Plug In Your Lawn: How to Plant Grass Plugs in Eight Simple Steps

Most of us in the Mid-Atlantic States have long been ready for spring. Mother Nature dumped storm after storm on us this winter and continued her shenanigans into spring. I’m determined to ignore her and go about pretending that spring is progressing as usual.

Zoysia 3This determination (obsession) led me to try to harvest a batch of compost that wasn’t quite ready last week. This week I planted a tray of grass plugs in the lawn. Grass plugs are about the size of a pear. They are used to fill in bare spots, plant a new patch of lawn, or to commingle in an existing lawn. Unlike composting, I have done this successfully many times before.

I like to use Zoysia grass plugs. Zoysia can grow in U.S. Zones 5-11. It is a creeping variety of grass that will spread slowly across the lawn. People tend to either love or hate Zoysia. It is loved because it is hearty, low-maintenance, doesn’t turn burn in the summer, and it chokes out weeds as it spreads. Zoysia haters are turned off by the way that it turns brown from winter to mid-spring, it can be thick and difficult to mow, and it can choke out other grasses as it spreads.

The below steps aren’t specific to Zoysia grass. You can follow them for any type of plug.

Zoysia 2What you need:

• Grass plugs of your choice
• Sod plugger or bulb planter
• Garden hose
• Bucket (helpful, but not necessary)

What to do:

1. Make sure that it is the right time of year. Plant grass plugs in the fall, well before the first frost or in the spring after the last frost. Since plugs can be costly and I’m not in a rush, I order a tray of fifty each spring and each fall. I buy my plugs online since the garden centers in my area do not carry Zoysia. A tray of fifty tends to cost anywhere from $40 – $60.

2. Mow the lawn. If you are planting the plugs in bare soil, you can skip this step. There’s no need to mow the dirt.

3. Water the area where you intend to plant the plugs to soften the ground. You can also plant the plugs after it has rained (or during, if you’re feeling adventurous). Just make sure that the ground is soft and damp or it will be like trying to bore holes in concrete.

4. Dig the holes. I do this with a sod plugger. The plugger takes plugs of sod or soil from the existing area, leaving behind a hole for the new plug. To use it, hold the handles, place the bottom of the plugger on the ground, step down on the foot plate, twist, and pull up. I dig the holes in a grid six to twelve inches apart. The plugger holds about twelve plugs stacked up inside of it. Once it is full, I turn it over and empty it into a bucket. I save these to break them up and add them to my compost bin later.

Zoysia 45. Place a plug in each of the holes that you made in Step 4. Then step on each one to push it down. They should sit at a depth that is even with the rest of the lawn.

6. Water the lawn. You get to skip this step if you’re doing this in the rain. (Now go clean up and put on some dry clothes.)

7. Water the lawn every day for the next several weeks. This can vary depending on the conditions in your area. You should insure that the plugs have taken hold and started growing before turning things over to Mother Nature. Water in the morning when the lawn can absorb more water. Any excess will evaporate throughout the day so that there will not be too much left at night. This can lead to disease and fungus.

8. Enjoy the fruits (I mean grasses) of your labor!