Warm season grasses lose their color and go into a dormant state after several frosts in the fall. Root growth stops when the soil temperature is at approximately 47 degrees Fahrenheit, and does not start again until the soil warms up.Because well established turf areas are often killed or severely damaged by extreme cold, neither we or any other reputable sod grower guarantee that our sod will survive the winter. Moisture is a key element to successfully bringing your “unrooted” sod through a cold winter. Nevertheless, we annually ship many truckloads of sod during the fall and winter months which is installed in areas as cold or colder than Asheville, North Carolina. We rarely see any problems, and most of the sod survives about as well as sod being installed during warm weather. The advantages to laying sod sod during the fall and winter months are: 1. Produces a finished appearance. 2. Reduces mud, dust and weeds. 3. Helps control erosion and protects walks, drives and the base of buildings. 4. Reduces mud and dirt tracked onto the carpets and other floor finishes. However, care must be taken to assure that the grass will live through the winter and break dormancy or “wake up” and begin growing in the spring. Research has shown that several factors are critical to the success of dormant sod installation. These include: 1. Proper soil preparation, including incorporating a “Starter” fertilizer (5:5:15) into the soil. A loose seedbed is very important especially since several months are likely to pass before before the roots begin to grow. 2. Good sod to soil contact. Rolling or tamping is helpful to insure that the sod is in firm contact with the soil to reduce voids and air spaces which can allow the roots to dry out. 3. Water management. DORMANT SOD NEEDS WATER TOO! A common misconception is that because the grass is brown it does not need water. This is not true, but because of more frequent rainfall and a lower evaporation rate the need for supplemental irrigation is usually far less in the winter. But one needs to know that cold drying winds can cause desiccation. It is very important that the sod is checked by pulling up the ends and edges to determine that there is adequate moisture on the back of the sod pad as well as in the surface soil underneath.
Remember, even though the grass blades are brown and appear dead, it is still a living plant which must be nurtured and cared for.