Laying St. Augustine in the Cold

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by Landscape Poet, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638


    Here is the background. I have a client that wanted sod installed as chinch bugs destroyed a good part of his lawn this summer. He had some sod work done in the early spring before I picked him up and the contractor had did a absolute crap job ( loose seems, grass was yellow/orange with fungus) so he then called me.

    Well i told him that I really thought fall and winter was the best time to install - so he held off. He called a couple of weeks wanting to know about sod - I went over and measured him up and gave him the numbers. He struggled with the numbers for a little while (which I can understand with Christmas right around the corner and it was more than what he paid for before) but he finally called a couple weeks ago and said go ahead.

    So here is where the issues start and I need your experience if you have experience in FL with our sod or you have good knowledge about sod installation/soil mgmt etc.
    So after receiving the call, I call my removal guy and schedule the removal. Removal happens a few days later ( last Wed.) . Removal goes well and gets complete, but the issue with completing the job last week was that the sod farm said the sod in the field they were cutting currently was not speck. So we asked when they would be in a good field and could deliver 10 pallets of good sod. We were told this week so we scheduled for drop today in the afternoon. Sod gets here and it is in great shape, looks very good.

    Problem is that the weather conditions have dropped and it is currently going to be in the low 30's tonight and be in the mid to upper 30's for the next few nights with day time highs in the mid 60s and 70s over the next few days. My friend who is supervising the install and is a Master Gardener called his instructor at the extension who said it should be fine to still install the sod and it would be fine as long as we did not get long periods of freeze, for example a week or two like last week.

    My question is this - what can I expect from the sod. Will it just take longer for the sod to grab? This is what I expected, but any other concerns?

    How about watering it? I usually leave the customer instructions to water daily or as needed until it has soaked through the layer of sod and reached the soil underneath. I am thinking with the current conditions it might be best for him to water lightly first thing in the morning to bring the sod back up in temp after the low 30's at night and then allow it to bask in the FL sun all day long rather than try to water several times a day to get it constantly moist like you would with a spring or summer install.

    So what are your all's opinion on watering? How long it will take for the sod to grab etc. Your input is appreciated.


  2. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,506

    I'm still laying sod. I just get real picky if the sod is dry, thin or bad color I refuse the whole lot. I usually up the starter fert too so it can store up as much as possible before it goes dormant. My opinion on the water is continue several times a day for 2 weeks. I feel the very dry air we have now evaporates a lot before it gets taken up. Just my way but it has worked every year until the day temps stay below 50.
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  3. RAlmaroad

    RAlmaroad LawnSite Silver Member
    from SC
    Messages: 2,257

    Pour the water to the sod for at least two weeks. Light watering will not get the roots wet to grab the soil underneath. Roll it of course. I just put down a pallet the first of November. It is beautiful now with watering every day for about two hours the first two weeks. Of course with the sand it needs that amount. Remember to water deep. Light watering will evaporate and do nothing for the roots. Should be fine. In SC, the sod farm that I deal with, cuts about every day so someone is putting it down.
  4. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    This is categorically untrue. Roots need oxygen to grow. Keeping your soil and sod saturated is the best way to extend the time it takes to get the sod established, not reduce it. Watering sod on clay, or even pure sand, for two hours is simply ridiculous, and is a tremendous waste of water even in the summer heat. Then there are the nutrients you are leaching out of the profile due to the potentially massive amounts of water you are applying. Yikes :dizzy:


    With sod, you obviously need to keep it moist throughout the day. Depending on the soil it has been installed on, the amount of water to keep that soil at or near field capacity, which is the moisture level that will be the most conducive to fast establishment, will vary tremendously. For example, sod on clay. The irrigation required to keep the sod moist throughout the day will be more than adequate to keep the soil moist, if not saturated. For sand or a sandy soil, you may need to water more frequently to keep the soil moist, but at this time of year and environmental conditions (say temps not exceeding 70 F), I would think once a day, around mid day, would be adequate, regardless of the soil type. The run time depends on what type of sprinklers, the efficiency of the system, and the soil type. That said, the only way to be sure is to monitor your soil moisture for the first couple of days, and add/subtract from the run time as needed to keep the sod moist, and at the same time providing enough water to keep the soil at or near field capacity.

    In my soils at this time of year, rotors will get about 5-20 minutes, sprays 3-5 minutes for a relatively efficient system. Even at these short run times the soil will get and stay saturated, especially with the additional rain inputs.

    I agree with the freeze assessment. As long as you don't get an extended freeze, overnight temps in the high 20's shouldn't generate that much concern. If you expect there will be a potential for an extended frost/freeze in your area, it might not be a bad idea to do a short irrigation towards the end of the day, and again in the early morning. If there is a certain chance of freeze damage, then you are probably looking at doing the same as would be done for freeze sensitive crops, although that may not be an option.
  5. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    In Answer to your PM to me about this thread. Best advice I can give you is to stick to Grass Cutting and leave Lawn Care to those with the Certifications and knowledge to do the job correctly. In this case you have caused the customer more expense with a second sod install when a Real professional might of been able to save the first Sod install. You also advised the customer to install Sod at a unfavorable time of the year causing great expense of Irrigation cost, in a state where water costs like gold. BTW not to say the present cold weather would have been avoided.

    If you real want to become a professional then Sign up for the Georgia Turf Grass study program. A local guy bought that program and I have seen it and feel it is very good. BTW I believe it only costs around $ 400.00 which is less than I paid for one semester for college classes.
  6. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638


    I appreciate you time and consideration in putting your thoughts into this questions. You know that I respect your knowledge and appreciate all that I have learned through your sharing on this site.
    I appreciate you thorough input here.
  7. fl-landscapes

    fl-landscapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,542

    uh oh, you may have a man crush going on:laugh:
  8. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638


    First let me say that I do respect you also, but let me say that at times your bed side manner leaves a little be desired. I am sure that this is my quick typing last night that did not explain in detail the full issue here.

    First - I think you are getting sassy because you are thinking that I took over the PCO portion of the lawn care. That is incorrect - I have a licensed PCO that I hand all of my NO .....THEY COULD NOT SAVE THIS fact I worked with them on what areas they thought could be saved and what they thought needed replaced. Areas that they felt they could bring together quickly....areas less than 18 inches in Diameter .....were left according to what they felt about the areas. They have been servicing the account since I took it over and TG went away. So again you are pulling the trigger on a issue that is not a concern, but yet you try to say leave it to a real professional?????? Ric, I am BMP certified , have my limited as well continue to take many workshops at the County Extension to continue my education beyond the need of my Continuing Education please take the I am a Licensed PCO attitude and go somewhere else with it. I asked for your insights in regards to this because I feel that you are knowledgeable and respect your education. What I get out of a simple request for some insight on your part is YET ANOTHER degrading remark by RIC......speaking to me like I am just some smuck that mows the lawns short and flies through clients lawns and hacks their shrub. Now do not get me wrong - I may not posses your knowledge base and have your education - if I did - why would I ask you a question? But what I and I am sure others would appreciate if you gave your opinion like Kiril did - and not try to degrade me in the process. I am educated Ric - I do have a BS in Bus. Mgmt with a minor focusing on Human Resource Mgmt.....but this is what I please do not talk down to me because I have not yet went through the processes to get a full PCO license.....I am working my way .....please respect me and if you are not willing to give your insight to others......then why are you on this site? Just to inform everyone that you are LICENSED PCO?

    In reguards to the sod job that was laid previously - it was earlier this summer was full of fungus - so much so that it was almost orange...this was on the day of install....I personally seen it then as I service several accounts on that block.....seems were gapping in areas several inches etc etc.

    Now even though I do not have a license Ric.....I do take the time to visit Sod Farms.....see what is going on where I am buying from....have a working relationship with several suppliers who know that if they send sh*t will get sent back on the I get quailty product because I insist on it. The install site is always cut with a bob cat and/or sod cutter and then the appropriate grading is applied.....then the sod is installed in nice tight brick formations with virtually no seems. This is more than 99.9% of others that do this , including companies that do nothing but sod installations and because of the quality I do...that is why this part of the business is bringing in more and more revenue each month, as you know word of mouth does wonders, because I do not even advertise this service, no have I ever that I am aware of.

    Not trying to be a prick to you Ric, but I asked your opinion, on a site which is based on discussions of the green industries, and you do not give it but rather give another lecture on how us simple "Lawn Boys" can not do anything right because we do not have our PCO license. It was a simple request to get your input.

    In regards to your PM - I understand that some people pay you for your knowledge - but again - this site is one which is about the green industry....what the hell are you doing on here if you which not to give your opinion.

    And yes, I did not give you a link directly to this thread, I am SOOOOOO sorry that you had to look through my post and click on the second one down and read it from there....I bet you must be just plum wore out from that huh.

    Come on Ric,

    People here that respect your opinion here that ask you a question, give it , just like Kiril did. Do you think you are game for that without all the lectures about having a PCO....especially in a case like this were it was not even relevant?
  9. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    No Man Crush... I just respected his professionalism. He gave his opinion ....and from the man that probably has the most education on this site in regards to our lectures about not knowing as much as he did (being a real professional) ...he just gave his input, one of which I asked for, because he obviously knows what he is talking about.
  10. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    Thanks for your thought Patriot. I do not use a start fert on my installs unless the company I partner with does it and I am not sure what they use, I think the put down something like a 0-0-22 if I remember right, but not sure...but the traditional starter fertilizer I stopped a couple years ago on installs where they do not have a service because the extension stopped recommending it. I believe their thoughts were that it would essentially just go to run off because of the excessive watering on new sod and the leaching. I have just taken that approach and not had any issues. On a few installs I have had clients insist that I put down a starter fertilizer....I have put down milorganite -and to be honest - I do not see a huge difference in the establishment time of the lawns treated in the past and the ones now.
    Check with your extension office and see if they say the same about not fertilizing new sod too...because if they do you could save the expense and save our aquifers

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