7 Easy Steps to Start a Lawn with Grass Plugs

Lush green field with a large house in the background


When establishing their lawns, many homeowners are often faced with the decision between affordability and quick establishment. Grass plugs emerge as a practical lawn care solution, bridging the gap between the affordability of grass seeds and the instant gratification of sod.

What are Grass Plugs? 

Grass plugs are essentially individual grass plants, pre-grown and cultivated in specialized containers or grass plug trays. Each plug usually measures 3x3 inches and consists of mature grass blades and a well-established root system, substantially increasing the likelihood of successful growth.

This innovative solution is ultimately used to repair damaged areas or fill bare patches in a lawn. Adding to its economic benefit, you can stagger repairs in stages as time and budget allow. 

Grass plugging is also great if seed is not a feasible option. For example, warm-season grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine are better suited for sod installation than seeding due to their specific growth characteristics.

A woman carrying a SodPods grass plug tray

How to Plant Grass Plugs

Establishing a new lawn starts by preparing your soil to set the optimal growing conditions for the grass plugs.

Test Your Soil

While optional, a soil test looks into your soil's composition, nutrient levels, and pH balance. With these valuable insights, you can make informed decisions about the type of fertilizer to use and amendments to make.

Soil- pH influences the amount of nutrients soluble in water and, therefore, the amount of nutrients available to plants. By balancing pH, you can maximize the nourishment your grass can absorb from the soil. Complete the soil test before applying chemicals like fertilizers and herbicides and installing plugs.

Choose Your Preferred Grass Type

Selecting the right type of grass for your lawn is a thoughtful process that involves evaluating your location, climate, and maintenance requirements. It's also essential to consider factors like shade, foot traffic, and personal aesthetic preferences such as color and texture.

In a warm and humid climate like Florida, planting grass plugs with high heat and drought tolerance is an obvious choice. Warm-season grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine plugs make excellent options for a drought-resistant, low-maintenance lawn. They adapt well to different climates, contributing to a lush, vibrant lawn even with minimal upkeep.

Measure Your Lawn

We recommend planting grass plugs between 9-18 inches apart—the more they are spaced out, the longer they will take to cover your landscape. In prime conditions, plugs placed 18 inches apart are estimated to fill your lawn in 2-4 months. Our SodPods® grass plugs measure 3x3 inches and come in 8-pack trays that cover approximately 18 sq. ft.

So when you're planning to purchase grass plugs, measure your lawn and consider these factors to determine how much surface you need to cover and how many plugs you will need.

Remove Debris and Weeds

Clearing your lawn of any debris, such as a thatch layer—an accumulation of dead stems, leaves, and roots between the grass and soil—and weeds, sets the stage for a clean environment where your newly planted grass plugs can access sunlight, water, air, and nutrients without obstruction or competition.

When you're doing a total lawn overhaul, use a non-selective herbicide to clear the entire lawn, eliminating old grass and weeds. This method ensures that potential diseases or pests affecting your existing turf will not transfer to the new one.

However, if you're only filling bare spots or repairing damaged areas, you can clear weeds by manually removing or using selective post-emergent herbicides. These herbicides specifically target visible weeds in your lawn without harming the desired grass, offering a straightforward solution for spot treatments.

NutriPod grass plug fertilizer

Fertilize Your Soil

Nourishing your soil with fertilizer provides the necessary nutrients to help ease the transition for newly transplanted plugs. This nutrient boost not only supports rapid root development and overall growth but enhances their ability to adapt to the new environment as well. As the plugs settle into the soil, they become more resilient to stress and other potential damage.

Using a slow-release starter fertilizer like NutriPod® offers additional benefits. Because it is designed to gradually release nutrients, it reduces the risks of over-feeding and nutrient run-off while guaranteeing a steady and sustained supply of nutrients for 6-8 weeks. To use NutriPod®, simply drop the pod into each planting hole before transplanting the grass plugs.

Dig Holes and Install the Plugs

Now it's time to dig holes into the ground to plant grass plugs. Each hole should be deep and wide enough to accommodate its root system and just enough that the plug is level with the ground and fits snugly into the soil.

A good tip is to moisten the soil so it's easier to dig. Then, use our SodPods® Power Planter, equipped with an auger bit that attaches to a power tool, to drill holes into the ground.

Maintain Your Lawn

For the first two weeks post-installation, water your grass plugs thoroughly every day to keep the soil moist. Take into account any rainfall during this initial period. As your grass plugs settle into the new soil, adjust your watering schedule to promote further robust root growth and a healthy, thriving lawn.

Dog playing with a water hose in a lawn field

When to Install Grass Plugs

In addition to taking the proper steps for grass plug installation, the timing of when to install grass plugs also plays a pivotal role in the success of your new lawn.

While you can plant grass plugs any time of the year, late spring to early summer emerges as the opportune window for planting grass plugs. It offers optimal growing conditions as the weather is not too hot or too cold. It particularly benefits warm-season grass plugs by allowing enough time to establish roots before going dormant in winter.

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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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