Whether you are staring at a sea of dirt around your newly-built home, or have an existing lawn in dire need of renewal, rolled sods are the quickest way to achieve a velvety green expanse of grass.
However, it’s important to time the delivery of your rolled sods carefully, so that they spend the minimum of time on the pallet before being installed.
Rolled sods on a pallet have a limited lifespan, as they will soon start to decompose. This may be as quickly as within 12 hours in hot weather, while in cooler temperatures they may last up to 3 to 5 days in relatively good condition.
No matter what time of the year you install your lawn, it’s best to get the rolled sods off the pallet and onto the ground as soon as possible.
Table of Contents
- What Happens if You Leave Sods on a Pallet too Long?
- Does the Weather Impact Your New Sods?
- How Should You Store Sods if Your Installation is Delayed?
- Should You Water Sods on a Pallet?
- How Long Will Sod Last on Concrete?
- How Long Will Sod Last Rolled Up?
- How to Know if Your Sod is Gone Bad?
- Will Moldy Sod Grow?
- Will Brown Sod Grow?
- Final Thoughts
What Happens if You Leave Sods on a Pallet too Long?
Leaving sods on a pallet for too long can result in a lot of wasted money. Especially in hot weather, the grass will continue to grow as it sits in rolls on the pallet.
This produces large amounts of nitrogen that will start to degrade the sod in as short a time as 12 hours, depending on the time of year.
The temperature of the rolled sods will quickly increase, accelerating the rate of decomposition, especially in the middle of the pile.
In the heat of summer, in less than 24 hours the sods will start to turn yellow, and can brown and die in a matter of a few days.
Does the Weather Impact Your New Sods?
The time of the year has a lot of impact on how long your sod can stay in good condition before being unrolled and installed.
While temperatures above 80°F (27°C) will quickly destroy sods on a pallet, the cooler weather in spring and fall can allow rolled sods to last for 3 to 5 days without suffering serious harm.
It’s best to avoid installing a new lawn in the heat of summer, anyway. The combination of high temperatures and dry conditions will place considerable stress on the grass.
The cooler temperatures and more abundant rains of spring and autumn will allow your new lawn to settle in and establish strong growth.
Still, it’s always best to plan on installing your sods as soon as possible after delivery, no matter what the time of year.
How Should You Store Sods if Your Installation is Delayed?
While you should make every effort to schedule your sod delivery for a time when you can immediately lay it out, sometimes a delay arises that you cannot avoid.
In such a case, you can try to keep the rolled sods in good condition for a few days. Start by placing the pallets out of the sun, as you want them to stay as cool as possible.
If the exposed ends appear dry, water them lightly, but do not try to water anything else.
You may also unload the rolls from the pallet so that the sods on the bottom are not pressed down by the weight of those on top. This will also keep the centre of the pile from overheating and decomposing even faster.
If you do place them in a single layer, do not leave them directly on the ground or concrete, as both those surfaces will pull moisture out of the sod. Instead, lay them atop a plastic tarp.
It’s also a good idea to cover them with a tarp to prevent the sods from drying out on top.
Read Related: How Much Sod Can 1 Person Lay in 1 Day?
Should You Water Sods on a Pallet?
Watering the sods as they sit on the pallet will not help extend their life, with one exception.
You can lightly water the exposed edges if they appear to be drying out. This will keep the entire width of the sods healthy and prevent roots along the edge from dying before you can unroll them.
Otherwise, conserve the moisture in the sods by keeping them out of the hot sun, and by covering them with a tarp to prevent evaporation.
How Long Will Sod Last on Concrete?
Concrete is not a good surface to store rolled sods on, as it is porous and will wick moisture out of the sods. It also tends to hold heat, and you want the rolled sods to stay as cool as possible. Sod may only last 12 hours on concrete if it is hot outside, it can last up to a few days in cooler temperatures.
If you have no alternative but to place them on concrete while waiting to lay them out, place a plastic tarp underneath and over the top to conserve moisture.
How Long Will Sod Last Rolled Up?
Depending on the temperature and the time of year, rolled sod can stay in good condition for as little as 12 hours or as long as 5 days.
In hot summer weather, the sods will quickly start to decompose as they release excess nitrogen, and within 24 hours may no longer be usable.
However, in cooler temperatures in spring and fall, especially when they are kept out of direct sun, rolled sods may last up to 5 days in fairly good shape.
Even then, of course, the sooner you can unroll them and lay them out on the topsoil, the better they will be.
How to Know if Your Sod is Gone Bad?
Your rolled sods will not go from perfect condition to completely bad in one step. There are degrees of degradation in between.
If the sods are left too long on the pallet, they will first start to turn a pale yellow as the nitrogen levels get too high.
As decomposition progresses, the blades will become a deeper yellow and then brown. Your sod may be able to recover even at this stage.
However, once they have turned black, slimy, and smelly, there is no chance that it can be used.
Will Moldy Sod Grow?
You cannot install a lawn using moldy sod. If you have delayed laying out your rolled sods too long, and they have turned black and slimy, the chances that the roots will be able to establish themselves are pretty much done.
Even if by some quirk of fate you managed to install them successfully, you would be setting yourself up for years of fighting fungal infections in your lawn.
Unfortunately, you will simply have to eat the cost of those moldy sods and start again with a fresh order.
Will Brown Sod Grow?
You may still be able to nurse brown sod back to health, although it will take longer to achieve a lush green carpet of grass.
Look for some signs of green amongst the browned blades of grass. Once you’ve rolled out the sods and watered them well, there’s a good chance that the roots will be able to establish themselves and support new, healthy growth.
You will soon know if this is the case; after a few days, gently lift up a corner of a few of the sods and check for the thin white shoots of new roots.
After a week or so, you should see fresh new green blades emerging.
If some spots remain stubbornly brown, overseed them with some fresh grass seed.
Buying rolled sods is the quickest way to establish a new lawn, but it is definitely more expensive than seeding.
Planning and preparation are key to the successful installation of a lawn using rolled sods. A key consideration is timing the order of the pallets of sods so that they can be unrolled promptly upon delivery.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.