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Turf Grass - How to Plant

Once the right turf grass for your landscape is selected, soil preparation, proper and timely installation, and proper watering techniques are key to establishing a healthy lawn. (Turf grass cannot be installed on hard, dry, weed-infested ground and look like a golf course. Golf courses typically have large maintenance crews and even larger budgets!)

Info Shortcuts:
Soil Preparation Installation of a Seeded Lawn
Installation of Sod Watering Your Sod

Soil Preparation

First, have a soil test taken to determine any nutritional deficiencies that may exist in your yard. Follow the recommendations of the analysis by adding the suggested amendments. Any existing grass, weeds and debris should be completely removed from the planting area. Till the soil to a depth of at least 4 to 6 inches, adding organic matter such as compost or rotted manure as needed. The deeper you are able to cultivate the soil, the more successful your turf grass will be. Rake the area until it is smooth and even. (This is an important step because sod will mimic the natural grade and texture of the soil.) Because sod must be planted immediately, be prepared by taking these steps prior to delivery.

Installation of Sod

Most turf grasses are available year-round, but should not necessarily be planted year-round for the best results. Plant Centipede, Bermuda and Zoysia sod in the spring or summer and Fescue sod in the fall or winter.

Inspect your sod upon delivery. Turf should appear green (unless laying during the dormant months) and in good planting condition. (Do not judge the turf by its top layers; look a couple of layers down.) Again, turf grass sod should be installed as soon as possible on the day of delivery. Turf should not be left on pallet beyond this date.

Beginning at the top of the lawn, lay each piece of sod lengthwise. Press the adjoining pieces together snugly to prevent ruts from developing. Stagger your sod pieces; the end result should look like a brick wall. Use sod staples to secure the pieces if you are planting on a steep grade.

Installation of a Seeded Lawn

Plant Fescue seed in September or October and Centipede, Bermuda and Zoysia in June or July for the best results.

Before purchasing your seed, use our Seeding Rate chart below to determine just how much seed you will need. Smaller seeds may need to be mixed with a certain amount of sand before sowing. The seed (or seed mixture) can be distributed with a spreader or by hand. If you choose to use a spreader, distribute one-half of the seed over the cultivated area, then distribute the remaining half crosswise over the area to insure adequate coverage. Rake gently over the entire area to cover the seeds with a light layer of soil and top with a layer of wheat straw. Finally, water the entire area, but not so much that the seed begins to wash away.

Grass Type
Planting Rate Per 1000
Square Feet*
Bermuda Grass 1 to 2 Pounds
Centipede Grass 1/2 to 1 Pound
Tall Fescue 8 to 10 Pounds for New Lawns
5 Pounds for Overseeding Existing Lawns
Weeping Lovegrass 6 to 10 Pounds Per Acre
Annual Rye Grass 5 to 10 Pounds
Perennial Rye Grass 5 to 10 Pounds
Zoysia Grass 1 to 2 Pounds

Watering Your Sod

Do not wait until all of the sod is laid before beginning to water. Sod dries out quickly, so water the laid sod periodically as you plant. After planting, keep the soil very moist by watering at least once a day for at least 45 minutes per sprinkler area. The soil should be moist to a depth of at least 2 to 3 inches. Continue this practice for at least 2 weeks or until your turf is firmly rooted. Then water every other day for two weeks. Once established, most turf grasses can survive on 1 to 2 inches of water per week. However, for a lush, healthy lawn, more water will be required. If your turf is allowed to dry out, permanent damage will have been done; you may lose the majority (if not all) of the new turf.

Watering Your Seeded Lawn

If you seeded your lawn, follow the same general guidelines as with sod, as needed.