia can build up thatch quickly and therefore requires frequent thatch management.
- Centipede: Centipede is a warm-season sod that produces a coarse-leaved and light to medium green lawn. Centipede grass spreads through above-the-ground creeping runners called stolons. The requirements and other important points about Centipede grass are given below.
- Centipede sod can be established on poor soils like sandy and acidic soils.
- Centipede grass does not require frequent dethatching as sandy soils do not build up thatch easily.
- Centipede grass is more shade tolerant than Bermudagrass.
- Centipede grass is heat tolerant.
- Centipedegrass has low maintenance requirements as it does not need to be mowed or fertilized frequently.
- Centipede grass is slow-growing but once it is established, it forms a thick lawn that is weed-resistant.
- Centipede grass cannot handle heavy traffic or dog urine and recovers slowly if it is damaged.
- Centipede sod cannot be installed in locations that experience frequent cold snaps or temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit as it can damage or kill the sod.
- Centipede grass is sensitive to high levels of iron in the soil and therefore you need to amend your soil if it has high iron content.
- Centipede grass has shallow roots and can be affected by insects.
- St. Augustine: St. Augustine is a warm-season sod that produces a thick, coarse-leaved, and medium blue-green lawn when provided with the right growing conditions. St. Augustine spreads through low growing stolons. The requirements and other important points about St. Augustine sod are given below.
- St. Augustine is the most shade tolerant of all warm-season grass types.
- St. Augustine sod grows easily and therefore, it is quick to establish itself.
- The blue-green color of this grass type helps add to the curb appeal of the property.
- St. Augustine sod can tolerate humidity and salt well and thus is suitable for lawns along the coast.
- There are various improved cultivars and hybrids of St. Augustine sod available like Floratam, Sapphire, Palmetto, etc.
- St. Augustine grass is heat-tolerant but it’s not drought or cold tolerant.
- St. Augustine grass can handle moderate foot traffic but not heavy traffic.
- St. Augustine grass does not require frequent mowing but it requires frequent irrigation and fertilization.
- St. Augustine sod is susceptible to bugs, fungus, and lawn viruses.
How to Choose Sod for Your Yard
As we have seen above, there are various types of sod with different characteristics. So, how do you choose the best sod type for your yard? Edenapp lists the factors you should consider when choosing sod for your yard, below.
- Local Climate: Local climatic conditions will determine whether you should install a warm-season sod or cool-season sod. This is the first point you should consider as this will determine whether your sodded lawn will thrive or fail as grass types can only survive in climatic conditions favorable to them.
- Soil pH: Most turfgrasses prefer a soil pH between 6 to 7, with exceptions like Centipede which prefers an acidic pH between 5 to 6 and elite tall fescue which prefers a soil pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Therefore, your soil pH will also limit the type of sod you can install in your yard, unless you amend your soil to bring it to the preferable range of the desired sod type.
- Sun and Shade: Different sod types have different sun exposure requirements. Some types of sod like bermuda require full sun while others like fescue can tolerate shade. Therefore, if your lawn does not receive enough sun, you have to choose a sod type that will thrive in shade.
- Maintenance Requirements: Before you install sod, you need to consider how much time you will be able to invest on your lawn. If you are able to invest more time, you can choose to install any sod type, including those that have higher maintenance requirements. These grass types require more frequent irrigation, fertilization, and mowing. If you can’t set aside too much time to spend keeping up your lawn, you should choose to install grass types that do not require much attention or care.
- Foot Traffic: If you have children or pets who will be playing on the lawn, you should install a grass type that can withstand wear and tear like bermuda and zoysia grass for warm-season lawns and bluegrass and ryegrass for cool-season lawns. Additionally if you own a dog, you should consider installing a sod type that can tolerate dog urine to an extent like fescue and ryegrass.
- Cost: Not all sod types are created equal and this reflects in the cost of the sod. Some grass types like bermuda, zoysia, and fescue are expensive while others like Kentucky bluegrass are cheaper.
- Sod Supplier: Buy sod from a reputable sod supplier who will harvest and deliver the sod to you in the best condition and within the quickest possible time. If the sod is damaged during harvesting or if the harvest-to-delivery time is too long, your sodded lawn will not be healthy. Sod needs to be installed within 24 hours of harvesting for the best result.
When is the best time to lay sod?
The best time to lay sod is during late summer or early fall. While sod can be installed at any time of the year after the last frost passes and before late fall, as it does not involve seed germination, the period between late summer and early fall is the most conducive to better installation and integration of new sod. This is because during this time, the days are still warm and the nights start to get a little cool. The soil temperature should be around 50 degrees Fahrenheit or more to ensure the roots are warm enough to knit quickly with the original soil below.
How long does sod take to root?
It takes sod 2 to 6 weeks to take root. This is because sod develops shallow roots within the first two weeks which then develop to deeper roots over the next four weeks, taking the entire rooting process to 6 weeks. Therefore, sod requires daily irrigation for the first two weeks till the shallow roots have developed to ensure the roots don’t dry out. After the shallow roots develop, the frequency of watering can be changed to every other day till the deep roots develop fully. Once the lawn is fully established after 6 weeks, you can water deeply once a week.
What sod is best for full sun?
For warm-season lawns, bermudagrass and zoysia are the best sod types for lawns that receive a lot of sun as they prefer full sun exposure and have high heat and drought tolerance. For cool-season lawns, tall fescue is the best sod type for sunny lawns as its heat tolerance is relatively high compared to other cool-season grasses like bluegrass and ryegrass.
Which is the most common sod?
The most common type of sod depends on the geographical location of the lawn. For the northern and midwestern regions of the U.S. that experience harsh winters, the most common sod types are bluegrass and ryegrass and for the southern and southeastern U.S. regions the most common sod types are bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass, and centipede grass. The most common sod types in the transitional zone are cool-season sod types like bluegrass and ryegrass.
Which is the most durable sod?
The most durable sods for cool-season lawns in the northern regions are bluegrass and tall fescue as they can tolerate high traffic. Additionally, Kentucky bluegrass is also able to repair itself faster than most other grass types if it gets damaged. Fescue is also tolerant to heat and drought. The most durable sod for warm-season lawns in the southern regions is bermuda.
For more information on the grass types best suitable for high-traffic, read Edenapp’s article – Durable Grass Types for High Traffic Areas.
Can you lay sod over existing grass?
No, you shouldn’t lay sod over existing grass. Sod requires direct contact with the soil to establish roots. If it is laid on top of existing grass, the roots of the new sod will have to do double the work to penetrate through the existing root system and then establish its own roots. This will take a long time and the sod will die during this time, wasting your investment and giving you the extra task of removing two layers of sod. Therefore, you should not lay new sod on existing grass and instead put it down only on bare soil that is prepared for sod installation.
For detailed information on the correct steps to lay sod and maintain it for the best results, read Edenapp’s article – How to Lay Sod.
If you are looking for a high-quality sod installation, consult the landscaping experts of Edenapp. We inspect your lawn to determine the right type of sod for your lawn and install it in a way that will give you the best result with a thick, lush and green lawn without the risk of failure. You can also contact Edenapp for any other landscaping query as we provide full-spectrum landscaping services, covering various aspects.