How To Plant Grass Plugs [ Full Guide ]

Planting grass plugs is a popular method for establishing a lush, green lawn. Grass plugs are small, rooted sections of grass that are usually planted a few inches apart and eventually grow together to form a uniform lawn. This technique is preferred for its cost-effectiveness and ability to establish a healthy turf with minimal effort. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the step-by-step process of planting grass plugs, the benefits of this method, choosing the right type of grass plugs, the necessary tools, and preparing the soil to ensure successful growth and development of your grass plugs.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Grass Plugs

  1. Prepare the Soil: Ensure the soil is well-drained, aerated, and free from debris or weeds.
  2. Choose the Right Type of Grass Plugs: Select grass plugs that are suitable for your specific climate and soil conditions.
  3. Determine Plug Spacing: Plan the spacing of the plugs, typically 6-12 inches apart.
  4. Dig Planting Holes: Use a bulb planter or auger to create holes for the plugs, matching the size of the plugs’ root balls.
  5. Plant the Plugs: Place the plugs in the holes and gently tamp the soil around them to ensure good soil-to-root contact.
  6. Water Thoroughly: Water the plugs immediately after planting and ensure they stay consistently moist during the establishment period.
  7. Monitor and Maintain: Regularly monitor the plugs for growth and provide appropriate care, including fertilization and mowing as they grow into a full lawn.

Benefits Of Planting Grass Plugs

Planting grass plugs offers several advantages for lawn establishment and maintenance:

  1. Cost-Effective: Grass plugs are a budget-friendly option compared to sod or seed, making it an economical choice for lawn establishment.
  2. Uniform Growth: When properly spaced and cared for, grass plugs grow together to form a dense, even turf, minimizing bare spots.
  3. Quick Establishment: Grass plugs establish faster than seeding and require less maintenance compared to sodding, allowing for relatively quick lawn development.
  4. Enhanced Varietal Characteristics: Planting specific grass plug varieties allows homeowners to enjoy the unique features and benefits of different grass species, such as shade tolerance, drought resistance, or low maintenance requirements.
  5. Stronger Root Systems: Grass plugs develop robust root systems, contributing to the long-term health and resilience of the lawn.

Choosing The Right Type Of Grass Plugs

Selecting the appropriate grass plugs for your lawn is crucial to ensure successful establishment and long-term health. Consider the following factors when choosing the type of grass plugs:

Climate And Soil Conditions

Different grass species thrive in specific climate and soil conditions. Research the grass species that are best suited to your region’s climate, soil pH, and sunlight exposure. For instance, warm-season grasses like Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass are ideal for southern regions, while cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and fescue varieties are better suited to northern climates.

Lawn Usage

Consider how you plan to use your lawn. If you expect heavy foot traffic or have pets, opt for durable grass varieties like Tall Fescue or Bermuda grass, which can withstand constant use and recover quickly from damage.

Maintenance Preferences

Assess your maintenance preferences and resources. Some grass types require more frequent mowing, fertilization, and watering, while others are low-maintenance. Choose a grass type that aligns with your desired level of lawn care.

Local Recommendations

Consult local gardening centers, extension services, or nurseries for recommendations on the best grass plugs for your specific area. They can provide valuable insights into grass varieties that perform well in your region.

Tools Needed For Planting Grass Plugs

Before embarking on the grass plug planting process, gather the necessary tools and equipment to ensure a smooth and efficient planting experience:

  1. Bulb Planter or Auger: This tool is essential for creating holes in the soil for the grass plugs. A bulb planter with a long handle or a power auger can expedite the hole creation process.

  2. Shovel or Trowel: A sturdy shovel or trowel is required for removing any existing turf, preparing the planting area, and digging larger holes if needed.

  3. Garden Hose or Watering Can: Adequate hydration is crucial for the success of grass plugs. A garden hose with a gentle spray attachment or a watering can will facilitate proper watering of the plugs.

  4. Rake: Use a rake to level the planting area and remove any debris or rocks that may hinder the growth of the grass plugs.

  5. Fertilizer and Compost: Depending on soil conditions, you may need to incorporate fertilizer or compost to improve soil fertility and structure.

  6. Measuring Tape or String: To ensure consistent plug spacing, a measuring tape or string can assist in marking the planting locations.

  7. Wheelbarrow or Garden Cart: If you have a large area to cover, a wheelbarrow or garden cart can be useful for transporting plugs, soil amendments, and tools around the planting site.

Preparing The Soil For Grass Plugs

Proper soil preparation is essential for the successful establishment of grass plugs. Follow these steps to ensure the soil is well-suited for planting:

Assess Soil Quality

Before planting grass plugs, evaluate the quality of the soil. Test the pH level, assess drainage, and ascertain the presence of any compaction or debris that may hinder grass plug growth. Soil test kits are available at gardening centers and can provide valuable insights into your soil composition.

Remove Existing Vegetation

If there is existing grass or vegetation in the planting area, remove it by digging it out with a shovel or using an herbicide specifically designed to kill existing turf. Ensure the area is clear of all debris, rocks, and roots that could impede the growth of the grass plugs.

Improve Soil Structure

If the soil is compacted, amend it with organic matter such as compost or peat moss to enhance its structure and water retention capacity. Incorporate the organic matter into the soil using a rake or garden fork to ensure even distribution.

Adjust Soil Ph

If a soil test reveals an imbalanced pH, adjust it accordingly by adding lime to raise the pH or elemental sulfur to lower it. Follow the recommendations provided by the soil test to achieve the optimal pH level for the selected grass plugs.

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Create Planting Holes

Using a bulb planter or auger, create holes in the soil at the predetermined spacing for the grass plugs. The depth of the holes should match the root ball size of the plugs to ensure proper planting depth.

Plant Grass Plugs

Carefully place the grass plugs into the prepared planting holes, ensuring that the soil level of the plugs matches the surrounding soil. Tamp the soil around the plugs gently to establish good soil-to-root contact.

Water Thoroughly

After planting, water the plugs thoroughly to settle the soil and provide essential moisture for their initial growth. Water consistently to keep the plugs moist during the establishment period, typically over the first few weeks.

Monitor And Maintain

Regularly monitor the progress of the grass plugs, ensuring they are growing and spreading. Implement a fertilization schedule and mow the lawn as the plugs grow into a full lawn, following the specific care guidelines for the selected grass variety.

Planting grass plugs is a rewarding process that can lead to the establishment of a vibrant, healthy lawn. By choosing the right grass plugs, preparing the soil diligently, and providing proper care, you can create a lush, uniform turf that enhances the beauty of your outdoor space. Remember that consistent monitoring and maintenance are key to the long-term success of your grass plugs, so invest time and effort into nurturing your lawn for years of enjoyment. With this comprehensive guide, you are equipped to embark on the journey of planting and nurturing grass plugs to create a stunning, resilient lawn that enhances your outdoor environment.

How To Measure And Mark The Planting Area

Planting grass plugs is a popular method for establishing a new lawn or rejuvenating an existing one. Grass plugs are small sections of sod that contain roots and grass blades. They are typically 2-3 inches in diameter and are planted in evenly spaced rows. Planting grass plugs has several advantages, including faster establishment, better tolerance to drought and foot traffic, and improved overall appearance.

Before you start planting grass plugs, it is necessary to measure and mark the planting area. This step ensures that you have a clear understanding of the space you need to cover and helps you calculate the number of grass plugs you will require. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Measure the length and width of the area using a measuring tape. Multiply these two measurements to determine the total square footage.

  2. Determine the recommended spacing for your grass plugs. This information can usually be found on the packaging of the grass plugs or obtained from the manufacturer or a local nursery. Common spacing recommendations range from 6 to 12 inches apart.

  3. Calculate the total number of grass plugs needed by dividing the total square footage by the recommended spacing. For instance, if your area is 500 square feet and the recommended spacing is 9 inches apart, you would need approximately 600 grass plugs (500 sq. ft. / (9 inches / 12 inches per foot) = 600).

  4. Once you have calculated the number of grass plugs needed, mark the planting area using stakes or flags. Start by marking the corners and then connect them to create a clear outline of the area. This will serve as a visual guide when it comes time to plant the grass plugs.

Techniques For Planting Grass Plugs

Now that you have measured and marked the planting area, it’s time to start planting the grass plugs. Follow these steps for successful planting:

  1. Prepare the soil: Before planting the grass plugs, it is important to prepare the soil properly. Start by removing any existing grass, weeds, or debris from the area. Loosen the soil using a garden rake or a rototiller, ensuring that it is loose and crumbly. This will help the grass plugs establish their roots more easily.

  2. Dig the planting holes: Using a hand trowel or a plugger, dig holes for each grass plug. The hole should be slightly larger than the plug to accommodate the roots. The depth of the hole should be such that the top of the grass plug is level with or slightly above the soil surface. Space the holes according to the recommended spacing determined during measurement.

  3. Insert the grass plugs: Carefully remove each grass plug from its tray or container, ensuring that the roots remain intact. Place the plug into the hole, making sure it sits firmly and upright in the soil. Gently press the soil around the plug to eliminate any air pockets and promote good root-to-soil contact.

  4. Continue planting: Repeat the process of digging holes and inserting grass plugs until the entire area is covered. Take care to maintain consistent spacing between the plugs and ensure that they are aligned properly.

  5. Water the newly planted grass plugs: After planting the grass plugs, thoroughly water the entire area. This will help settle the soil and encourage the roots to make contact with the moist soil. Provide enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 4-6 inches.

Watering The Newly Planted Grass Plugs

Proper watering is crucial for the successful establishment of grass plugs. Here are some guidelines to follow when watering newly planted grass plugs:

  1. Initial Watering: After planting the grass plugs, water the area immediately. This will provide the plugs with the necessary moisture for root development. Use a gentle sprinkler or a soaker hose to ensure even water distribution. Water the area until the soil is thoroughly moistened, but avoid overwatering, as it can lead to soggy soil and root rot.

  2. Watering Frequency: In the first two weeks after planting, water the grass plugs every day to keep the soil consistently moist. After this initial period, gradually reduce the frequency of watering to every 2-3 days.

  3. Watering Depth: When watering, aim for a depth of 4-6 inches. This will encourage the roots to grow deeper and establish a strong foundation. Use a trowel to check the soil moisture depth by digging into the ground near the grass plugs. If it feels dry, water more deeply.

  4. Time of Day: Water the grass plugs early in the morning or late in the afternoon to minimize water loss due to evaporation. Avoid watering in the evening, as prolonged moisture on the grass blades can increase the risk of diseases.

  5. Rainfall Considerations: During periods of heavy rainfall, adjust your watering schedule accordingly. If there has been ample rainfall, you may not need to water as frequently. However, if there is a prolonged dry period, supplemental watering will be necessary.

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Fertilizing Grass Plugs For Healthy Growth

Fertilization is an essential step in promoting healthy growth and establishment of grass plugs. Consider the following recommendations for fertilizing your newly planted grass plugs:

  1. Soil Testing: Before applying fertilizers, it is recommended to conduct a soil test to determine the nutrient levels and pH of the soil. This will help you choose the appropriate fertilizer and application rates.

  2. Starter Fertilizer: Use a starter fertilizer specifically formulated for establishing new lawns. These fertilizers are high in phosphorus, which promotes root development. Follow the instructions on the packaging for the correct application rate.

  3. Application Timing: Apply the starter fertilizer immediately after planting the grass plugs. This will give the plugs an initial nutrient boost to support root growth. Make sure to evenly distribute the fertilizer over the entire area, using a broadcast spreader or a hand spreader.

  4. Slow-Release Fertilizer: After the initial application of starter fertilizer, consider using a slow-release fertilizer to provide a steady supply of nutrients over a longer period. Slow-release fertilizers are often granular and can be applied every 6-8 weeks or as recommended by the manufacturer.

  5. Follow Fertilizer Guidelines: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying fertilizers. Applying too much fertilizer can burn the grass plugs and damage the roots, while applying too little may not provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

Planting grass plugs is an effective method for establishing or rejuvenating a lawn. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure a successful planting process and foster healthy growth for your grass plugs. Remember to measure and mark the planting area, prepare the soil, dig the planting holes, insert the grass plugs, water them adequately, and fertilize for optimal results. With proper care and maintenance, your grass plugs will soon transform into a lush and beautiful lawn.

Caring For Young Grass Plugs

Planting grass plugs is an effective method for establishing a new lawn or repairing bare patches in an existing one. Grass plugs are mature sections of grass sod that are cut into small pieces and planted into prepared soil. This method allows for the quick establishment of a lush and healthy lawn. However, proper planting techniques and consistent care are crucial for successful results.

After planting grass plugs, it is important to provide proper care to ensure their healthy growth. Here are some essential steps to follow:

1. Watering

Water is essential for the establishment of grass plugs. Immediately after planting, water the area thoroughly, allowing the soil to become moist to a depth of at least 6 inches. Watering should be done daily or every other day for the first two weeks, depending on the weather conditions. The goal is to keep the soil consistently moist, but not saturated.

2. Fertilizing

To promote root growth and overall health of the grass plugs, it is recommended to apply a slow-release fertilizer about four weeks after planting. Choose a balanced fertilizer with a ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), such as a 10-10-10 or 14-14-14. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application rates.

3. Mowing

Once the grass plugs have established and started to grow, you can begin mowing. Make sure to set the mower height to a level that allows the grass to maintain a height between 2.5 to 3 inches. Avoid cutting more than one-third of the grass blade’s length at a time to prevent stress on the plants.

4. Avoid Overwatering

While it is important to keep the soil moist during the establishment phase, overwatering can be detrimental to the health of the grass plugs. Excessively wet soil can lead to the development of fungal diseases and shallow root growth. Monitor soil moisture levels and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

5. Gradual Weaning Off Watering

After about 4-6 weeks of consistent watering, you can gradually reduce the frequency of watering. This process, known as weaning off watering, helps the grass roots to grow deeper and become more drought-tolerant. Start by reducing watering to every three days for a couple of weeks, then every four days, and so on, until you are watering once a week or less.

Weed Control For Grass Plugs

Weeds can quickly overtake and compete with grass plugs for resources like water, nutrients, and sunlight. Effective weed control is necessary to maintain a healthy lawn. Here are some strategies to prevent weed growth and control existing weeds:

1. Pre-emergent Herbicides

Before planting grass plugs, applying a pre-emergent herbicide can help prevent weed seeds from germinating. These herbicides create a barrier in the soil that inhibits weed seed growth. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application, ensuring that the herbicide is suitable for the type of grass you are planting.

2. Hand Pulling

Regularly inspect your lawn for any emerging weeds and manually pull them out, especially in the early stages of growth. Be careful not to disturb the grass plugs during the process. Hand pulling is most effective when weeds are small and have not yet established deep root systems.

3. Post-emergent Herbicides

If weeds become an issue despite preventive measures, post-emergent herbicides can be used to target and kill existing weeds. There are selective herbicides that kill broadleaf weeds while being safe for grass plugs, as well as non-selective herbicides that kill all vegetation. Ensure you choose an appropriate herbicide for your specific situation and follow the instructions carefully.

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4. Maintaining A Healthy Lawn

Maintaining a dense and healthy lawn with properly spaced grass plugs helps prevent weed growth by depriving weeds of space to establish. Regular mowing, fertilizing, and watering practices will help promote vigorous grass growth, making it more difficult for weeds to compete.

5. Mulching

Applying a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or straw, around the grass plugs can help suppress weed growth. Mulch acts as a barrier, preventing sunlight from reaching weed seeds and inhibiting their germination. Take care not to cover the grass plugs completely; leave a small gap around them to avoid smothering the grass.

Tips For Maintaining A Lush Lawn With Grass Plugs

Besides proper care and effective weed control, there are several additional tips to ensure your lawn thrives with grass plugs:

1. Aerating

Periodically aerate your lawn to alleviate soil compaction and improve water and nutrient penetration to the grass roots. Aeration can be done using a manual or mechanical aerator, which creates small holes in the ground by removing plugs of soil. This process helps the grass roots to develop deeply, resulting in a stronger and healthier lawn.

2. Overseeding

To improve the density and overall appearance of your lawn, overseeding can be done in combination with grass plugs. Overseeding involves spreading grass seed over the existing lawn, which fills in gaps and helps thicken the turf. Choose a grass seed that is compatible with the grass plugs you have planted to ensure uniformity.

3. Fertilizing Schedule

Following a regular fertilizing schedule is crucial for the sustained health and growth of your grass plugs. Apply a slow-release fertilizer every 6-8 weeks during the active growing seasons, such as spring and fall, to provide the necessary nutrients for lush, green grass. Adjust the fertilizer application rates based on the specific needs of your grass variety.

4. Proper Soil Ph

Grass thrives in specific pH ranges, so it is important to test your soil’s pH and adjust it if necessary. Most grass types prefer a slightly acidic pH between 6 and 7. If the pH is too low or high, soil amendments like lime or sulfur can be used to adjust it. Testing kits and professional soil testing services are available to help determine your soil’s pH level.

5. Avoid Heavy Foot Traffic

Try to minimize heavy foot traffic on your lawn, especially during the establishment phase of the grass plugs. Frequent trampling can dislodge or damage the young plants, impeding their growth and causing bare patches. Establish clear walkways or paths to direct foot traffic away from delicate areas.

Troubleshooting Common Issues With Grass Plugs

Despite your best efforts, certain issues may arise when planting grass plugs. Here are some common problems and their solutions:

1. Uneven Growth

If you notice uneven growth or patches with sparse grass plugs, it may be due to improper spacing during planting. Grass plugs should be spaced approximately 6-12 inches apart, depending on the grass variety. To address this issue, you can plant additional plugs in the bare areas and adjust the spacing accordingly.

2. Disease Or Pest Infestation

Grass plugs can be susceptible to diseases and pest infestations, especially during periods of stress or when the lawn is not properly cared for. Common lawn diseases include fungal infections like brown patch or dollar spot. Pests like grubs or armyworms can also cause damage. Consult with a professional or local extension office to identify the specific issue and recommend appropriate treatments.

3. Brown Or Dead Spots

Brown or dead spots in the lawn may indicate issues such as poor drainage, over-fertilization, or incorrect watering practices. Check the drainage in the affected areas and adjust watering and fertilizing accordingly. If the issue persists, it may be beneficial to consult with a lawn care professional for a thorough analysis and diagnosis.

4. Weeds Overtaking Grass Plugs

If weeds continue to outcompete the grass plugs, despite your efforts, it may be necessary to start over and prepare the soil more thoroughly before replanting. Address any underlying soil issues, such as poor fertility or improper pH levels, and consider using a higher density of grass plugs to prevent weed growth.


Planting grass plugs can be an effective method for establishing a lush and healthy lawn. By following proper planting techniques, providing consistent care, and implementing effective weed control measures, you can enjoy a beautiful and vibrant lawn. Remember to water, fertilize, and mow your lawn appropriately, and address any issues promptly to maintain the health and longevity of your grass plugs. With time and effort, you can achieve a thriving lawn that will be the envy of the neighborhood.


What Are Grass Plugs?

Grass plugs are small sections of sod or fully developed turf that can be planted to fill in bare spots in a lawn or to establish a new lawn.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Grass Plugs?

The best time to plant grass plugs is during the cool seasons of spring and fall when temperatures are mild and there is ample rainfall.

How Should I Prepare The Soil Before Planting Grass Plugs?

The soil should be loosened and amended with compost or fertilizer to provide a nutrient-rich and well-draining environment for the grass plugs.

How Do I Plant The Grass Plugs?

Dig a hole or use a special plug tool to create a space for the plug. Place the plug into the hole, backfill with soil, and lightly tamp the soil around the plug. Water thoroughly.

How Often Should I Water The Grass Plugs?

Water the grass plugs deeply and frequently, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. After the plugs have established, reduce watering to once or twice a week.