Everyone wants that perfect lawn look. Green, lush, perfectly mowed to the exact height — it’s the dream scenario for every Gainesville homeowner. Of course, laying seed, watering it, and helping it to grow (all while resting the urge to mow it) takes time. And as a busy professional, lawn care is something you don’t exactly have a lot of time to do. Wouldn’t it be so much faster if you could just lay some grass? You probably see where we’re going with this: the solution to your problem is sod. Today, we’re going to dive into our sod installation guide for Gainesville, FL homeowners. Let’s start by unpacking what we mean when we say “sod.”
What is sod exactly?
First, a quick definition. Sod is sections of grass cut from an established surface with roots and dirt still attached. Installing sod is an almost instantaneous way to get that magazine-worthy yard of your dreams.
However, it does come with its own challenges compared to just re-seeding your lawn. It’s not like simply laying new flooring in your house. It takes several specific steps and processes to make sure that the sod properly takes root in your yard. That’s why we put together this handy sod installation guide for you and others in the Gainesville area.
The preferred sod to use in Gainesville, FL
One of the first things you need to figure out is which sod is best. This will depend on your location and how you expect your lawn to be used.
For lawns in the Gainesville area, warm-season grasses are the way to go. If you have pets or plan to spend a lot of time in your yard, you also want to look for a grass type that can withstand this added stress.
How to pick the right kind of sod for Gainesville, FL
Grass types like Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Bahia grow well in our area and hold up to both the elements and light household foot traffic. As Florida’s summers can get extremely hot, hearty grass such as Zoysia can withstand even the highest temperatures and driest seasons. Zoysia does, however, grow into surrounding shrub beds which will require herbicides to control or a deep solid edge. Bahia grass is particularly helpful for erosion control, perhaps earning its title from the tropical regions of Brazil with the same name. St Augustine grass is a favorite for Florida lawns because it not only tolerates heat and humidity but it also does well with salt so it can thrive in coastal yards.
When to install sod in Gainesville, FL
Once you’ve determined your preferred sod type, you need to know when to install it. Sod needs to be harvested and installed while still fresh. It can last up to 3 days, but the sooner it is installed after harvesting the less stressed and the better it will do in its new home.
The time of year is also an important consideration when laying sod. Here in Northern Florida, the ideal time is either spring or fall. Basically, you want to avoid both freezing temperatures and extremely hot and dry days. Install on a hot day is doable though too, just be sure to keep the sod extra moist to counteract the effects of the sun.
Must-haves to get a good lawn in Gainesville, FL
So, now that you’ve chosen a style of sod and have a free weekend on your calendar to install it, what are some other must-haves? To get a good lawn in Gainesville, FL, you want to start with time to prepare.
“Wait, I thought this was about installation?” Yes, and just like any other process, you have to prepare for it. Think about running a marathon: you don’t just strap on a pair of shoes and get going. You train for weeks and months leading up to it, buying the right kind of shoes and clothing for the job.
- Prepare the area and clean out any debris. You want the soil to be clean and clear so that the sod can take root in it easily. Weeds and other plants will get in the way and prevent the sod from surviving installation.
- Grab a small hand shovel and a rake. This is so you can both dig holes and lay topsoil. A good estimate is to lay between one and three inches of topsoil across the entire area where you will be performing the sod installation.
- Use a sharp knife, shovel, or an edger, cut the sod into strips. We recommend 2 to 3-foot wide sections. Lay them in a pattern with tight seams. Start in one section of your yard, working your way across strategically. Once finished, cut off any excess along the appropriate edges.
Irrigation and watering your sod installation in Gainesville, FL
Finally, grab your water hose and thoroughly water the entire area. This helps your sod and the soil below bond. Of course, like any other grassy area, you can overwater. One of the things we want you to walk away from today with this sod installation guide for Gainesville, FL is that you need to start watering within a half hour of laying your sod. You should also water it once a day for approximately twenty to fifty minutes at a time depending on the sprinkler head being used. After watering once a day for a month you can go to once every other day for another month, then to the St. Johns Water Management district recommended watering of twice a week in the early morning when it is coolest. You’ll know when your sod has properly taken hold in your soil if it becomes difficult to move — this means the roots have firmly planted themselves into the ground.
It’s always a good idea to water during the early morning or evening hours. Essentially, you want to water when it’s cooler out. Be sure to not skip the edges as well.
Bonus tip: the best sod installation guide for Gainesville, FL
Sod installation in Gainesville, FL can be tricky, especially as one tries to navigate our unique climate seasons against their schedules. That’s why we offer Sod Installation Service to all Gainesville area residents. We’ll take care of debris removal, work with you on choosing the right sod for your yard, make certain that it’s cut and seamed properly, and will ensure that your watering schedule is appropriate.
Here are some great resources to help your lawn look its best: