Red Hen Turf Farm - Sod FAQ's

After You’ve Received Your Sod FAQs

What if I order too much sod? Can I return it to you?

Unfortunately, because sod is immediately perishable, we cannot accept returns. On the other hand, we are committed to providing only the freshest sod available, and should you ever have questions or concerns - now or years from now - we’re here to help troubleshoot. We’re easily able to do this remotely by phone, text, and by sharing photos that show the story of what is happening around the affected area.


What do I do with your Red Hen pallets after delivery?

Red Hen does not make a special trip to return to your site to pick pallets up, so the question often arises about how to deal with our custom-made pallets after your sod delivery. Check out THIS ARTICLE for some ideas.


How do I care for my sod?

Keep in mind that sod is a living, perishable plant that we have cut fresh-to-order so that you can transplant it into your yard. To ensure that your new sod transplant successfully, first be sure your area is totally prepared and ready (check out THIS LINK). You must unroll and install the sod the day you receive it and water immediately and thoroughly (check out THIS LINK). Sod is mature grass that, once fully re-established in your yard (which takes about a year), it should be treated just as you would any other lawn. Proper watering, mowing, and fertilizing are the main pillars that will ensure your sod looks beautiful year to year.  Proper thatching and aerating are also good to keep in mind. Purdue Univeristy’s Turfgrass Science Department offers a wealth of free science-based, regional information on all of these topics at


There are a few gaps that have shown up after I laid my sod. What should I do?

If your sod loses too much moisture after installation, gaps can start to appear due to sod shrinkage.  It most often occurs within the first hours after installation. These gaps can easily be avoided if your new sod is kept consistently moist during the first couple weeks.  Sod shrinkage can be anywhere from mild to very noticeable. The good news is that sod will tend to grow in to fill these gaps over time and with correcting your watering practices - especially with Kentucky Bluegrass sod. If you want to speed this up, try sprinkling soil in between the gaps or if the gaps are more severe, you might patch in small pieces of sod. Refer to our Early & Long Term Sod Care Guide or give us a call when in doubt - 574-232-6811 is the number to call.


What if I can’t get all of my sod installed within 24 hours of when I receive it, is it ok to cover it up or water it while it is still rolled up on the pallet?

We would NOT recommend this. Sod is a living, perishable plant, so it needs to be cared for properly. Sod is more perishable in hot humid weather than in either the spring or fall, so the weather should always be considered. What happens is that because the turfgrass sod plants contain a lot of nitrogen, your sod can easily heat up and begin to ferment (or basically COOK) if left rolled up. Covering a pallet and/or watering the sod while rolled up, especially in hot weather, will make the problem worse.

If you absolutely cannot install all of your sod within 24 hours, to help prolong the shelf life of your sod, here are few tips:

  1. When in doubt, give us a call. Cooler temps may mean that we feel ok about laying your sod beyond the general “24 hour rule”
  2. Unroll you sod in another location and water if practical.
  3. Place your sod in the shade.
  4. Break the pallets down by taking off the top half of the rolls. This lets more oxygen to get to the bottom layers.


When can I mow my newly installed sod?

Good question!  You can mow your new sod as soon as it has grown enough that it looks like it needs to be mowed.

The height of the grass should be kept at 2-2 ½”.  For one thing, this helps to avoid the grass from burning in heat.  However, the general rule-of-thumb of “mowing properly” means not to take more than 1/3 of the grass blades off during a mowing. If you cut more than ⅓ of the blade at once, you may shock the plant, especially in hot weather. It’s likely that you will need to mow your new sod before it is completely rooted. We’d recommend use a push mower and being mindful of pivoting during the first couple of weeks. Also, for healthy growth and to prevent fungus issues, it’s always important to keep your mower blade sharp so you the grass blades get a clean cut. This promotes healthy growth and helps to prevent fungus issues.  We also recommend that you leave the grass clippings on the lawn (unless they are so long they smother the grass underneath). Grass clippings are basically FREE FERTILIZER, as they add nutrients and moisture back into the soil as they decompose. For more on mowing, check out THIS LINK from Purdue University’s Turfgrass Department.


HELP! I have dog spots? What’s going on, and what can I do?

For a female dog or immature male dog, you will especially notice burned or discolored spots on your lawn due to urine concentrated in a smaller area since they squat when they urinate. With a mature male dog, it is less likely that you will experience lawn spots because male dogs typically lift their legs and urinate on bushes, poles, and other landmarks (GOOD DOGGY!). Chemically, dog urine is basically a salt solution and contains ammonia (among other things). When a female dog or immature male dog urinates on the lawn, they quite thoroughly cover the grass blades with this salt solution. The salts draw moisture out of the grass, which leaves the spot looking wilted at first, and in a day or so it starts turning brown where the grass has been killed. Then, the grass will tend to green up in a circle around the dead spot because the nitrogen in the urine is taken up by healthy roots (this nitrogen is basically free fertilizer, but not terribly helpful). You’ll notice this more in warmer temperatures, so in the wintertime, it is less likely that your grass will burn.

So, that’s the “what’s going on” part, but what can you do?  If you want to try to minimize the damage, whenever you see a dog urinate on your lawn, the only “magic cure” that is guaranteed to help is to immediately douse the area with water which will wash the salts / nitrogen in the urine off of the grass plants. By diluting the urine with enough water, burn spots will not develop. To take things a step further, you might try to set your sprinkler timer to come on every day for 2-3 minutes to coincide with your dog’s schedule of “watering your lawn” with harmful salts.


YIKES! I am seeing all these seedy looking tops on my lawn. What is going on?

As part of their natural lifecycle, all grasses go to seed at some point during the season. This is how grass reproduces and ensures survival over time. Roughly speaking, both Bluegrass and Fescue grasses tend to go to seed between the middle of May and the 1st of July. Some people ask if they can use the seeds to replant other areas, however, in a lawn situation this process rarely produces a viable seed to grow new plants. Aesthetically, yes, your lawn looks different for a while, but you can “fix it” by mowing a bit more often and by making sure you have a sharp mower blade.


How do I properly feed or fertilize my lawn?

In general, an early spring and early fall fertilization program is recommended. Use reliable, good quality fertilizer and follow the label.  If you want to purchase fertilizer with Red Hen, and receive some free fact-based and regionally specific advice along the way, we’re here for that.  Also, check out our article, “Top 5 Reasons Why Your Fertilizer Isn’t Performing Like You Think It Should” to get you started in the right direction.


What about Lime?

Haha! Yes, what about lime? It’s kind of a running joke around here about how rarely a yard actually needs lime because generations of homeowners have been liming annually for decades and there’s usually plenty in the soil because of this. BUT, the only way to know for sure is by having your soil tested, and in fact, we only recommend using lime if you’ve had a soil analysis show you need it. Looking for a local source for soil testing? Red Hen Turf Farm has soil test kits and we’ll help you interpret the results to apply the information for your own yard’s needs.


What about Grubs? Is my sod guaranteed to be grub-free and what if I see some?

First, let’s address the common misunderstanding that if you’re seeing moles in your yard, there must be a grub problem.  In reality, the main part of a mole’s diet is EARTHWORMS and they eat very few grubs. Every year is different as far as how common spotting grubs might be.  Grubs are rarely a problem in Red Hen’s farm operation. At worst, they may infest a small area in a field. We merely focus harvest on a different area if grubs become an issue. Due to their lifecycle, grubs do not present a long-term problem.  If you spot a few grubs in your sod or yard at any point, most often there’s no need to worry too much - it’s completely natural.  On the other hand, if you spot grubs in your brand new sod, please don’t hesitate to let us know so we can adjust things on our end. 

That said, if you’re considering applying a grub control product to your yard, we’d recommend that you first consider whether it’s necessary.  Almost every yard has grubs.  Most grubs do very little harm. Most experts in the area of insects believe that UNTIL you reach 5-10 grub larvae PER SQUARE FOOT, there are not enough of them in one location to do damage to your lawn.  But, let’s assume you are concerned you have enough grubs to do some damage.

When it comes to choosing the best insecticide product to apply, it may seem there is an endless number of choices that are for sale. It’s easy for homeowners to waste way too much money and time applying the wrong chemicals. Basically, there are two main factors to look at when it comes to choosing a product to kill grubs: (1)  the time of the year you are applying it, and (2) what type of grub you want killed.  To learn more about both of these factors, check out THIS ARTICLE we wrote on our blog.


You touched on moles in the FAQ about Grubs? What if have moles? What can I do?

Besides keeping in mind that moles are after earthworms and not grubs, trapping is the most reliable method of mole control. All the other urban myths you may have heard such as pouring Listerine down the holes or using ultrasonic devices are all just a waste of money. Check out Purdue’s article “Moles, myths, and misconceptions” by CLICKING HERE to go deeper on this topic.


I installed my sod last year, and now it’s springtime. My neighbor’s lawn is so much greener than mine. Is something wrong with my sod?

In winter months, your lawn’s grass typically will turn brown?  This is a normal response to winter conditions — your grass has simply gone into a dormant or resting stage.  Though your grass may look dead, it is alive and is waiting for the air and soil temperatures to rise in late March to early April.  Once this happens, the turf color will begin to green up and start growing again.

Compared to the perennial ryegrasses and fescue grasses that are typical in the average yards in our area, Kentucky bluegrass sod needs MORE time, MORE warmth, MORE sunlight, and MORE nutrients to GREEN-UP in the spring. This is simply a natural result of the genetics of the Kentucky bluegrass sod.  To help speed things along a bit, though, you might consider an early spring application of fertilizer and mowing off the brown tips. 

For more tips about your early spring lawn, check out THIS LINK from our blog.


I installed by sod last year, and now it’s the hottest part of the summer. Is there something I need to know?

Good question!  Newly installed sod takes about a year or a full growing season to be considered fully established, with a fully developed root system.  A healthy, established lawn is more forgiving and durable that a newly laid, still-establishing lawn.   Watering an ESTABLISHING yard versus an ESTABLISHED yard are two different things - and the hotter and dryer it is, the more this will become apparent.  Some general tips to follow when it comes to watering your ESTABLISHED lawn are:

  1. The best time to water is 4am-8am.
  2. The next best time is 8am-noon.
  3. Watering every day, in light/shallow waterings should be avoided and can produce unwanted crabgrass, diseases and other weeds that thrive in that environment.
  4. Deep, infrequent watering is the best for established lawns.
  5. Fertilizing and mowing should also be avoided during extremely hot and dry periods.

Lawns that are still establishing tend to need more water overall – but again, slopes and shade can make a difference.

To dive in deeper on this topic, check out our blog article HERE called, “Irrigation, droughts – and strange weather … HOT, DRY SUMMER TURF TIPS from Red Hen Turf Farm”  and Purdue’s free guide on Irrigation Practices for Homelawns (CLICK HERE)


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