Sod – Laying too late

Q: I have a friend who purchased ten pallets of fescue sod. She put down one pallet the same day. The other nine pallets were not installed until two days later. The first pallet put down looks great. Only twenty percent of the remaining sod lived. The supplier said this happened due to not laying the sod on the first day. Does this sound normal?

A: Unfortunately for your friend, the supplier is correct. Sod should always be laid within twenty four hours of delivery. The grass and soil microorganisms trapped in the pile give off heat and “cook” the sod in short order. This is much that same way a compost pile “heats up”. Turf specialist Clint Waltz says an increase in internal pallet temperatures can be measured within hours of harvest. In high value environments (putting greens, Super Bowl turf, etc), refrigerated trucks are used to transport sod.

If sod can’t be laid immediately, lay the pieces on a driveway and water often enough to keep them moist. If your friend decides to lay sod again, plan on three hours per pallet (five hundred square feet) per person. Stock PLENTY of lemonade for the sod layers since they will be exhausted afterwards!

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