The Ultimate Guide to Sod for Central FL Lawns

Pro Tips for Installation & Maintenance

 

 

So, you’ve been standing in your front yard for a while now, staring at your lawn. 

Is it getting any greener? 

We didn’t think so. 

You think sod might be the answer, but you have questions. 

How do you know if you need new sod? How much will it cost? What exactly does installation look like?

Here’s your ultimate guide to walking you through it, start to finish.

 

How To Know It's Time to Replace Your Sod

 

Maybe you’re waiting for a sign to appear one day in your front yard that says “It’s Time to Replace Your Sod.”

Sorry, it’s not that obvious. But you’ve probably noticed some signs your lawn isn’t the velvety green carpet you’d like. 

How do you know it’s time for new sod? 

Bare Spots

When your lawn has bare spots that don't seem to go away, no matter how much you water or fertilize them, you probably need to replace the sod in those areas. 

Maybe hungry insects had an all-you-can-eat buffet. Maybe a lawn fungus or disease killed some spots. 

Bare spots can also be caused by heavy foot traffic on the lawn or urine from your pets, completely killing the grass.

If all your valiant efforts to revive these bare spots fail, it’s time to replace them with new sod.

weeds in landscaping

 

Weeds, Weeds, Weeds

If your lawn has been completely taken over by weeds and using weed killer doesn't help, it’s time to get serious.

Some weeds are so persistent they won’t scram until you kill them at the root. If your lawn is full of them, that often means starting over.

 

Your Lawn Needs a Change 

Maybe the previous homeowner chose the wrong kind of grass for the yard. It happens. Could be Zoysia seemed like a good idea, but it just isn’t thriving.

Better to replace the lawn with grass that will love its location and thrive than to keep fighting a losing battle to keep it healthy.

 

How to Tell if Grass Is Really Dead 

Don’t play the organ music just yet. That brown grass might just be sleeping. 

Here in central Florida, grass becomes dormant and turns brown in the winter. Growth naturally slows down, and it becomes less green.

Worried it might be dead? Give it a tug. If the plants pull out from the ground easily, they're probably dead. If the roots hold fast when pulled, the plants are dormant.

If your grass is dormant, it will naturally green up again in the spring. If it’s really dead, time to replace it with a lush green carpet of sod. 

So, next up... 

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How To Choose The Best Sod for Your Lawn

 

The last time you lingered at an ice cream stand staring at the tantalizing choices, how long did it take you to choose what kind? 

Mint chip? Butter pecan? Peanut butter cup? 

It’s tough, right?

Same thing with sod. Fresh green grass looks really good. 

But this takes some thought. You can’t just pick Zoysia because it’s fun to say. 

All sod isn’t the same. Different types do well in different conditions and different circumstances. If you choose the wrong type for your yard’s conditions, it won’t thrive. 

You need to ask yourself some questions to hone in on what your yard really needs.

Let’s get to it — it’s actually kind of fun.

sod install process 6

Sunny? Shady? What’s Your Yard Like?

Most varieties of sod thrive in sun, so if your yard is sunny, you’ll have plenty of choices. 

But what if your yard is shady? Certain varieties of St. Augustine sod don’t require much direct sunlight, so it’s great for shady lawns as well as lawns that receive direct sun.

 

How Do You Use Your Yard?

Are kids playing soccer out there every weekend? 

Empire Zoysia, Palisades Zoysia, and Celebration Bermuda are all more tolerant of foot traffic than other sod varieties. 

Do you have a dog?

St. Augustine will hold up better to dog urine than other sod varieties. Zoysia, for instance, is more susceptible to brown spots.

Think about how you use your yard, not just how you want it to look.

 

Love to Mow? Or Heck, No?

Do you wake up on Saturdays all happy because you get to mow? Or are you swearing right now just thinking about it?

If you enjoy the process of maintaining a nice lawn, Celebration Bermuda might be for you.

It’s deep blue-green with fine blades and a soft feel, but that beauty requires some maintenance. 

It does best maintained with a reel mower, and likes to be mowed low. In the heavy growing season, it requires frequent mowing, at least three times a week.

It requires daily watering and needs monthly weed and fertilization treatments.

Are you tired just thinking about all that? Want absolutely no maintenance? Your perfect lawn might not be sod at all, but artificial turf

This artificial grass is gaining popularity with fuss-free homeowners. It looks natural — but no maintenance! It’s green all the time, is long-lasting; environmentally friendly.

It’s significantly more expensive upfront — expect to pay $8-$12 per square foot. But you could save money over time on maintenance. 

nice lawn house sod installation 10

 

Want an All-Around Good Grass?

St. Augustine sod is a Florida favorite for a reason. Actually, lots of reasons. 

Perfectly adapted to Florida’s climate, it thrives in hot, humid conditions and grows in a variety of soils and light conditions, though two plus hours of sunlight per day is needed for long-term success.

Zoysia is another top pick and probably wins for the coolest name.

It looks great in a wide range of environmental conditions — green most of the year, dense, with great drought recovery.

It doesn’t grow too fast, resists weeds, stands up to wear, and adapts to a wide range of soil types. 

Think of it as high-end grass without all the really picky maintenance of Bermuda.

 

Not Picky at All?

No problem. And no judging. Sometimes, no fuss, basic sod will do just fine. 

Argentine Bahia is perfect if you don’t have an irrigation system, your budget doesn’t allow for higher-end sod varieties, or you don’t want to use many chemicals.

Bahia is famous for growing in bad soil with little water. It offers a wilder, pasture-like look, and needs very little fertilizer and pest control. 

Once you choose, it’s time for installation. (This is getting exciting, right?!)

 

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Understanding Sod Installation Process & Cost

 

Good sod installers might make it look easy, but it isn’t.

Sure, the end product is a beautiful instant lawn that looks like it magically appeared, but there’s a lot that goes on before the oohs and aahs.

Like what, you ask? Let’s walk through the steps involved, whether you install it yourself, or hire it done. 

Then, a look at the costs.

lawn team skid steer dead lawn sod removal

 

1. Kill Existing Weeds and Grass

Whether you install your own sod or hire it done, this is a crucial first step. Skip it, and the old grass and weeds will creep back into your fresh new lawn. You’ll hate that. 

Don’t be in a hurry here. The process can take from one to three applications, depending on what type of weeds are lurking in your lawn. The amount of weeds can be a factor here, too.

 

2. Prep the Area for Sod Installation 

Next up, flag all irrigation heads, strip the area with sod cutters, and haul away all the old sod so there’s nice bare soil for your new sod. These are important preliminary sod installation steps.

 

3. Make Everything Level

Level out any imperfections on your lawn. The last thing you want is to spend money on new sod installation and then realize later that there were low areas that weren't addressed or humps that you could stumble over. Some corrective grading before sod installation goes a long way.

 

4. Installation! 

Now for the brand new grass! The sooner your fresh sod goes from farm to your soil, the better, so it doesn’t dry out. The same day is best.

sod install process 7

Don't overlap the rolls of sod. It’s tempting to do this, to make sure there aren’t any gaps between rolls. But you’ll end up with an uneven, lumpy lawn. Just fit the seams together as tightly as possible. 

Laying sod perfectly is tricky if you don’t do it every day like the pros do. You have to line up the seams just right, and expertly trim around fences and trees.

 

5. Check and Adjust Irrigation Heads

Now that your sod is installed, keeping it watered is crucial. Now is the time to make sure all irrigation heads are up and running, and properly adjusted so all corners of your lawn get water. Set the timer accordingly.

Be sure you get any needed irrigation repairs  — or new installation — done before your new sod arrives! 

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So, How Much Does All This Cost? Your Sod 

 

Here’s a breakdown:

Sod Removal

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.) 

 

lawn team skid steer dead lawn sod removal 2

 

Sod Prices 

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 common varieties of sod (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.
  • Zoysia
    Cost: $194.99 per pallet, plus tax. One pallet covers 400 square feet.
  • Argentina Bahia
    Cost: $106.99 per pallet, plus tax. One pallet covers 400 square feet.

 

Delivery Cost 

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, 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:

  • Classic St. Augustine: $1.05 per square foot.
  • Zoysia: $1.25 per square foot.
  • Argentina Bahia: 90 cents per square foot.

Obviously, a new sod lawn is a big investment. So, next up.... 

nice lawn house sod installation 4

 

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Caring For Your New Sod

 

Woo hoo, you have a new sod lawn! What next?

Have a big “new sod” party and invite 50 guests to come over for a soccer game? Please, no.

Go away on vacation to celebrate? Absolutely not.

It’s time to baby that new sod for a few weeks. 

Here’s a mini instruction guide: 

 

First Up: Plenty of Water 

Your new sod is really thirsty.

Water too little, and your sod will wilt and die. Roots dry out quickly, and gaps can appear if the sod loses moisture after installation, causing the pieces to shrink.

But water too much, and disease will set in.

How the heck are you supposed to know how much to water? Well, it’s complicated. 

crew team irrigation inspection adjustment 2

In general, it’s a gradual process. You’ll water a couple of times a day for the first week, drop back to once a day the second week, and four times a week the third week.

But there are very specific watering instructions based on your yard’s conditions. That’s why you’ll get detailed instructions for watering new sod in our sod care guide.

You’ll know what times to water, for how long, and even which of your irrigation heads to use for what amount of time.

The instructions for watering new sod vary, depending on what type of grass, what time of year your sod is installed, and if it's planted in sun or shade.

 

New Sod is Hungry, Too

A starter fertilizer will encourage your new sod’s roots to get established.

Fertilizing new sod will strengthen the roots. The more durable the turf, the less susceptible the grass will be to disease and insects.

 

Preventing Insects, Weeds, and Disease 

Your new sod is getting a lot of water at first as it gets established, and that extra moisture can make it susceptible to fungus.

Apply a systemic and curative fungicide within seven days of your sod installation. An insecticide at this time is a good idea, too.

What about weeds? Grit your teeth and ignore them for now. Weeds can’t really be controlled during the first few weeks, as weed control products can damage new turf. Weeds are also a natural consequence of the extra water new sod needs, so you’re going to see a few weeds at first. 

 

No Soccer Games Yet, Please 

You can’t wait to wiggle your bare toes in the lush green grass, right? Go ahead, enjoy. 

But avoid any heavy foot traffic for now. No construction, wheelbarrows, or soccer games until your new lawn gets established after a few weeks.

You don’t want the fragile root system to tear before it’s fully established.

lawn shrub

OK to Mow?  No

Let your lawn rest — it’s been through a lot. 

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. 

If the sod isn't starting to tack after this amount of time, that likely means it’s getting too much water.

When you mow for the first time, go easy  — don’t cut more than one-third of the length. Don’t leave excess clippings on the ground. Bagging them is best for your new lawn. If that isn’t an option, rake them up. 

 

Caring for Your Sod for the Long Haul

These important first steps are just the beginning. Your lawn needs your help in the months and years ahead to help it thrive.

Continue that proper mowing, taking off no more than a third of the blade at a time.

After four to six weeks, transition to longer periods of watering, but fewer times. You want your grass to have to search for water, sending its roots deeper into the soil.

Stay on top of fertilizer, weed control, aeration and overseeding, and grub control.

Yes, it’s a lot of work. So enjoy your reward — take plenty of time for lounging on your green and healthy lawn.

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How To Choose The Best Sod Installer

 

If a guy rolls up in a truck loaded with rolls of pretty green sod, he must know what he’s doing, right? 

But what if he doesn’t? Maybe he didn’t even read this ultimate sod guide! Your whole new lawn is at risk.

Sod installation is trickier than it looks, and every step really matters. 

How do you find a skilled and experienced sod installer who will do the job right, with fresh, healthy sod, from start to finish? 

It’s all about asking the right questions.

Here you go: 

 

1. Will You Help Me Choose the Best Sod for My Site?

Sod is sod, right? Well, it’s all green. But there are lots of differences you can’t necessarily see. 

There are so many types of grass available, and choosing the right one is a really important first step, as we mentioned earlier. 

Make sure they’ll help you match the right sod to your site’s conditions, so your new sod lawn will thrive. 

crew team sod installation equipment 7

2. Do You Completely Kill Existing Weeds and Grass?

This is a big one, remember? If sod installers skip this step, old grass and weeds will creep back into your pretty new lawn.

If they act like this is no big deal, move on. 

 

3. Where Do You Get Your Sod?

Take the time to know exactly where your sod comes from, and how quickly it arrives and will be installed after being cut on the farm. 

sod farm harvesting 26

The sooner your fresh sod goes from farm to your soil, the better, so it doesn’t dry out. The same day is best. You don’t want sad sod that's been sitting on a pallet, drying out.

You want the healthiest sod possible, ready to take root, thrive, and make your property look fantastic.

 

4. Will You Check and Adjust My Irrigation Heads?

Once your sod is installed, keeping it watered is crucial.

Roots dry out quickly, and gaps can appear if the sod loses moisture after installation, causing the pieces to shrink.

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.

 

5.  Will You Give Me Detailed Instructions on New Sod Care?

Getting your sod expertly installed is just the beginning. Now it’s up to you. Gulp. 

We walked you through the basics, but make sure your sod installers don’t just lay the sod and run without giving you detailed instructions on how to care for it.

Hire a sod installer who still cares about your lawn, even after they drive away. 

 

6. Do You Offer a Warranty? 

Not all sod installers do. You want some protection in case installation mistakes cause problems.

Look for a warranty of 30 days, but be aware there will likely be conditions involved. A sod warranty might be based on installation during certain times of the year and require that you follow certain post-care requirements.

crew team sod installation 9

 

Next Up: A Bit of Homework

A few things for you to check:

  • How long have they been in business? Look for an established company that will still be there when you need them. 
  • Do they have positive reviews? Check their Google rating and reviews.
  • Are they happy to share references so you can drive by the homes of other customers to take a look?

 

Need Quality Sod Installation? Choose Ground Source 

 

We want your new lawn to thrive as much as you do. That’s why we’re happy to answer all your sod installer questions.

We’ll have a few questions to ask you, too. 

We’ll ask about your ability to care for your new turf and chat about the conditions of your property, from your irrigation set-up to the amount of sunlight available.

Your answers will help us guide you to the best sod choice for your property and lifestyle.

dog-in-lawn

Then, expect quality, every step of the way. 

Our sod is cut fresh the day it’s scheduled for delivery to you, not stashed on a pallet somewhere destined to dry out.

We drive about an hour farther than we need to and pay about 12% more in order to get sod that’s consistently high quality and holds up great, even during the more challenging summer installation months. 

If you decide to do the installation yourself, we’ll deliver that fresh sod right to you.

Better yet, leave the whole hassle to us. You just sit back and daydream about barefoot picnics in your gorgeous new grass. 

Either way, you’ll get detailed instructions on exactly how to care for your lush new lawn, day by day.

Excited? So are we. 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.

Are you ready to enjoy the vibrant, impressive landscape you've always wanted? Request a quote today! We’ll help you review your options and then transform your property.

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