How to Grow a Lawn from Plugs

One of the ways to establish and grow a new lawn is through plugs. These are small pieces of sod that contain mostly warm-season grass varieties that may otherwise have difficulty growing in other forms, such as grass seed. 

Installing plugs are often easier to do than sodding or seeding a lawn. They are best planted in the spring when the soil is actively growing under plentiful sun and moisture.

Preparing the Soil

Getting the soil ready is one of the most important steps in successfully installing grass plugs. Not having a well-prepared soil could lead to ineffective plugs or stunted growth of grass.

The first step is to grade the soil. An ideal grade of soil for plugs is sloping down one foot in height for every 50 feet in length. Slopes should be away from any buildings. 

Next, rake an inch of compost into the areas where you are inserting the plugs. Then, test the pH. If it falls below 6.0, add lime. If it’s higher than 7.5, add aluminum sulfate to bring it back to neutral.

Planting the Plugs 

Start by digging holes across the soil with a garden trowel or plugger tool. Try to dig 6 to 12 inches apart so the grass has enough room to grow and the roots have plenty of space to set. One way to ensure this is to create a checker pattern across the area. Place cords across the lawn so that you can clearly visualize the equal spacing between each plug.

Then, moisten the soil by adding water and fertilizer. It should be moist enough to adjust to the plugs, but firm enough to keep it in place and support the roots.

Next, plant the plugs into the soil and tap it down. Use soil that was scooped out to set plugs firmly in place.

After the plugs are set, cover the holes and make sure they’re all at ground level. This ensures even growth across the lawn. Roll over the entire area lightly as a way to double check. 

Post-Planting Care

For follow-up maintenance, keep the area consistently moist for at least one to two weeks following the installation. This helps the roots establish and the soil to adjust. It may take a few weeks for the grass to entirely cover the lawn. In the meantime, all foot traffic should be abstained to allow the grass to root.

Watering should also be done regularly throughout the week or at least twice a day. If you find any weeds, hand-pull instead of using spot spray. Do not apply a pre-emergent herbicide, as this may stunt grass growth.

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