What's Up When New Sod Doesn't Match?

Did you lay your pallets of sod and then stand back and wonder, "Does my sod really match?"

Sometimes it's a subtle difference; other times it's such a big difference (as shown in the picture above) that you'll think there's been a delivery mix up. 

If you ordered pallets of the same type of grass, rest assured that you got what you ordered. Most of our sod fields are certified sod fields, meaning third party agents come out to inspect and make sure we're growing pure fields with no other grass varieties contaminating them. That monitoring is there to give you buying confidence.

Let's dig into the maintenance factors and reasons why the same type of sod can look different.

When a Brand New Lawn Doesn't Match

  1. Direction of Unrolling: If you unroll a sod roll in one direction, then unroll the next one in another direction you'll see a difference in color and texture between rolls. It's simply that the grass was flattened in one direction due to being rolled. You can either unroll them all in the same direction (a lot of unnecessary fussing with it) or you can give it time to decompress. The differences will go away after the grass has time to stand up straight.
  2. Mowing Differences: If you laid new sod and two or more pallets looks different from each other, they probably come from different Super-Sod fields and were mowed slightly differently. All you're seeing is an aesthetic difference that will become uniform when you mow them yourself at the same height and frequency.

When New Sod Doesn't Match Existing Sod

Let's talk about when you patch a spot or extend a lawn area with new sod. You will probably notice that even though it is the same type of sod, the new and old grass don't match (yet).

In fact, newly harvested pallet of sod are always going to look different than the grass that's in place. They are never going to match on day 1, but they will soon.

  1. Nutritional Differences: Our fertility program is probably different from yours and that will make our sod a different color of green. Give the new sod time to adjust to your fertilization schedule and you eventually won't see the difference.
  2. Moisture Differences: Moisture level effects leaf texture and can make new sod look a different texture than existing sod. Turfgrass conserves moisture by closing their leaves and curling them up the sides to form tubes. This curling will make the rolls look different until moisture is applied. We can't emphasize this enough: Water new sod as you lay it.
  3. Mowing Differences: If you're patching an existing area of lawn and the new sod looks like a different type, keep in mind that the sod from our farm may be mowed at a different height (often a lower height). When you start mowing them at the same height and frequency, you'll see the differences fade.

What About Different Types of Soil on the Rolls? 

Some of our fields are a mile long and the soil on one end of the field can be different from the other end. There's often not the same soil type all the way through a field. If you've ever looked down at farm fields from an airplane, you'll have seen the differences in soil types manifest in different colors.

The soil attached to sod rolls is negligible and will not make a difference one way or another. Care for your entire lawn with the same watering, fertilization, and mowing routine and once the seams fill in you won't know the difference.


Real World Examples

Mike Vecchio, store manager, answered a customer who was worried because his newly-laid sod looked like a checkerboard. Mike explained, "what you're seeing is the difference in maintenance. The sod is maintained at the farm different to how you maintain your lawn. Once you start to mow it all together, it will blend in and you will not see a difference."

And then we have the picture above showing what appears to be three different types of sod. That concerned customer emailed us on May 7th, so we explained to him the situation. Six weeks later we checked in and he says it's growing in and beginning to blend. He kindly sent us this picture to show you.

new sod does not match after shot-1

Six weeks later the three different "looks" are blending together.

Even Mike Mayak, head of customer service, had a "moment" when laying his new sod. He questioned, "Is it a different type of sod? Is it dead? Why is the dirt different?" He told me, "All of these questions ran through my head, but I remembered that voice in the back of my head telling me that with time, it will all look the same. So, I gave my yard the TLC it needed (fertilizer and water) and gave it time." Here are three pictures from Mike's project.

different soil types on sod

The pallet of sod on the left had darker soil compared to the pallet on the right.

pallets of sod look different but are same type-1

Both pallets are laid, but they look very different. The next picture shows how they filled in.

my sod looks different after pic

Dreams of a family soccer field are now realized! This picture of TifTuf Bermudagrass was taken 1 year after installation pictures taken above.

Don in Roswell, Georgia read this article and sent pictures showing the mismatched patching of his Zoysia sod, then how it grew into a blended, seamless lawn a month later. Don is a regular reader of our tips emails and a loyal Soil³ compost customer, using it to topdress his lawn once a year. He's also on a good fertilizer plan and fertilizes with 16-4-8 twice a year. I mention this to drive home that fact that a fertilizer and compost-topdressing regimen will do wonders for your lawn.

Don Schusters lawn mixmatched before

Don's mismatched lawn. Sometimes even new lawns need patching.

Don Schusters lawn mixmatched 1 month after

Don's mismatched lawn is now matched! He took this picture 1 month later.


Still Wondering?

Are you looking at your new sod and still having concerns? Then double check your invoice to confirm it's the same type, double check the identification flag that was stuck in the pallet of sod, and if you're still really concerned let us know and we'll double check on our end.

zenith pallet with flag

Look for the flag that comes on pallets of sod from Super-Sod. Photo by Hillary Thompson.

Thanks to Ben Copeland, Jr. and Mike Vecchio for contributing pro tips, to Shannon Taylor for providing pictures from her customer, and to Mike Mayak for sending pictures from his backyard makeover. Extra thanks to our regular reader Don in Roswell, Georgia for sending us interesting pictures over the years.

When New Sod Doesnt Match (1)