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Establishing a Lawn from Sod

Hot Springs, Ark. –  If you are thinking of sodding you lawn or need to fill in bare spots injured by last winter’s cold temperatures here are some steps to help you get started.  

Warm-season grasses popular in Arkansas, are Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, St. Augustine grass and Centipede-grass, and are usually established from sprigs, plugs or sod. While all four are grown in central Arkansas not all are suited for all lawn situations.  For example, bermudagrass is very drought tolerant thus requiring less watering during dry times but it must have full sun and cannot grow in the shaded areas of our lawns. While St. Augustinegrass is the most shade tolerant of the four it can be injured by several hours of low temperatures during our unpredictable Arkansas winters. Choosing the correct sod for your lawn can be a difficult task, so spend the time and effort to get the correct sod for your situation.  We have a helpful fact sheet at our web site (FSA 2112 Choosing a Grass for Arkansas Lawns).  

You may lay sod successfully year-round but sodding in spring or early summer while grasses are actively growing allows rapid rooting. Giving warm-season grasses time to develop an extensive root system before cold weather arrives enhances their ability to resist winter injury. Also, planting during May and June coincides with the time when the chances of rainfall are greatest, thus reducing dependence on irrigation. Due to construction deadlines, it is sometimes necessary to lay sod during winter months when warm-season grasses are dormant. Dormant sodding can be successful but is more risky than sodding in the spring and early summer due to increased risk of winter injury.

Prior to planting, water to moisten the soil. It is important to schedule this watering in advance to avoid a muddy site when sod installation begins. Do not lay sod on dry soil. Even if sod is watered immediately after being laid on dry soil, root growth will be retarded. Lay sod soon after it is delivered. The longer the sod sits on the pallet, the more it will deteriorate. This is especially important when dormant sodding. Laying dormant sod quickly after delivery will help protect the sod from freeze injury because of the latent heat in the soil. As soon as the sod is installed and rolled, begin to water the lawn thoroughly. Moisten the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Irrigate daily until the sod becomes well rooted, usually about 10 days. After the sod is established, decrease the frequency and increase the amount of water per application. Most grasses are fairly well rooted within 10 to 14 days if watered properly. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to keep people off the lawn for three to four weeks until the grass has become well anchored. After the sod is well rooted, cut with a sharp mower to avoid tearing and pulling the grass. Start off at a slightly higher mowing height than what is ultimately desired. Despite all efforts to create a smooth surface with good site preparation and planting, some undulations will still remain. Mowing slightly higher initially will prevent scalping of the newly sodded lawn.

Apply fertilizer four weeks after installation.  Doing a soil test is the best method for determining your fertilizer needs.  (To have a soil test done, bring at least one pint of your soil to the Garland County Extension Service.)  However, a pound of nitrogen per 1,000 ft2 is a good target rate.  Delay nitrogen fertilizer applications until April or May (after full green-up) if sod is installed in the off-season while dormant. 

Our website,, has more information on this subject or contact our office located at 236 Woodbine, Hot Springs or call 501-623-6841.

Master Gardener Information

Master Gardener meetings are held on the 3rd Thursday of each month at the Elks Lodge.  They’re open to the public and guests are welcome. For more information call the Extension Office at 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email Allen Bates at

EHC Information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For information on EHC contact Jessica Vincent on 623-684 or 922-4703 or email her at

4-H Information

We have several 4-H clubs for our Garland county youth who are 5 to 19 years old.  For more information on all the fun 4-H activities that are available for our youth, call Linda Bates at the Extension Office on 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email her at

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

By Allen Bates
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Allen Bates
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
(501) 623-6841

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  • The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

    The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.