Should You Install Sprinklers Before Laying Sod?

Jamie Tedder

Watering your lawn is essential for keeping your grass healthy and green. In the past, homeowners primarily used a hose to water their lawns. These days, many opt for the convenience of sprinkler systems.

One of the key advantages of a sprinkler system is the ability to water your lawn at the right time and with the right amount, even when you're away. This not only saves time but also conserves water and contributes to healthy growth by preventing overwatering, which can lead to soil saturation, root rot, and an increased risk of pests, fungi, and diseases.

When to Install Sprinkler Systems for Lawn

Whether you're laying new sod or planting grass plugs, it's crucial to create the optimal environment for your lawn to thrive. One of the steps to do that is to ensure it gets adequate water, particularly during the initial establishment stage. Installing an in-ground, automatic sprinkler system is a smart way to ensure your yard gets the water it needs.

One question that arises, though, is when is the best time to install the sprinklers—before or after installing the sod? The general consensus is to set up sprinklers before laying sod. However, there are also valid reasons for installing sprinklers after the sod is laid.

Sprinkler Installation First

Installing sprinklers before laying sod avoids disturbing the newly installed sod. The digging trenches for pipes and fittings and a hole for the valve box can be messy. It can also disrupt the establishment of the delicate root systems of the new grass, keeping the sod from successfully adapting to its new environment.

By providing regular and consistent hydration, installing sprinklers before sod installation also ensures that your new grass can be watered immediately. This is particularly crucial during the initial stages of new sod, where the soil needs to be consistently moist for it to take root and survive.

Additionally, because sprinkler systems today can be programmed to water the lawn automatically, it takes the manual effort out of the equation. This automation ensures that your lawn receives the right amount of water at the optimal times, even when you're not around. This convenience is particularly appealing to busy homeowners who may be unable to commit to manually watering their lawns regularly. Read here for a brief guide on how long you should water your lawn.

Sod Installation First

Meanwhile, there are a few advantages that justify installing sod before the sprinkler system. For example, it ensures any landscaping work, such as digging or aerating to break up soil compaction, is completed beforehand, avoiding the potential risk of damaging the sprinkler pipes.

Another benefit of installing sod first is it provides a better perspective on where to install sprinkler heads, which is particularly useful if you're working with different grass varieties with varying sunlight and water requirements. This approach allows you to determine the optimal locations for sprinkler heads and ensure adequate coverage for your entire lawn.


Tips for Successful Sod and Sprinkler System Installation

Landscaping can be quite an investment, so making sure your decisions will pay off in the long run is crucial. If you want to avoid damaging your landscaping, you'll most likely want to install a sprinkler system first before laying down new sod.

Understand Your Grass Type

With this approach, you can still ensure optimal irrigation coverage by planning ahead and understanding the different grass types suitable for different areas of your lawn. Determine which grass variety can thrive in full sun exposure and which can tolerate some shade.

Because the layout of your sprinkler heads will determine which areas of your yard receive more water than others, plan accordingly. Adjust the settings of your sprinkler heads to ensure coverage where it is most needed.

Mix and Match with Grass Plugs

Instead of covering the entire lawn with sod, you can mix and match grass varieties using grass plugs. It provides a tailored approach to match the varying conditions in your lawn, such as shade and sunlight exposure, ensuring that each area receives the appropriate variety for optimal growth.

Grass plugs are smaller and generally a cheaper option for establishing a new lawn than full sod. Being mature plants with an established root system, they can also better tolerate less-than-ideal soil and environmental conditions than planting from seed. It means that even in areas where the circumstances are not optimal, the grass plugs have a greater chance of growing into a healthy lawn.

Plan for the Long Term

Once installed, a sprinkler system can be challenging to remove and relocate. It is customized based on your existing landscape, so making changes in the near future can be quite an extensive project. Therefore, planning for the long term, including maintenance, is important to prevent issues and ensure that your sprinklers continue functioning efficiently for years.


Final Tips

If you see yourself wanting a reliable sprinkler system at some point, it's best to install it before laying the sod. This approach can save you from the costly and inconvenient work of digging up your existing grass later on.

Finally, to ensure a healthy and beautiful lawn, take the time to learn more about your sod, its maintenance requirements, and the specific challenges you face with your lawn.

For a wide range of grass sod for sale and more expert tips on sod installation, visit the Bethel Farms website today!