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What is Sod?

Citrablue St Augustine Sod Pallet Close Up

If you’re interested in a new lawn or enjoy learning about everything that goes into lawn and landscaping, you’ve come to the right place. Sod University is filled with educational content, interactive tools and expert insights on all things lawn care. Be sure to subscribe to our free, weekly newsletter if you haven’t already. Today we answer the question, “what is sod grass?” and what all goes into sodding a new lawn.

What is sod?

There are a few different ways to plant grass in your home landscape. This includes planting grass seed, installing grass plugs or installing sod. Depending on your location, sod will come in the form of slabs, mini rolls or large rolls. 

In all three forms, sod is grass held together with a small amount of soil underneath for the root system to hold onto until transitioned to a permanent location.

Mini hand rolls

Mini hand rolls have also been gaining popularity in recent years. Mini hand rolls are usually 40 x 18 inches and cover five sq. ft. each. You will find them mostly in northern cool season markets, however you can occasionally see bermuda grass, a warm season grass, installed in mini hand rolls. Learn more about the differences between warm and cool season grass here

Large hand rolls

In the northern cool season markets, most sod is sold in large rolls that measure 60 x 24 inches or 80 x 18 inches. Tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass are the most common types of grasses sold as both mini hand rolls and large hand rolls.

Slabs

In contrast to cool season markets, most sod in the South comes in the form of rectangular shaped slabs that are then stacked on top of each other to form a pallet. Each rectangle slab usually measures 16 x 24 inches and covers 2.66 sq. ft. Most pallet sizes are commonly sold in ranges between 400, 450 or 500 sq. ft. in size. In the southern United States, these grass types include bermuda, zoysia, St. Augustine and centipede. 

Where does sod come from?

All forms of sod come from a sod farm at one point or another. Sod farms grow turf until it is ready to be harvested and distributed to its final location. Sod farms are located in rural places all over the world. In fact, there are about 1,465 sod farms in the U.S. alone totaling 339,451 acres. Learn more about the harvesting process here and check out the video below of a sod harvester harvesting turfgrass. 

Researchers and turfgrass breeders are constantly working on developing new turfgrass cultivars with improved characteristics. Some of these characteristics include drought tolerance, low maintenance, shade tolerance and more. Learn about some of the research that goes into our varieties here at Sod Solutions here.

What are the different types of sod?

In the southern United States, grass types that can be installed as sod include bermuda, zoysia, St. Augustine and centipede. In northern parts of the country, sod types typically include tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass. 

Our blog on How to Choose the Right Type of Sod goes into detail about many of the different sod varieties.

Where is sod used?

Sod can be found all over the world. Applications can include home lawns, commercial landscapes, professional sports fields, golf courses and more. 


Sod is often used because of its visual aesthetic and the many environmental benefits it has. For example, it can be found on slopes to help prevent soil erosion, or around natural bodies of water to purify the rainwater that comes in and then moves into rivers and lakes.

How is sod installed?

There are seven key steps when it comes to installing sod in a residential lawn application.

  1. Testing the Soil
  2. Choosing the grass type you want to install
  3. Measuring the area and determining how much sod you need
  4. Killing and removing any old sod
  5. Preparing the soil and leveling the landscape
  6. Installing the new sod
  7. And finally, watering and fertilizing it.

Take a look at our sod installation video below or refer to our Sod Installation Guide for more information.

How is sod removed?

Removing sod can be difficult after the grass has rooted. However, sod cutters make this process a lot easier so that you can avoid back-breaking work with a shovel. 

With either method, it’s a lot easier to remove sod that’s dead. Start by applying a non-selective herbicide to the grass you want to remove 10–14 days before sod installation takes place. 

You may need to wait another 3–4 days to make sure the area is dying quick enough. Once the grass is dead, you can begin removing it. 

Sod cutters, a sod remover tool, remove the grass and a thin layer of dirt underneath so that when you go to lay the new sod, it is flat and even with other parts of your lawn. 

If you don’t remove the thin layer of dirt underneath and once you go to plant the new sod, the sod will be laid on top of the dirt you didn’t remove. The new grass will not be level with pre-existing parts of your lawn. Learn more about sod cutters and how to use them here.

Man Using Sod Cutter On Lawn
Where can I find sod near me?

Sod is sold all over the world. You can find sod closest to your location by using our sod installer locator. After selecting the below button, simply select your state from the drop down menu and take a look at your options. Each option may offer different types of sod because certain cultivars grow better in specific geographical locations.

We’ve previously discussed the differences between warm season and cool season sod. So if you’re located in Maryland, you’ll more than likely need a cool season grass that can live in that area such as ryegrass, fescue or bluegrass. 

On the other hand, if you live in Texas, you will more than likely need a bermuda sod, zoysia sod or St. Augustine sod that can endure warmer temperatures. 

Other common terms for “sod”

Sod is also commonly referred to as “turf”, “turfgrass”, “turf grass” or “grass”. Many wonder “what is turf?”. Oftentimes when people use the word “turf”, they think artificial turf. However, turf, turfgrass and turf grass are commonly used in the professional sports and golf industry to describe natural grass. For example, the Sports Field Managers Association (SFMA) was known as Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) at one point, which focused on managing turfgrass in professional sports venues.

Now that you have a better idea of what sod is and how it differs from other installation methods, we hope you can make a more educated decision on the different types of sod you want at home. 

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