If you are laying turf this summer don’t forget to protect your investment against sod heating.

What is Sod Heating?

Sod heating tends to happen mainly from May to September and is most likely to happen when temperatures are highest.

summer lawn

A beautiful lawn brings the summer garden to life. If you are laying turf this summer, please take precautions against sod heating.

Sod is, of course, another word for turf. The phenomenon known as Sod heating happens when rolled turves get too hot and start to deteriorate and die before they can be installed. Degrees of sod heating vary from slight yellowing of the leaves to severe (and fatal) burning.

But don’t worry – it can be avoided by taking a few very simple precautions.

Avoiding sod heating

Prepare the ground in advance

It’s the soil preparation that takes the most time when you are laying turf. It’s also quite tiring, so after a few hours of digging, shuffling and raking your energy stores will be depleted.

Better to prepare the soil a day or more in advance of the turf arriving so that there are no delays and you can start laying turf the moment it arrives.

Only order as much turf as you can lay in one day

It’s vital that your turf is laid within 8 hours of delivery – preferably sooner if you can. So it’s no good ordering twice as much turf as you can possibly lay in that time. Either has your turf delivered in 2 or more batches or recruit friends and family to help get that turf down quickly.

Put turf in the shade – but don’t cover it up

When your turf is delivered, don’t leave it out in the sun. Pop the pallet under a gazebo or in the shade of trees or buildings. Please don’t shut it in the garage or shed though, it needs plenty of fresh air.

Don’t ever cover stacked turf with a tarpaulin or sheet to keep it shady – that will just act as a blanket and keep the heat in. Good ventilation is essential.

Split the stack

The smaller the stack of turf, the less of a problem you’ll have with sod heating. The first job when your turf arrives is to break the pallet down into several small stacks. Ideally, place stacks of 5-7 turves all over the area to be laid. It will make the laying process much faster and it will help to avoid sod heating.


Your new turf will need plenty of water – but not while it’s still rolled up. Watering a stack or a roll of turf turns its centre into a mini-sauna. It gets incredibly hot and the heat will kill the grass plants.

watering new turf

If your turf is affected by sod heating

If the grass leaves have started to turn yellow, they will probably recover in a day or so provided that the turf is laid quickly and watered well.

Severe sod heating is distinguished by an unpleasant smell, blackened grass and sometimes mould or slime. If the turf is in this sort of condition it is unlikely to recover.

Caring for turf laid in warm weather

Once your turf has been laid, you MUST pay particular attention to watering until the roots are well established. Water at least once a day. If the weather is very hot, check every few hours that the soil beneath the turves is still damp. You may need to water twice a day but you must never let that turf dry out.

More about nurturing new turf in summer weather

Summer lawn care tips