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Planting with Sprigs

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

Planting with sprigs (or sprigging) is common with warm-season grasses such as St. Augustine, Zoysia, Hybrid Bermuda, and Centipede grass. Sprigs are simply the the grass stem and roots (commonly referred to as stolons or runners) of the grass. Sprigging is an option for people who don't want to lay sod and/or where the particular grass seeds desired are not available. Sprigs are commonly produced or purchased in two different manners. The first way is to simply tear apart sod and remove the individual springs from the sod. The second (and easier) way is to purchase sprigs by the bushel from a mail order or grass growing company. Just make sure that the springs are keep moist, and out of direct sunlight. Click here to find a sprig supplier near you!

Planting your lawn by sprigs can have advantages and disadvantages to other methods such as laying sod, seeding, etc.

Advantages of sprigging

  1. Springing is usually less expensive then sodding, plugging, and hydroseeding your lawn.
  2. By picking out individual springs, you can help avoid any unwanted weeds, grasses, etc. that may be introduced to your lawn.
  3. Like seeding, sprigging can help create a deep and solid root system.

Disadvantages of sprigging

  1. Depending on the size of your lawn, sprigging can be very time consuming to plant and maintain.
  2. Like seeding, sprigging should be done just prior to your grass's prime growing season and usually takes a good deal of time to fully establish and grow.
  3. Sprigs should be shipped, handled, and stored only in moist conditions and out of sunlight. If you are ordering springs, try to have them shipped to you overnight to help prevent them from drying-out.
  4. Results take time and special care is needed to prevent heavy water drainage from planted area.
  5. Daily watering is required for up to four weeks with 2-3 10 minute light waterings needed each day.
  6. You may have to keep your neighbor's pet rover from wandering into your sprig bed and disturbing the growth.
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Once you have created your lawn plan and graded and prepared your soil, you are now ready to pick-out the grass sprigs for your new lawn. It is recommended before you begin that you carefully read the section on "Getting to Know Your Lawn" so you can better determine what type of grass you want to grow. Click here for more on grass types.

When shopping for springs, it's good to know before hand how much you will need. Most grasses require around 5-10 bushels of sprigs per 1,000 square feet. If you are sticking to minimum amounts, Bermuda can be planted with as little as 5 bushels per 1,000 square feet. And Zoysia, Centipede, and St. Augustine with as little as 6 bushels per 1,000 square feet. Just remember the the more springs you grow, the faster your lawn should fill-out.

Planting with Sprigs

There are two basic ways to plant sprigs: planting in rows and broadcast spreading. Once your grading is done and your soil is amended, then it's time to plant.

Planting in Rows

  1. Take a hoe and dig rows around 1-2 inches deep. Place each spring into the rows with the roots facing down and the growth facing upward. Space each sprig around 3-6 inches apart. Remember, the closer the sprigs, the faster your lawn will fill in. Some people even use a notched stick to help press the spring into the soil.
  2. Once you complete a row, fill it in with the displaced soil so around 1/3 of the top of the sprig is exposed to sunlight. Obviously, the exposed portion should only be the growing blade portion of the sprig.
  3. Lawn Roller
    Lawn Roller
  4. Once each row is completed, apply a starter fertilizer to the soil surface that is high in phosphorus such as a mixture of 1-2-1 and take a half-filled (with water) lawn roller to help press-down the soil. Click here for more on fertilizing.

Broadcast Spreading

  1. Broadcast spreading can be done by taking springs and distributing them on the soil surface at a rate of 5-10 bushels per 1,000 square feet. Remember, the more springs you spread per 1,000 square feet, the fast your lawn should fill-in.
  2. Once you have spread your springs,some people rent a stolon disk that when rolled over the sprigs, will help push them into the ground. Others will simply use a notched stick to help press the sprigs into the soil. Click here for a stolon disk rental store near you!
  3. Whether or not you used a stolon disk roller, your next step is tocover the sprigs and ground with a thin layer of top-soil or Humus about 1/4-1/2 inches thick.
  4. Apply a starter fertilizer to the soil surface that is high in phosphorus such as a mixture of 1-2-1 and take a half-filled (with water) lawn roller to help press-down the soil. Make sure when choosing a starter fertilizer that it does not contain any weed control agents for they can stun the growth of your grass. Click here for more on fertilizing.

Caring for your newly planted lawn

  1. Watering your lawn properly for the next 3-4 weeks will determine if you have succeeded.If you let your lawn dry-out during this critical time, the sprigs may die and you might have to start all over again. Just remember that you should lightly spray your lawn 2-3 times a day to keep the lawn moist and growing. Be careful not to apply too much water at once. Any pooling and/or washing away of soil and sprigs can create uneven growth and results. You can let sections of your sprig bed dry on the surface but any more then 3/4 dry should indicate that it's time to water again. Click here for more on watering.
  2. Protect your lawn from people and animals that might disturb its growth. If you need to, use a string and/or fence to protect these areas until grown.
  3. Do not attempt to mow your lawn until it grows in excess of 1/3 of its suggested mowing height. Click here to learn more about mowing your new lawn.
  4. Remember, sprigs are pieces of "creeping" grass and will eventually fill-in any open spots between each sprig by spreading-out their stolons and runners until each area is covered. Warm-season grasses are vigorous grasses and like to grow upward and outward -- so be patient!

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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