Increase The Odds For Sod November 2, 2018 By Bob Vavrek, regional director, Central Region

Don't be the first kid on the block to winterize the irrigation system when late-season projects require sod.  

Late-season renovation projects usually require sod because establishing turf from seed before winter is not an option for many northern courses. So long as the ground is not frozen, sod can be installed well into November with a good chance of surviving winter if it does not experience moisture stress.

However, the trend at many courses is to winterize their irrigation systems earlier and earlier every year. This means that late-season projects must rely on residual soil moisture or rainfall to keep sod adequately hydrated. Unfortunately, the odds aren't good that Mother Nature will supply timely rainfall for fresh sod on a bunker bank or new tee surface. Remember, the sod is likely to lose additional water from wind desiccation or sublimation throughout the winter unless there is consistent snow cover.

Improve the odds of sod survival – despite the inconvenience – by postponing irrigation winterization for as long as possible. Also plan for an early spring irrigation startup. Postponing irrigation shutdown is far less inconvenient than having to recharge an already winterized system to water wilting sod only to shut it down once again. In a pinch, a small project can be irrigated using a portable water tank or sprayer, but big projects will likely need big drinks of water.


Central Region Agronomists:

Bob Vavrek, regional director –

John Daniels, agronomist –

Zach Nicoludis, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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