The Q&A Archives: Failure of Sod

Question: We recently moved into a new home. The back yard had no grass - just dirt. We brought in sod for the whole area. When we put the sod down we noticed that more than half of it did not look as green and healthy as the first half we put in. We spoke to the nursery we bought it from and they said to give it a few days and it would come back up. Unfortunately it never did. The nursery refuses to replace the sod. Is there anything we can do to get it back up again?

Answer: If the sod is really dead, there is very little you can do except replace it. Before you do that, however, I would suggest attempting to figure out why that half of the first batch failed. Assuming the sod was healthy when it arrived, there must be an on-site reason for the problem. Sometimes the soil can be radically different from one part of a yard to another. This is especially true if there was substantial earth moving done during the construction phase.

The most common reason sod fails is that the soil underneath it is so compacted it is impossible for either water or roots to penetrate the surface. Other factors such as soil texture, fertility and pH can have an adverse effect on a new lawn. You might perform some basic soil tests to see if any of these may have contributed to the problem. Your local County Extension office (ph# 516/454-0365) can help you interpret the results and make specific recommendations based on them.

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