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A landscaper who's done some grading work for me had two palettes of "Bermuda Celebration" sod left over and asked me to take it (he'd installed 450 sq. ft. of St. Augustine in the back yard which took off really well).

However, this sod turned out to be quite brown. There is green in it, and white roots were poking through the bottom of each sod when I pulled it.

Question is, a) was I a total sucker in taking this and b) what is a good watering routine (as well as fertilizer) to revive this? Note I'm in Central Texas, between zone 8 and 9.

picture 1 picture 2

  • Sorry, looks like it's dead to me and not likely to recover – kevinsky Jul 22 at 18:00
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Well, on the positive side, bermudagrass is a perennial and celebration is frequently used in dry and hard wearing areas like golf courses.

The sod is transported from farm to customer on palettes on a flat bed open truck frequently with no cover. As the truck is moving, air moves over the bulk sod and desiccates the mass, but much more so the top and sides of the palette bulk. Ideally the sod will be covered by tarps, or be moved in showery weather so any drying is countered by natural irrigation which leaves the top and sides of the sod mass in the same condition as when it was cut. But things get busy at the farm and they want to get the product out the door so sod often travels exposed to hot dry conditions, frequently for long distances.

Likely however the contractor orders enough to discard this layer, and when the delivery arrives the first job is to pull off and set aside the stuff that has dried out and lay the inside good green material first, saving the dry toasty stuff for less visible areas. The toasty layer has been in a sense sacrificed to protect the really good stuff that will please the end customer.

So you helped out the contractor by making use of his discard pile. He is saved the trouble of loading it back up and removing from the site and disposing of it. Knowledge of the situation would help you negotiate a substantial discount on any consideration in your contract, that is, you get it cheap. If not, you did him a favour and he is now obligated, which could come in useful in the future. You have photos, remind him at the appropriate occasion.

Back to the first point. The grass is substantially a perennial mix and hard wearing and known for resistance to drought. You have noted white shoots and there are flecks of green, particularly around the edges of the sod pieces; this indicates you have been irrigating and the water has flowed quickly between the sod pieces. It will look quite a mess for a while but if you can suffer the slings and arrows of your situation and "keep the water to it," shortly the area will patchily fill in and you will forget the decision and remember the learning experience. Hang in there, water in long dry spells, the landscape repairs itself.

  • Thanks. I'm watering 2x/day right now, and I think it will come back. I'm using this post as a bookmark in terms of time, and will post update pictures, but yeah, a lot of H20. As an adjunct question, should I be sparing on mowing to allow the green parts to establish, or aggressively? And should I mow high or low? – Oliver Williams Jul 25 at 10:47
  • The water would be required if the sod was green, too. First mowings could probably be done with a string trimmer just to keep the long leaves in check for tidiness' sake, but leaving as much green leaf as possible to get the roots going. When mostly green start regular mowing high, then as the grass thickens up lower to normal height for your climatic conditions. – Colin Beckingham Jul 25 at 11:09
  • Note that when handling dry-ish sod some of the attached soil can fall off leaving the sod pieces varying in soil thickness with a slightly bumpy surface to the grass. Might want to get a bag or two of regular garden soil and just fill in those places where the sod feels thin so that the final surface looks right. It does not seem like a high traffic surface. – Colin Beckingham Jul 25 at 11:13

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