Dallas Morning News - October 8, 2020
Grass Planting in the Fall
There seems to be some confusion about whether its too late in the season to plant turfgrass. Fear of freeze damage is apparently the question.
Well, if planting sod in the fall was a problem, the golf course superintendents and landscape contractors would be in real trouble since they plant and transplant solid sod year round including through the winter – as long as the ground isn't frozen.
So yes, planting solid sod can be done anytime of the year, but fall is the very best time to plant warm season grasses – St. Augustine, Bermuda and Zoysia as well as cool season grasses – rye, fescue and bluegrass. It is too too late in the season to plant Bermudagrass seed and St. Augustine and Zoysia aren't planted by seed.
Now that we have that straight, let's talk about how to best do the planting.
Before over-seeding with ryegrass, scalp the area and remove the clippings
Remove existing grasses, weeds, debris and surface rocks over 2". Rocks down in the soil are no problem and actually aid positive drainage. Till to a depth of 1" and rake into a smooth grade. Deep rotor-tilling is unnecessary and a waste of money unless the soil is heavily compacted.
Compost and other organic amendments should be put on top of newly planted sod
Adding a thin layer of compost ¼ – ½" is ok to do but it’s really really better to wait and apply the compost and other amendments (lavas sand, Azomite and whole ground cornmeal) on top of the sod after planting. The addition of topsoil or sand isn't needed.
It's a little late in October but ryegrass seed can be planted as a winter over seeding crop now, but I don’t do it. It's too much trouble. If you decide to, scalp the turf area and catch the clippings in this one case. After spreading the seed at about 3 - 5 lbs. per 1000 sq ft., thoroughly soak the ground, then lightly water the seeded area at least twice a day. Fertilize with organic fertilizer sometime around the first mowing. Continue light watering until the grass has solidly covered.
Spot sodding is not my favorite way to go because it is too slow to establish, but can be done by planting 4" × 4" (or larger) squares countersunk to be flush with the existing grade, 12" to 18" on apart.
Newly planted sod should be rolled after planting to remove air pockets
For solid sod or spot sod planting, organic fertilizer should be applied immediately after planting at the rate of 10 - 15 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. Solid sod blocks should be laid joint to joint after thoroughly wetting the top and bottom of each sod piece. After planting, the sod should be tamped down by using a roller full of water. This helps smooth out and level the sod but more importantly removes air pockets that result in yellow spots. Small areas can be tamped by foot.
Mow your new sod whenever it needs it.