A common question that arises for homeowners and landscapers is how big is a piece of sod? Sod, also known as turfgrass or turf, comes in rolls or squares of varying sizes. Understanding the dimensions of a piece of sod is important when planning a lawn installation or replacement project. In this 5000 word article, we will explore the typical size of a piece of sod and factors that influence sod dimensions.
What is Sod?
Sod refers to grass that has been grown and harvested specifically for the purpose of transplanting to establish lawns or repair bare spots. Sod is composed of grass plants rooted into a thin layer of soil, also known as the soil base or turf mat. The sod is cut into strips, rolls, or squares during harvesting for easy transport and installation.
There are several different grass species used for sod production, with cool season grasses like tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass being the most common. Warm season grass sods are also available in certain regions, including Bermuda grass, zoysia grass, St. Augustine grass, and buffalo grass. The type of grass determines the ideal climate conditions and uses for the sod.
Sod provides an instant lawn that avoids the wait time for seed to germinate and establish. It also offers immediate erosion control and aesthetic appeal. However, proper installation and care is required for sod success. Understanding the dimensions of sod pieces allows for planning the quantity required for a project.
Standard Sod Sizes
The most common sizes that sod is harvested and sold in are:
- Squares that measure 16 in x 24 in (2 ft x 2 ft)
- Rolls that are 15 in x 5 ft
- Rolls that are 18 in x 5 ft
These sizes can vary slightly by sod farm and region, but 16 in x 24 in squares and 5 ft long x 15-18 in wide rolls are typical industry standards. Sod size standards exist to simplify planning, transport, installation, and cost calculations.
The 16 in x 24 in sod squares represent pieces that are 2 ft by 2 ft, which offers convenient one square foot modules. In total, each sod square contains 4 square feet of turf grass. Other square sizes may be available in some areas, but the 16″ x 24″ pieces are most common.
Squares are easier to handle, transport, and install compared to rolls, especially for DIY homeowners. The squares can be carried easily and laid in place like tiles to form the lawn area. Pros also often use sod squares for small installations or when repairing patches rather than laying rolls.
Sod rolls offer efficiency for larger installations. The 5 ft long x 15-18 in wide dimensions of the rolls mean less seams to join compared to squares. The thinner profile also allows rolls to be installed slightly faster in most cases.
The 5 foot length accommodates the width of most sod harvester machines. Rolls are easy to roll out and can be trimmed to shape on the ends. Some sod farms use big rolls that measure longer than 5 feet, even up to 100 feet for really large turf projects. But the 5 foot rolls remain the standard size.
Factors Affecting Sod Size
While the sod sizes mentioned above are typical, there can be variations. A few key factors impact the actual size of sod pieces:
Type of Grass
The grass species growing in the sod affects the possible size and thickness. Thicker bladed grass types like St. Augustine limit how thin the slices can be cut, compared to thinner grasses like centipedegrass. Fast growing sod with dense roots and blades also allow for bigger pieces to remain intact.
Soil Base Depth
The depth of the soil stripped and held together by the grass roots is another factor. Sod may be harvested with soil depths ranging from 1/4 inch to 1 inch thick. The deeper the soil base, the heavier and thicker the sod will be.
Specialized sod harvesting machines cut the sod into strips or squares as it is lifted from the field. The blade width and spacing can be adjusted to produce different sizes. Some farms may use non-standard settings that deviate slightly from the 16″ x 24″ or 5′ x 15″ norms.
Time of Year
Sod farm harvesting in different seasons and weather can also impact the size choice. Colder weather harvested sod may be more prone to breaking, so smaller squares may be used. Hot summer sod may need to be thinner to prevent drying out after transport from the farm.
In some cases, a special order may be placed for a specific sod size not offered as part of the farm’s regular product line. Custom sod sizes may include large squares, extra long rolls, or wider rolls for unique projects.
Sq Ft in Each Sod Size
To determine how many square feet are in a piece of sod, simply multiply the length x width dimensions:
16 in x 24 in Sod Squares
16 in x 24 in = 384 sq in
There are 144 sq in in 1 sq ft
So 384 sq in / 144 = 2.67 sq ft per square
*Rounded to the nearest whole = 3 sq ft per 16″ x 24″ square
5 ft x 15 in Sod Rolls
5 ft = 60 in
15 in x 60 in = 900 sq in
900 sq in / 144 = 6.25 sq ft per roll
*Rounded to the nearest whole = 6 sq ft per 5′ x 15″ roll
5 ft x 18 in Sod Rolls
5 ft = 60 in
18 in x 60 in = 1080 sq in
1080 sq in / 144 = 7.5 sq ft per roll
*Rounded to the nearest whole = 8 sq ft per 5′ x 18″ roll
So in summary:
- A 16 in x 24 in sod square contains 3 sq ft
- A 5 ft x 15 in sod roll has 6 sq ft
- A 5 ft x 18 in sod roll contains 8 sq ft
Knowing the square footage per piece allows for calculating how many pieces are required to cover a given lawn or landscaping area.
Sq Ft Calculation Examples
Here are some examples of how sod square footage sizes are used to determine quantities needed:
500 sq ft Lawn Installation
If your project is 500 total sq ft, with 16″x24″ squares that are 3 sq ft each:
500 sq ft needed / 3 sq ft per square = 167 squares
So you would need 167 squares with dimensions of 16 in x 24 in to cover 500 sq ft.
Repairing 25 sq ft Patch
For a 25 sq ft damaged section of lawn, using 5′ x 15″ rolls that contain 6 sq ft per roll:
25 sq ft repair / 6 sq ft per roll = 4 rolls
Four 5 foot long x 15 inch wide rolls would be required to replace a 25 sq ft patch.
Replacing 80 sq ft Lawn Area
If replacing 80 sq ft of lawn with 18″ x 5′ rolls that are 8 sq ft each:
80 sq ft replacement / 8 sq ft per roll = 10 rolls
Ten 5 foot long x 18 inch wide sod rolls would cover the 80 sq ft area.
The square footage per sod piece allows you to plan how many are required for any given total lawn or landscape square footage.
Number of Sod Pieces Per Pallet
Sod is typically transported on pallets after harvesting from the farm. The number of pieces bundled on each pallet can vary based on supplier and sod specifications, but some typical quantities are:
- 500-600 squares per pallet (16 in x 24 in squares)
- 100-120 rolls per pallet (5 ft x 15 in rolls)
- 70-90 rolls per pallet (5 ft x 18 in rolls)
Of course, these numbers are guidelines and may differ. But it provides a ballpark estimate of pieces per pallet. You can use this to help calculate how many pallets you may need for a project based on total sod quantity needed.
Other Sod Size Notes
In addition to the most common sod dimensions already covered, there are a few other size considerations:
Sod can shrink slightly after harvesting, so the dimensions may reduce by up to 2% from the farm to installation. This is usually minimal but allows for a margin of extra pieces to cover the target area.
When installed, sod squares and rolls should be placed tightly with no gaps between pieces. This causes the effective dimensions to increase slightly compared to the harvested sod measurements.
For example 16″ x 24″ squares will finish at approximately 17″ x 25″ when properly installed side-by-side. This finished dimension is good to account for when planning quantities.
The need to offset sod seams between rows can increase material needs by 5-10% compared to only using the square footage calculation. Having extra sod on hand allows for ideal seam placement.
Many pros recommend ordering 5-10% more sod than needed to allow for mistakes, waste, overage, and seam alignment. It is better to end up with extra sod leftover than to run short during installation.
Choosing the Right Sod Size
While sod square and roll sizes are fairly standard, you may want to choose one format over the other for certain projects:
Squares are best for:
- Smaller projects
- DIY installations
- Irregular or curved shapes
- Tight spaces
- Repairing patches
Rolls are ideal for:
- Larger lawn areas
- New installations
- Straight rows
- Open areas
- Pro installations
Consult your sod supplier to confirm the sizing options available. Choosing the optimal size and calculating how many pieces are required ensures you purchase the right amount of sod for your lawn and landscape needs.
The typical size of a piece of sod is:
- 16 in x 24 in squares which is 3 sq ft per square
- 5 ft x 15 in rolls which is 6 sq ft per roll
- 5 ft x 18 in rolls which is 8 sq ft per roll
But sod dimensions can vary slightly based on type of grass, soil depth, harvest methods, season, and special order options. By understanding square footage per piece, you can plan the quantity of sod required for any lawn or landscaping project. Use the sod sq ft sizes and pallet estimates to determine how many pieces and pallets to acquire. And choose either squares or rolls based on the specifics of your sod installation needs.