Can you lay sod on top of a dead lawn?

Posted by George Bravos on

The question from a huge amount of home owners about sod installation is can I lay my sod on top of my old dead lawn.
The one clear answer you should be hearing from any professional farmer or landscaper is No! Never in fact and here is why.

Grass needs the proper conditions like any plant for a healthy lawn. When Sod dies it does not completely break down, what you will have left instead is a mixture of sand, silt, clay that is depleted of nutrients along with the dead roots. A new lawn placed on top of this thick man made depleted layer of soil will survive on its current nutrients and while trying to root through this dead space between fresh soil and your ground many roots will either suffer or instead just turn back around to the fresh soil it loved growing on. 

In the past people got away with this because first the sod was local meaning your soil was the same and not manufactured. The second large factor being as you can see lawns are all mounded and not flat like in the past. That’s because people through the years have continually just piled deadline on top of deadline when buying or selling homes. That means there’s not one layer in my experience in tearing out lawns if it’s mounded it’s more like four or five lawns they have just been stacked on top of each other.

A great example of this is moving into a new home in finding that the sprinkler heads are much lower than the lawn area. If your sprinklers are having a problem hitting the center of the lawn because it’s elevated that was not an original plan or design that means that there’s layers and layers of depleted dead soil that have been compacted on each other not the fresh soil you would get from tearing all that out.

We always recommend you cut out as much of that as you can and be sure to Till end topsoil compost mix to an average of at least 1 yard per every 200 ft.². Isabella nutrients should give your lawn a healthy start or giving enough nutrients to establish a deep rooted system.All is well you can roll before the installation as well as watering and rolling the area after.

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  • Hi Jason! George is currently busy right now. But, Yes, we have! Celebration Bermuda is an excellent option for that because it’s an allergen-free variety of Bermuda grass. Celebration Bermudagrass is an ideal grass for all-around uses. Perfect for families with pets, allergies, or children. It’s beautiful and durable. Celebration Bermuda is a hybrid Bermuda grass that perfectly fit your friend’s need, and it is also more on disease resistance and faster recovery from high-impact accidents.

    Lizza L. on
  • I must say that this blog has taught me a lot. George, I owe you a debt of gratitude. You’re incredible! You always discuss a variety of sod and seed-related subjects. My friend wanted to grow Bermuda grass but also wanted to avoid using pesticides and herbicides. Do you have an allergen-free variety of Bermuda grass?

    Jason Wilhoite on
  • I have encountered it in person hundreds of times in my life sad to say. Now having our staff take horticulture cases for grass gives our sod team a way to explain to the homeowner how to best help with their lawn. Thank you Savanna for commenting.

    George Bravos on
  • Thank you Harold I have been doing this my whole life and I have heard so many people try to convince me otherwise only for me to drive by later to see the carnage of the failed bid because the home owner thought they did not need to remove the dying materials. To put it simply for people the old lawn rots under your new lawn and roots will get infected and not root into rot. Always best to just tear out all the old lawn and amend the soil to give the new sod or grass seed the best chance at the deepest roots.

    George Bravos on
  • Thank you! After searching several articles about dead lawn problems, this was by far the most informative I’ve seen. I appreciate the help.

    Savanna Myers on

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