Grass plugs are becoming a more popular way to fill in bare or damaged spots in a lawn as well as becoming an alternative to installing sod. As described in our previous Sod University blog on What are Grass Plugs and How to Use Them, a grass plug is an individual turf plant that is grown in a tray. Sizes of grass plugs vary, but individual grass plugs generally measure anywhere between 1.5–3 inches in length and width. Planted somewhere between 9–12 inches apart, they will continue to spread and fill in over time, creating a solid ground cover of your preferred grass type. As grass plugs have become one of the most popular products for homeowners, many homeowners have began asking when the best time to plant grass plugs is. It should be noted that the best time to plant grass plugs largely depends on where you live and the climate you live in.
How to Plant Grass Plugs in the Spring
Spring is the best time to install grass plugs because temperatures aren’t exceedingly high yet. It is also a great time for warm season grass plugs because they will have more time to establish before going into winter dormancy. One of the ultimate challenges for grass plugs during their grow-in period is weed pressure. During the spring as temperatures start to rise, you can apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent weeds from germinating. It is also recommended you apply a selective post-emergent herbicide if you are already seeing weeds appear. You should be sure to follow our installation guide, which can be found here.
Here are some key things to be aware of when planting plugs in the spring:
- Make sure there are no more opportunities for a freeze before installing grass plugs.
- Be sure to keep an eye on weather. You will want to make sure that you keep your plugs extra moist to maintain root health—especially if you get an early hot day.
- Water shadier spots less than the sunnier spots to help reduce disease.
- Be sure to fertilize your lawn to promote healthy rooting and establishment. We recommend our Lawnifi® New Lawn Starter Box for proper lawn nutrition.
Spring is also a great time to manage weed pressure because once temperatures are too warm during the summer, herbicides will burn or damage your grass. Pre-emergent herbicides prevent weeds before they appear whereas post-emergent herbicides treat currently existing weeds. A selective herbicide will treat the weeds mentioned on the product label whereas a non-selective herbicide treats any plant it comes in contact with—including your grass.
How to Plant Grass Plugs in the Summer
Summer is probably one of the worst times to plant grass plugs. Although it can be done, you will need to water your grass plugs frequently to keep drought from occurring during the hot temperatures. Watering your plugs excessively, though, creates prime conditions for disease to take over. If you need to plant grass plugs in the summer, be ready to water them very often as a means of maintaining their health. You will want the soil to be damp three to four inches below the surface. Water often to make sure of this. Once again, follow our installation guide here and be sure to water your lawn as often as possible.
Here are some key things to be aware of when laying sod in the summer:
- Keep your grass plugs moist, but do not overwater them—if you do this, they will be susceptible to disease.
- Water your lawn early in the morning, midday and early afternoon to help make sure they do not dry out.
- Taper back watering in the shadier spots since these areas are more prone to fungus and disease pressure.
- Be sure to fertilize your lawn to promote healthy rooting and establishment. We recommend our Lawnifi New Lawn Starter Box for proper lawn nutrition.
How to Plant Grass Plugs in the Fall
Planting grass plugs in the early fall or mid-fall can be done, but it is not the most ideal time. Although temperatures have cooled down from the summer highs, you will begin to enter winter dormancy soon. Your grass plugs will stop spreading during this time. Your grass plugs will still go through a 30 day establishment period, but they will not fill in the space between other grass plugs by this time. You can also possibly encounter a lot of winter weed pressure. Be sure to read our installation guide for detailed instructions on planting.
Here are some key things to aware of when laying sod in the fall:
- Similar to other times of the year, you’ll want to maintain a healthy watering schedule that keeps the sod moist, but not too wet during the first 14 days of fall. As a general rule, keep the soil moist three inches below the surface when establishing.
- Be sure to fertilize your lawn to promote healthy rooting and establishment. We recommend our Lawnifi New Lawn Starter Box for proper lawn nutrition as your grass plugs begin to take root and establish itself before dormancy.
How to Plant Grass Plugs in the Winter
A good number of people, particularly in the south where warm season grasses are grown, believe that planting grass plugs in the winter isn’t possible. People think that either the grass plugs are brown and therefore dead, or that they don’t need to water it—both of those statements are wrong. When planting grass plugs in the winter in the south, the grass can look dormant, but dormancy is just like hibernation—it will be off-color and appear dead, but will regain its color in the spring when temperatures warm up. Similarly to all other seasons, water is very important and you will need to dampen the soil prior to planting the grass plugs and continuously water them to ensure they stay moist. Learn more in our installation guide.
Here are some key things to be aware of when planting grass plugs in the winter:
- Your plugs will not green up until the spring. Do not be concerned about this.
- You will need to continuously water the grass throughout the winter and its dormancy. Cold, dry winds can dry out the roots quickly and cause major issues.
- It is still beneficial to spray Lawnifi’s New Lawn Starter Box on your lawn while it’s in dormancy. It provides nutrients to help keep your new lawn healthy.
The New Lawn Starter Box is designed for newly sodded, seeded or plugged lawns. The box contains three bottles of liquid fertilizer powered by Catalyst TechnologyTM to nano-size the nutrients for efficiency and effectiveness. The two bottles of Grow are for improved soil health and the single bottle of Maintain is designed to feed the lawn. The three bottles work together to establish thick, healthy grass. To learn more about the nutrients new grass needs, read When to Fertilize Newly Installed Sod. After the first 30 days of establishment, continue with regular monthly Lawnifi feedings for optimal results during the active growing seasons with the Lawnifi Complete Program 9 Bottle Annual Fertilizer Subscription. The annual subscription includes three seasonal boxes for spring, summer and fall.
No matter which part of the year you choose to install grass plugs, a few tools can really help you with a successful installation. Check out the 1 inch Auger Bit that will help you drill holes into your during installation. The Soil Moist Granules store water for long periods of time so that you newly planted grass plugs stay hydrated for an extended amount of time—it will also save you time and money with irrigation. Learn more about this in How to Use Soil Moist Granules with Grass Plugs.
Overall, the best time of year to install grass plugs greatly depends on where you live and the climate you live in. If you live in Florida, for example, you can plant grass plugs just about anytime of the year because it stays pretty warm year-round. Generally, the best time to plant grass plugs is in the spring when temperatures are cooler but grass continues to grow into the summer.