What Type of Sod Should I Choose?
Don’t you hate it when all you want is a hot dog, but the menu has 12 different kinds?
Life is complicated. Let’s make your sod choices easy.
What’s the best sod for Central Florida?
You can’t go wrong if you choose from four top sod types. Hint: they’re all either St. Augustine or Zoysia.
Why are they so great?
St. Augustine is perfectly adapted to Florida’s climate. It loves hot, humid weather. It isn’t picky, growing in a variety of soils and light conditions. (But please give it at least two hours of sunlight a day if you want it to thrive.)
Zoysia is another Florida favorite. It’s green most of the year and recovers great from drought. It doesn’t grow too fast, resists weeds, stands up to wear, and adapts to a wide range of soil types.
All you have to do is narrow down the right sod type for you.
Here’s a look at the top four.
Classic St. Augustine
If your property is a mix of sun and shade — and many are — Classic St. Augustine is a great choice.
Wide blades. A beautiful, rich green color. Happy in direct sun or partial shade. Good disease and insect resistance.
It’s called “classic” for a reason.
Floratam St. Augustine
Choose this and you’re in good company. It’s the most common type of sod today for homes and businesses in Central Florida.
Thick and deep-rooted, it’s a beauty. Is it the right sod type for you?
- Floratam needs plenty of direct sunlight — a minimum of six hours or more per day.
- It likes to be tall, so keep it at 4 to 4.5 inches high.
A homeowner favorite around here, Zoysia looks great and thrives in lots of different conditions, is thick enough to help choke out weeds, and is pretty tough. Plus, it’s fun to say.
Palisades Zoysia tolerates low mowing — as low as half an inch. So it’s good for homeowners who like to keep a short lawn.
It works in areas with full sun to partial shade and is one of the most drought-resistant types of sod.
ProVista St. Augustine
People went a little crazy when this type of sod appeared on the scene.
ProVista sod, a trademarked sod by Scotts, promises a lush, dense, deep green lawn with fewer weeds and less mowing.
Sound like the right sod type for you? Here’s what has everybody so excited:
- ProVista has a deep green color and thrives in full sun, but also does well in moderate shade.
- It’s engineered to be slow growing, which means less mowing.
- ProVista grows dense to naturally crowd out weeds. It’s engineered to tolerate a broader range of weed control products, too, so you can control more weeds with ProVista than with other types of turf.
- ProVista will also remain greener with less fertilizer than standard Floratam sod. That means you can cut back on the fertilizer you use, saving money and keeping excess fertilizer out of the environment.
Choose from these four types of sod and know you have the best sod in Central Florida.
Time to celebrate with a hot dog.
How Do I Find Good Quality Sod?
If you secretly love the idea of being a detective, you’ll love the search for good quality sod.
The more you can find out about your sod, from the time it was just seeds to the minute it shows up at your yard, the better.
Grab your trench coat. We have some tips.
First, Look in the Right Place
So, you’re at Home Depot Saturday morning buying paint, some plywood, and two king-sized Snickers bars (we’re not judging) and you see a pallet of sod. It’s green, all rolled up, ready to go.
Tempting? Sure. So was that third Snickers. But remember, you need to know as much as you can about your new sod to ensure good quality. Can that teen employee fill you in? This is probably a pass.
Find a Sod Seller Who Will Answer Your Questions
Good quality sod starts early, at the sod farm where it was grown.
So start with a sod seller or installer who has a great relationship with sod farms and can answer your questions.
Ask your installer about the sod farm where they get their sod.
Do they use the right insecticides and fungicides to keep bugs and diseases from attacking?
Ask about sod webworms, ground-dwelling caterpillars that love feasting on grass. They can really destroy your lawn. Does the sod farm use a webworm preventative, to keep the sod free of those summer-time damaging pests? Not all farms do. It’s expensive.
Is the sod they buy free of weeds? Regularly fertilized?
Good Quality Sod: from Farm to Your Yard, Fast
Good quality sod has been well cared for and ready to make a great transition to your yard.
Your goal: sod that was cut at the sod farm in the morning and shows up in your yard the same day. Ask your seller or installer if that’s what will happen.
Some sod installers might store the sod overnight, or over the weekend, and water it to keep the top pieces green. When temperatures heat up the grass will become hot and diseased.
Take a Good Look
What does good quality sod look like?
- Dense, with nice, even color.
- Moist soil near the roots.
- Roots should be intertwined close together.
- The attached soil should be about one inch deep.
- There shouldn’t be any thatch. That’s a sign that it's old sod, not recently harvested.
Good quality sod begins with your informed questions. Don’t be shy.
What's Included in the Sod Installation Process?
What exactly happens once you’ve arranged for sod installation?
If you’re working with a quality sod installer, a lot.
They don’t exactly dump the rolls on your lawn, unroll them, stomp on them a few times and split.
What’s included? Here’s a look at the sod installation process:
Bye, Old Grass
First up, installers apply materials to kill off your old grass and any pesky weeds. This actually happens a week or two before the actual sod installation process.
You don’t want old ugly grass and weeds sneaking back through your pretty new lawn. It’s not possible to prevent every sneaky future weed, but this is a key step in preparing your lawn for sod installation.
Next up, they’ll mark sprinkler heads and any shallow cable lines so they don’t get cut during the sod removal process.
Then, time for the sod cutter, a walk-behind machine powered with a 5-horsepower gas engine. It has a sharp blade that slices through the old turf.
Crews will haul away your old grass. Good riddance, right?
Is Everything Level?
You want a nice, even, level lawn. No low areas or weird humps that could trip you as you walk across the lawn with a tray of drinks and your famous guacamole. The neighbors would talk about that for weeks.
Your installer will check the grading and make any needed corrections as they prepare your lawn for sod installation.
Sod, Of Course
Now the exciting part of the sod installation process! Your beautiful new sod lawn is installed, fresh from the farm.
Installers will match up all the seams, and skillfully fit the sod around obstacles like trees and walkways.
A Thorough Check of Your Irrigation Heads
Once your sod is installed, keeping it watered is really important. Roots dry out quickly, and gaps can appear if the sod loses moisture after installation, causing the pieces to shrink.
So your sod installers should make sure all irrigation heads are up and running, and properly adjusted so all corners of your lawn get water. Then, if they have access to your timer, they should set it accordingly.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? So how much time does it take to install sod?
A week? A couple weeks? Nope. The average yard takes just a day, once the initial step of killing the old grass is done.
Your sod should root in five to 15 days in the summer, and 20 to 30 days in the winter.
Detailed Care Instructions
Now what? Don’t worry, your sod installer won’t leave you in the lurch.
You should get detailed care instructions, so you can take great care of your new lawn, including the important watering and other attention it needs over the next few weeks.
How Much Does Sod Installation Cost?
There a lot of talk about green, green sod here, but there’s another green you’ll want to nail down: How much does sod installation cost?
Here’s a look at sod installation cost, including sod prices.
Like we mentioned earlier, before you can get your new sod installed, you need to get your old lawn removed.
Plan to spend approximately 36 cents per square foot to kill your existing grass and remove it. (Our price for this includes killing off the existing vegetation, repairing any irrigation damage we might cause during the process, and hauling vegetation away.)
If you want to tackle sod installation yourself, we’re happy to sell you our farm-fresh sod. We pick up fresh-cut sod from the farm and bring it directly to your property.
Here’s the approximate cost for three of the top-selling sod types (materials only.) Keep in mind sod prices in Orlando fluctuate throughout the year.
St. Augustine Floratam
Cost: 173.50 per pallet, plus tax. One pallet covers 400 square feet.
St. Augustine Classic
Cost: 175.50 per pallet, plus tax. One pallet covers 400 square feet.
Cost: $194.99 per pallet, plus tax. One pallet covers 400 square feet.
Tackling the job yourself? Expect to pay between $65 and $225 for sod delivery, depending on how much sod you order and where you live.
Cost for Sod, Sod Installation, and Removal
Too much work? We don’t blame you. The easiest choice is to hire us to remove your existing lawn and install a healthy new lawn.
Here’s the cost per square foot, including removal of your existing grass, the new sod, delivery, and installation:
St. Augustine: $1.05 per square foot.
Zoysia: $1.25 per square foot.
When is the Best Time to Install Sod in Central Florida?
What’s the best time of year to lay sod in central Florida?
A Tuesday in October. A Wednesday morning in December. The second Monday of April.
When it comes to laying a new sod lawn, pretty much any day is your lucky day.
Here in Orlando, sod can be laid practically any time of year. Unlike new grass from seed, a new sod lawn already has sturdy developed roots. That means it can take hold and get settled in during almost any season, as long as the ground isn’t frozen.
Sound too good to be true? OK, there are a few exceptions. Certain types of grass do prefer some months over others.
If you’re installing St. Augustine sod — and a lot of Central Florida homeowners do — October through May is an ideal time to lay this sod.
It’s not quite as happy to start out during the rainy season in June through September, but your new St. Augustine sod will still establish just fine, as long as there’s not a ton of rain in a short period of time. Nobody likes being soggy, right?
This is especially true if your yard is very shady. If your new sod doesn’t get enough sun to dry out after a rain, it can develop root rot, a fungus that will cause your pretty green grass to yellow, get thinner, and die.
When to install sod if your choice is Zoysia? Mark your calendar for March through October as the absolute best months for installation. But it’s pretty agreeable, and will take root in the other cooler months, too.
How much does temperature matter when deciding when to lay sod in Central Florida? Not much.
It’s really never too hot to lay sod, which is good news, right, since this is Florida.
But keep in mind the hotter the weather, the more important it is to follow the detailed watering instructions in our sod care guide. You absolutely don’t want your new sod to dry out in the heat.
Heat-loving Zoysia sod is actually happiest if it’s at least 80 degrees, but it will still establish at lower temperatures. It’ll just take longer to really get growing.
What about cold? Avoid installing sod if it’s colder than 25 degrees. Not only will your sod hate the deep freeze, it’s really hard for installers to lay sod wearing mittens.
Does Ground Source Have a Sod Warranty?
Guaranteeing a lawn isn’t like guaranteeing a blender or your laptop computer.
It’s a living, growing thing, and a lot can go wrong if you don’t give it the early care it needs.
That’s why not every installer offers a sod warranty.
We do here at Ground Source, but you have to do your part by following our detailed care instructions, and there are some reasonable conditions attached to our sod warranty.
We warranty sod for 30 days during certain times of the year, as long as customers adhere to our post-care requirements, which include treatment with a starter fertilizer, an approved insecticide, and an approved fungicide, as well as following our watering instructions. Some other restrictions apply.
How Do I Care for My New Sod?
New sod is kind of misleading. One day the installers drive away and it’s suddenly there, a new beautiful green lawn.
It seemed kind of easy, right? At least for you.
But now your new sod care begins. And you really need to stay on top of it for the next few weeks.
New Sod Care: It’s Thirsty
Imagine you just ate a whole bag of pretzels. Then, you drank some water. But then you ate a big bowl of popcorn. You drank some water but followed that up by eating a family size bag of chips.
Thirsty, thirsty, thirsty. That’s how your new sod lawn feels. (Also, you might want to consider eating a salad once in a while.)
Water is the most important step to keeping your new sod alive and thriving. We’ll be honest here, the timing is kind of complicated. You don’t want to water too little, or too much. You’ll water pretty often at first, then gradually reduce the amount and frequency as time goes on.
The good news is, our new sod care guide will tell you exactly what to do, right down to how many minutes on what days.
Next Up: Care for New Sod Includes Food
You know that salad we just mentioned? Your new sod needs it, too. Not salad, exactly, but important nutrients that will get it off to a great start. That means fertilizer.
A starter fertilizer will encourage your new sod’s roots to get established and grow nice and strong. The stronger the roots, the more your lawn will be able to protect itself from drought, disease, and insects.
You know how you eat breakfast, but then you’re hungry again by lunch?
Feeding your grass isn’t a one-time thing, either. Plan to continue feeding your lawn throughout the year to keep it healthy.
New Sod Care: Protect it from Insects and Disease
All that watering is important for new sod care, but it also can encourage lawn fungus.
So apply a systemic and curative fungicide within seven days of your sod installation. An insecticide at this time is a good idea, too.
Weed Control? Nope, Not Yet
It’s tempting to bust out the weed control to keep that beautiful lawn free of weedy villains but hold off for now. Weed control products can damage new turf.
Don’t freak out — you’re going to see a few weeds at first. Reducing watering according to the schedule we provide and mowing as soon as you’re able to will help prevent weeds.
Speaking of Mowing…
Yes, we know how much joy mowing brings to your life, but be patient, please.
Mow as soon as you're able to tug on the grass and it feels “tacked” to the ground. This usually happens after about two weeks in the summer and four weeks in the winter.
Remember, don’t cut more than one-third of the length the first time. And while this means a bit of extra work for you, bagging the clippings is best for your new lawn. If that isn’t an option, then rake them up.
Care for New Sod: Your Reward
You deserve a reward for all this new sod care. Take off your shoes and walk across your plush new lawn. Yes, it’s perfectly safe. Wiggle your toes.
Worth it, right? Let’s get started.
We’re sod experts, but our skills don’t stop there. We’re with you every step of the way as you plan your perfect outdoor space.
Sod, irrigation, landscape design: Let us transform your landscape from an embarrassing eyesore to a place you spend every spare minute.