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Home Lawn and Turf in Mississippi

Planting Methods

When you select a turfgrass for your lawn, consider the method of establishing the grass. Some grasses can be seeded. Others must be planted by vegetative sprigs, plugs, or solid sod. Table 1 on page 3 lists the method of planting for each turfgrass. Also refer to Table 6 on page 14.

Seed.
When seeding, use top-quality seed from a reliable nursery or seed company. Seed should be fresh and certified as to purity and germination percentage. Do not buy old seed left over from the last planting season. They are not a bargain at any price.

The seed of many turfgrasses are extremely small and difficult to plant. This is especially true of bermudagrass, centipedegrass, and carpetgrass. They are also expensive. To prevent waste and ensure even spreading, you can mix these seed with moist masonry sand before planting. For best results, mix five parts moist sand with one part seed in a dry container; then use a fertilizer spreader to distribute the seed evenly. Be sure to calibrate the fertilizer spreader to deposit seed in small amounts. Spread the seed with several applications, using crisscrossing patterns.

Determine how much seed you need before buying grass seed. The planting rates are given in pounds needed per 1,000 square feet of planting area. The amount of sprigs, plugs, and sod are also shown per 1,000 square feet in Table 6. To find how many square feet you have, measure the length and width of the area to be planted. Then multiply the length times the width.

Here is an example: The lawn measures 110 feet by 80 feet. Multiply 110 feet by 80 feet to get 8,800 square feet of total area. You would need 4.4 pounds of common bermudagrass seed to plant this lawn.

ScarifierScarify.
After seeding, harrow or scarify the planting area lightly. You can do this with a conventional farming harrow or with a yard rake. You also can make a homemade scarifier. The harrowing or scarifying ensures a shallow coverage of the seed. If you do this with power equipment, be sure the seed are covered with no more than one-eighth inch of soil. Don’t scarify Kentucky bluegrass, since the seed need light for best germination.

After the seed are covered by scarification, roll or pack the planting area. Homeowners sometimes skip this step, since lawn rollers and cultipackers are difficult to find in some communities. However, if you can find this equipment, roll the planted area to firm the soil and seed.

Seed germination is more rapid if you water the planting area immediately after planting and keep it moist, but not wet, during germination. However, it is almost impossible to water large areas evenly without irrigation equipment, and many homeowners, therefore, wait for rain rather than trying to moisten large planting areas.

Don’t overwater, since this can wash the seed away. Be sure to keep the planted area moist by shallow watering during germination. Once the grass has sprouted and begins active growth, apply more water less frequently to promote deeper root growth.

Vegetative planting with sprigs, plugs, and solid sod.
If you use sprigs, plugs, or solid sod to establish your lawn, be well organized for the planting procedure. You will be using live turfgrass rather than seed.

The planting area must be prepared and “all systems go” before you purchase your planting stock.

The amount of sprigs, plugs, or sod you need is determined by the size of the planting area. It is a good idea to contact your nursery before the planting day, since certain varieties of turfgrass may not be available and must be ordered.

Vegetative planting takes more time than planting seed. Be sure to budget your time for the amount of area you are planting. A good worker can plant about 300 plugs in an hour. That covers about 300 square feet on 12-inch spacing. It takes about the same amount of time to plant sprigs in rows 12 inches apart.

Plan your time carefully when dealing with live sod. If you must hold your sod for several days, be sure to protect it properly. Unstack it and unroll the single sheets of turf. Place the turf in an area protected from sun and drying wind. Water as needed to keep turf moist. Do not allow sod to dry. Plant it within 3 days.

Preparing vegetative stock for planting.
Preparing stock for plantingTurfgrasses are sold in solid strips about 18 inches wide and 30 inches long. An easy way to change sod to plugs is to use a sharp butcher’s knife or axe to cut the plugs approximately 2 inches square. Solid sods can be changed to sprigs by shredding the sod in a clean soil/leaf shredder commonly used for composting in the home garden.

Another commonly used method for shredding sod is cutting long, narrow strips approximately 1 inch wide from the solid sod. These strips are then planted continuously in the rows that have been prepared in the planting area. Rolling and cultipacking are important for sprig and plug planting. This ensures firmly planted sprigs or plugs.

Planting solid soil is easiestPlanting solid sod is the easiest method of vegetative establishment. It is also the most expensive, since it requires more turfgrass per planting area. The sod is laid, individually, side by side and end to end. The process is similar to laying tile blocks on a floor. Cultipacking or rolling is recommended to firm and even the planting area.

Watering is crucial. When planting sprigs, plugs, or solid sod, water immediately after planting. This is crucial. The sprigs, plugs, or sod have few roots when planted. The foliage can dry very quickly. Drying can occur within a few minutes when planted in hot summer sun. You should water sprigs, plugs, and sod within 5 minutes after planting.

roll the plugsIt is necessary to have a helper responsible for watering during planting. You should closely monitor the watering procedure to avoid overwatering, which can cause erosion, especially between the rows of plugs or sprigs. When watering solid sod, be sure to check several areas to ensure that water is being applied evenly and thoroughly. The soil beneath the sod must be moist during establishment. Applications of water may be necessary each day for sprigs, plugs, or sod. Within 2 weeks, vegetative plantings should show obvious signs of establishment, and watering can be less frequent and at greater depth to encourage deeper root growth.

Get ready to mow.
When a new lawn is planted, there will always be weed competition. Weed seed are turned up in planting. They sprout and grow more quickly than desirable grasses. Mowing height is a major method of controlling weed growth during the establishment of a new lawn. Weeds can quickly overgrow and shade out desirable turfgrasses and must be mowed regularly for best control. The mowing height for newly established lawns, therefore, is critical.
Mow new grasses at 2 inches to ensure more leaf area to make food for new roots. Mowing heights can be adjusted to normal height in 6 weeks. Chemical weed control is not recommended on newly planted grasses until at least 2 months after establishment.

Recommended Rates for Planting Turfgrass

Kind

Planting method

Germination time

How much to use per 1,000
square feet of planting area

Seeded
bermudagrass

Seeding

10 days @ temp > 70 °F

1/2 pound seed*

Centipedegrass

Seeding

21 days @ temp > 70 °F

4 ounces seed**

Carpetgrass

Seeding

10 days @ temp > 70 °F

1 pound seed*

Kentucky bluegrass

Seeding

14 days @ temp > 70 °F

1 ½ pounds seed*

Creeping fescue

Seeding

14 days @ temp > 70 °F

3 pounds seed*

Tall fescue

Seeding

10 days @ temp > 70 °F

4 pounds seed*

Bermudagrass
Centipedegrass
St. Augustinegrass
Carpetgrass
Zoysiagrass

Vegetative sprigs
Set sprigs in rows
12 inches apart

 

10 yards of solid sod; shred into sprigs or cut into thin 1 inch strips. Plant in rows 12 inches apart.

Bermudagrass
Centipedegrass
St. Augustinegrass
Carpetgrass
Zoysiagrass

Vegetative plugs
Place 2 inch x 2 inch plugs 12 inches apart in rows that are 12 inches apart

 

3 ½ yards solid sod; this yields about 1,000 plugs if cut 2 inches x 2 inches when planted 12 inches x 12 inches.

All grasses, if available

Solid sod

 

112 square yards of sod


*Mix seed with clean masonry sand as described. Use fertilizer spreader for even distribution.

**Quicker coverage will occur if 8 ounces are used.