Lawn & Turf

Planting grass plugs from sod – Additional information

Planting grass plugs from sod

Introduction:  Some additional information to Planting grass plugs with sod.  This includes herbicide use, watering, and a few other items.

Watering new plugs

Consider the area that your sprinklers will cover before planting sod or plugs

  • The picture below shows is a nice square planting zone that can be totally covered by one sprinkler 

  • You can set the sprinkler to a timer and not have to touch it again

Sometimes you will have to plug around odd areas of your lawn








  • You don’t have to use drip line irrigation
    • I could have used a sprinkler.  There would just be some over spray into the woods

Weed control 

By Hand

  • If the area you plugged is small and you have the time, you can pull up weeds by hand  
  • Most weeds will pop up during the 1st month after plugging, because you are watering the area so much  
  • At that time the weeds will be small and the soil will be wet so they aren’t too hard to pull up  

Pre-emergent herbicides

  • Pre-emergent herbicides work by preventing weed seeds from germinating
  • Ronstar is the only pre-emergent herbicide that you should use on new plugs
    • Other pre-emergents can prune new roots which isn’t great for new plugs
  • If you apply it shortly before plugging, it does a great job preventing weed seeds from germinating
  • It is a little expensive, makes a big difference

Post-emergent herbicides

  • These work by killing weeds that have already sprouted
  • The herbicide you use depends on the weeds that are growing   
  • I will give you examples of the weeds I commonly see when plugging Zoysia, and the herbicides I use   
    • Crabgrass → Quinclorac
      • Crabgrass is by far the most common weed I deal with.  I keep some Quinclorac with the emulsifier they recommend mixed up in a bottle.  I will usually need to spot spray 2-4 weeks after plugging. Thereafter they will come up less often, because the area is dryer, but I may need to spray some spots once a month.  I have been very impressed with Quinclorac in killing even very established crabgrass.
    •  A multitude of broadleaf weeds including wild Garlic, wild onion, dandelion, clover, and plantains.  → Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec  (2, 4-D + dicamba + mecoprop) 
    • Wild Bermuda → Fusilade II + Turflon Ester
      • Bermuda is a tough weed to kill in zoysia lawns without harming the zoysia.  Fusilade II works the best for this. There is a study that showed that adding Turflon caused less harm to the zoysia than fusilade alone.  So, I combine them.    
    • Sedge weeds → Sedgehammer
  • When plugs are young you can often times spot spray the weed, while missing the plugs 
  • You can visit the following link (and many other sites) for more information on herbicides with particular grasses:

Always read the label on weed killers

  • They are very wordy, but they have important information like…
    • Adding a surfactant for better performance  
    • Not spraying during the heat of the day
    • How long you need to wait before watering 
    • How long you need to wait before mowing
  • Be especially careful to water plugs according to your schedule when you are applying herbicides
    • Water will help your grass bounce back from herbicides  

Don’t stress out too much

  • When you first plant your plugs they will probably look pretty grey and dead for the first few weeks
    • It will probably take a month before they start looking really good
  • I have made plenty of mistakes by not watering enough or by letting weeds grow to where you couldn’t even see plugs
    • When these things happen it usually slows down the plugs from optimal growth but they don’t die
    • Once you get things back under control they can go back to optimal growth

Start by plugging small sections at a time

  • I wouldn’t recommend trying to plug more than 1,000 sq ft in a day
    • Even that can be difficult if you soil is too dry, or it is your first time plugging   
    • There is no harm in starting with maybe 500 sq ft at first, and then doing more when you get the hang of it  

Start by planting a small area of sod

  • One pallet of sod (usually ~450 sq ft) can be used to plug 1,200 sq ft easily 
    • 6 weeks later, it will be ready to plug again
    • This time and thereafter since the sod is more firmly established you can plug closer to 1,600 sq ft.
  • Plugging 1,600 sq ft every 6 weeks, while maintaining watering and weed control is a decent amount of work.  Particularly if you are new to it
    • Once you get the hang of the process it does become a lot easier.  At that point you can always buy more sod if you want to move at a quicker pace   

Sharpening the end of your plugger

  • The end of the plugger comes slightly sharpened from our factory
  • We don’t sharpen it too much or it will likely bend if you hit rocks 
  • You can sharpen it more yourself, but you will usually only see benefits from that if you are plugging through very dense grasses
    • Like Emerald Zoysia for example, or any grass where a thick layer of thatch has developed  
    • It will most likely bend as you plug if you hit rocks, and then you will need to resharpen it
  • To sharpen the end of the plugger you can use various instruments
    • A file
    • Various grinding bits on an electric drill, dremel tool, or pneumatic drill.
    • Bench grinder
    • Belt sander
  • We sharpen the outside diameter of the tube in the factory, but you can sharpen the inside or outside of the tube