Why too Much Rain on Sod is a Bad Combination

If you’re wanting to revitalize a wrecked lawn, sod can be a great ally. Rather than waiting weeks for grass seed to germinate and grow, sod provides you with instant grass so that you can focus on other aspects of your landscape renovation. While sod has many benefits, one potential drawback is its vulnerability to heavy rain. Understanding the risks that heavy rain presents to sod will help you mitigate these risks so that you can have a successful landscaping project.

How Sod Gets to Your Lawn

Understanding just how sod goes from seed to your front lawn helps shed light on why it can be fragile. Sod is grown on sod farms by planting high-quality grass seed in well-groomed soil. The grass seed germinates quickly in these perfect growing conditions and grows into thick, beautiful grass. When the grass reaches a certain height, the farmers use a sod remover to cut strips of the sod in the soil before rolling them and sending them to your local home improvement store. Since the grass grows quickly on a sod farm, the grass often grows in height more quickly than the roots can develop. With just a thin strip of soil to support these roots, many problems can happen if you’re not careful.

Soil Erosion

For new sod to grow well, you need to loosen the soil you’re planting it in. This allows the roots of the new grass to grow more deeply than they could in compacted soil. Unfortunately, when the soil is loose, erosion becomes a real risk. When heavy rains fall on loose soil, the water will begin to carve out large divots in the soil. Then, as the water runs through these small divots, they will grow in size until they take up much of your yard. Losing soil like this will make your new yard exceptionally uneven, meaning you’ll need to go back and fill in the holes before the sod starts to become established.

Nutrient Depletion

Another problem with losing soil to erosion is that you lose many of the nutrients in the soil that the sod requires for solid growth. Even if you don’t lose soil, there’s still a good chance that you’ll lose nutrients, especially if you introduce those nutrients in the form of fertilizer. Since the grass in sod is young and is also going through a stressful transplant, proper nutrients are essential to avoid losing your lawn. Plus, if fertilizer runs off your soil, it could lead to excess algae growth in nearby streams and ponds.

wet sod

Lack of Rooting

Healthy sod is sod with a robust root system. During heavy rains, though, the sod could float above the dirt where it’s planted, especially if you’ve only recently laid down the sod. When sod floats, it will likely change locations, meaning any root germination that has already taken place will be destroyed. This could be enough to kill the young grass, leaving you with anything but the green lawn that you desire. In addition, if you experience extremely heavy rains, the sod could float far from its original location to the point that you have to re-install your entire lawn once the water recedes.

Mud Accumulation

When you plant a new lawn, Foothills Landscaping & Irrigation recommends that you don’t place anything on the lawn until it is fully rooted in the existing soil. This is because anything that’s on the new grass, even for a short time, can send the grass’s growth into a tailspin due to light deprivation. During a heavy storm, rainwater could bring large quantities of mud to your lawn due to soil erosion. If you can’t get the mud off of the sod before it dries, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll lose at least some of the grass. Added sod stress comes from the fact that while you’re removing the mud, you’ll have to repeatedly walk on the sod, bending and breaking the blades of grass in the process.

Improving Drainage

Despite all the potential challenges of planting new sod, there are some simple precautions you can take to avoid wasting your investment. First, ensure that you improve your yard’s drainage as you install the sod. One great device to use for this is a French drain. These drains work with the natural slope of your yard to ensure that water doesn’t have a chance to collect in locations where it could cause harm. While this won’t entirely eliminate the erosion risk, it can help keep your soil from becoming completely saturated, which is when erosion is most likely to occur.

Watching the Weather

Ultimately, proper sod planting is all about timing. When you decide to plant sod, carefully watch the weather forecast so that you can plant at a time when it has recently rained but no heavy rain is predicted in the next several days. This ensures that you can plant in soft, fertile soil without worrying about a deluge ruining your new lawn. While you should try to avoid heavy rains, it’s good if there are a few light rain showers in the days following installation. This will help keep your sod healthy and ensure it does well in its new environment.

Finding Success

Growing a new yard from seed or sod can be hard work. When you put in the effort, though, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful, lush lawn that you’ll be proud to show off to your family and friends. Once you get past the initial growth stage, you’ll find that the worries become fewer because you worked hard to give your grass a solid start. Then, you can sit back and admire the fruits of your labor.