How and When to Plant Bermuda Grass Sod
Bermuda grass sod need warm, moist soil to germinate, grow, and spread. During cool temperatures (generally below 50 degrees Fahrenheit) bermuda grass sod will not grow and spread; it becomes dormant. However, bemudagrass sod can be successfully laid during the dormant season so long as the ground is not frozen and the same soil preparation is given as for seed and plugs.
Proper soil preparation, including a test for pH, can make a noticeable difference in the speed with which your new lawn grows, the hardiness in winter and drought, and the ease of on-going care and maintenance. Nevertheless, bermuda grass sod does well enough in clay, sandy mixes, and rich, loamy soil that assuring a clean, tilled soil bed is usually sufficient to get your bermuda grass sod off to a good start.
Our simple, easy-to-follow chart below offers a suggested bermuda grass sod planting plan that should be quite OK for most home and business owners. Remember that local conditions and the amount of care you put into the planting process can affect your results and you should make adjustments accordingly.
Many steps for planting grass are the same. For all of our planting charts, however, we highlight the steps that are specific to the type of grass that is being discussed with a ±so you can quickly focus on the unique planting aspects.
Clear the area. Remove current growth by using a brush or non-selective grass kill product and waiting several days for it to take effect. Alternatively bring in several inches of screened top soil and grade accordingly.
Prepare the soil. Be sure the soil is tilled and loose to a minimum depth of 2 - 3 inches, but ideally 3 - 5 inches. Remove large rocks and roots. Be sure the surface is smooth and angled to direct water run-off away from buildings and to avoid puddling.
Test the soil. Determine the pH of the soil. While many homeowners skip this step, your bermuda grass will establish and grow better with proper pH. For bermuda grass, soil pH ideally should be between 6.5 and 7.5. Soil pH that is much below 6.5 should receive an application of lime. While retail soil test kits are available, your local university extension office can provide a much more accurate analysis and recommendation for your lawn.
Fertilize - A typical starter fertilizer common to big box and mom and pop retails stores is adequate to assure proper nutrients for the new bermuda grass sod.
Lay the sod. Sod is typically provided in rolls or on pallets as squares. When laying the sod, stagger or offset the individual pieces similar to the way masons place bricks, or like a checkerboard. Use sod shears to trim the sod to the edge of sidewalks, driveways, and landscape areas. After laying the sod, use a roller or tumbler to smooth the sod edges and assure firm contact with the soil. Look for dips in the lawn and under-fill low sections by peeling back the sod. This will help minimize uneven mowing and drainage problems later.
Water your bermudagrass sod immediately after planting. Thereafter, the soil should be kept moist until the sod germinates and begins to grow. Once the new growth consistently covers the planting area, gradually trim your watering back a day or two at a time. Watch the grass for wilting or discoloring to help monitor when you have reduced your watering too much.
Under ideal conditions, bermuda grass sod will establish nicely within 30 - 60 days, faster than seed or plugs. However, allow a full growing cycle for your sod to fully establish.
Mow your new bermuda grass. Allow the blades of grass to reach 2 to 2.5 inches before mowing. Set your mower height to remove no more than 1/4 of the length of the grass. Continue to take only small fractions of the grass length with each mowing which may mean that you need to mow your bermuda grass twice a week for the remainder of the growing season. You can mow your bermuda grass sod more closely (as low as 1/2 inch) the next season.