4 Beginner Mistakes to Avoid When Planting Grass Plugs


Using grass plugs instead of traditional grass seeding techniques can significantly boost your chances of cultivating a lush, healthy lawn in a fraction of the time. Whether starting fresh or rejuvenating an existing lawn, grass plugs provide various benefits, including faster growth, a more uniform appearance, and heightened resistance to environmental stress. However, planting grass plugs has its challenges and a learning curve. It demands attention to detail and proper maintenance to ensure successful growth.

Lawn care can be challenging, particularly for beginners. Timing, preparation, techniques, and post-maintenance are all critical factors in the success of your lawn. Avoiding common beginner mistakes and learning what to do instead can set you up for success as you plant grass plugs.

Mistake 1: Poor Soil Preparation

Poor or inadequate soil preparation is one of the most common beginner mistakes when planting grass plugs. While grass plugs consist of mature grass with a deep root system, giving them a head start in the establishment stage, their success hinges largely on preparing the ground before planting. This preparation includes removing damaged grass and weeds that could hinder their ability to root effectively in the new environment.

Although optional, a soil test helps determine the pH and nutrient levels, allowing you to make necessary adjustments such as fertilization or applying amendments. Additionally, dethatching and aerating may be necessary to remove thatch buildup—which prevents water, air, and nutrient penetration into the soil—and relieve soil compaction, creating an optimal environment for healthy growth.

Mistake 2: Selecting the Wrong Grass Type

Different grasses exhibit varying characteristics. Even among warm-season grasses, there are key differences to consider. For example, Bermuda grass plugs are known for their excellent heat and drought tolerance and resistance to heavy foot traffic. On the other hand, St. Augustine grass is considered the most shade-tolerant warm-season grass, followed by Zoysia grass.

Understanding the benefits and limitations of different grass types allows you to make an informed decision when selecting the right grass for your lawn. Factors like sun exposure, shade conditions, and foot traffic should all be considered. One advantage of using grass plugs is the flexibility to mix different grass varieties, catering to the diverse conditions across your lawn.


Mistake 3: Watering Too Much or Not Enough

Watering is crucial to lawn maintenance, particularly during the establishment stage, when keeping the soil moist is necessary to aid in successful rooting. However, getting the right balance is key, as overwatering and underwatering can equally damage your lawn. Overwatering can lead to waterlogging and suffocating the roots, while underwatering can dehydrate the plants, preventing the grass plugs from adapting to their new environment.

To ensure proper and adequate moisture, water immediately after installation to facilitate better contact between the plugs and the soil. Keep the soil moist for the first 10-14 days without waterlogging it, aiming for a depth of three to four inches below the surface. Additionally, adjust your watering based on the weather, watering more on particularly hot, dry days and less on cool, wet weather.

Mistake 4: Mowing Too Soon

Mowing too soon after grass plugging is another common mistake that can damage your new grass. Despite having mature roots, grass plugs need time to root into their new environment before they can withstand mowing. If you mow too soon, you risk pulling up the grass plugs, which can hinder their establishment process and result in patchy or uneven growth.

Wait until the grass plugs have firmly rooted into the soil to avoid this risk, which usually takes at least 2-3 weeks but can vary based on factors like grass type, soil conditions, and weather. You'll know your new grass is ready to be mowed when it shows signs of new growth. When mowing for the first time, set your mower blades to the highest recommended height for your grass type to avoid scalping. For most warm-season grasses, it is between 2 to 2.5 inches. Adhere to the one-third rule—never remove more than one-third of the grass blade length at a time.


Wrap Up

Maintaining your lawn can be challenging without preparation. Familiarizing yourself with common grass-plugging mistakes can help you avoid trial and error, saving you from unnecessary stress and costs.

Additionally, investing in basic tools can make the process easier and more efficient. The SodPods® Power Planter, for example, is a handy grass plug tool that allows you to dig uniform holes. It attaches to most cordless drills and features an ergonomic design that ensures convenient use. Besides digging holes for grass plugs, it can also function as a core aerator for aerating your lawn and obtaining soil samples for testing. For best results, we recommend nourishing your SodPods® with the NutriPod® grass fertilizer, formulated to accelerate growth up to two times faster.

These products are available as bundles at the SodPods® website. Visit us today to shop!


Jamie Tedder

Jamie surrently serve as Vice President on the board for Turfgrass Producers of Florida. He currently oversees the production of all grasses throughout all farms in Florida at Bethel Farms. He is actively working with top grass breeders, researchers, producers and end users from public and private institutions around the country to stay up to date on current industry developments. Being a University of Florida graduate, he has applied that knowledge to over 22 years of experience growing spectacular grass!

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