Fundamentally, sod is soil that's already growing grass when it is transplanted to establish a smooth turf or grass. Sod is a popular choice when landscaping because it gives immediate results which can be seen. But, because it is a transplant process, sod roots must attach to their new soil to survive. If this attachment does not occur, or if other risk factors are present, the sod will die and the grass or turf will not establish.
There are several reasons sod may die instead of establishing.
A lack of pest control, including insects, animals, and humans. Some types of sod can be easily infested with insects such as grubs. Insect infestation will damage the roots and eat the grass before it can be established. Animals such as pets may urinate on the grass which will damage the sod in patches and prevent smooth growth. Too much foot traffic, especially on newly laid sod, will also create damage and wear and prevent the turf from growing consistently.
Newly laid sod is prone to drying out because it has such a shallow root system. Shallowly planted roots are easily stressed and if they do not get enough water, they will not take root. Once sod is established, the watering frequency can be reduced. In direct contrast, overwatering can also be a problem for sod because it drowns the plants roots. Overwatering sod can be exacerbated by other facts, such as improper drainage, or hard packed soil which won't let the water through.
It's important to remember that newly laid sod does not require fertilizer. If your grass turns a grey-green color, it is being overfertilized. The root system of sod is too shallow to be able to absorb nutrients from fertilizer, it's more important to allow the sod to reach for nutrients in the soil it's establishing in. If too much fertilizer is used, the roots won't absorb the nutrients and the nitrogen leaches into the soil and burns the grass.
A lack of preparation of the ground where installation takes place can also cause the sod to die. If the sod does not have good contact with the soil beneath, the roots won't establish and the sod will struggle. Alternatively, if air pockets form after installation between the roots and the soil, the grass won't receive the water and nutrients via the root system. Heavily compacted soil beneath sod also causes problems. If the soil beneath the sod is too heavily compacted or hard, the water sheets away from the roots rather than soaking into the soil. If you're concerned your sod is dying, get in touch with the team at Landscape Supply, Co. Their expertise is all you need to revive your sod and have your turf looking healthy again.