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How to Prep Soil to Lay Floratam Sod in Central Florida

By Joyce Starr ; Updated September 21, 2017
Floratam is a cultivar of St. Augustine grass.

Floratam is a cultivar of St. Augustine (Stenotaphrum secundatum) grass. It is the most used cultivar of St. Augustine grass in central Florida, as well as the entire state. The coarsely textured grass grows vigorously and is deep green in color. Central Florida gardeners should use Floratam only in areas receiving at least six hours of daily sunlight. Less tolerant to cold than other cultivars, Floratam lawns will take a bit longer to green up after very cool winters. Soil preparation for laying Floratam sod is the same as that for other varieties of St. Augustine grass.

Remove weeds, grasses and other vegetation from the planting site. Use a liquid, non-selective herbicide and spray it over the area early on a sunny day. Select an herbicide that does not affect the soil conditions in the long term. Turn off any water to the area. Wait to spray when weather conditions in central Florida predict a rain-free week.

Wait four to five days for the sprayed vegetation to turn brown and completely die. Remove it from the planting area. Water the soil thoroughly every day for two weeks to wash the herbicide from the area.

Rake the area, clearing it of debris such as rocks, concrete, branches and other material. If left in place they will inhibit the sod’s roots from making complete contact with the soil.

Apply a two- to three-inch layer of topsoil or compost over the existing soil, filling in low areas. Rake the area level, working the topsoil or compost into the existing soil to a depth of approximately one inch. Water the area thoroughly. Central Florida soil is basic sand and the extra nutrients will help in the Floratam’s root development.

Water the area thoroughly right before you begin the process of laying the sod upon the soil. The Floratam will adjust to the planting site better if laid on moist soil, and weather conditions in central Florida can be dry and hot.

Mark areas of the soil that are sod-free, such as around borders, trees, flowerbeds, walkways and other structures, with a gardening spray paint. This will help you keep the correct placement when laying the Floratam upon the ground.


Things You Will Need

  • Rake
  • Non-selective herbicide
  • Water
  • Topsoil
  • Compost
  • Gardening spray paint


  • Floratam is a warm-season grass that is hardy and relatively resistant to chinch bugs.
  • Mow Floratam at a height of three and a half to four inches.


  • Do not use atrazine-based herbicides to control weeds in Floratam when temperatures in central Florida are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, as this can damage or kill the Floratam.

About the Author


For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.