Starting a lawn with these individual plants is much less expensive than using regular sod, although both sprigs and plugs are rooted pieces of sod.
Sprigs are thin 3- to 6-inch pieces of grass stems or runners without soil. Plugs are 2- to-4-inch chunks of sod, either round or square, with soil around their roots.
Spring is the best time to plant sprigs and plugs. Before planting, prepare the soil well. Till or dig in organic matter and add granular, slow-acting fertilizer. Smooth out the soil with a rake.
The biggest problem you'll face will be weeds. Digging the soil brings weed seeds to the surface -- they'll sprout wherever there is bare soil when they're exposed to sun and moisture. Because there's a lot of bare soil between the sprigs or plugs of grass for quite a while, it's worth the time and effort to deal with the weeds first. Water the prepared soil and allow a week or two for the weeds to sprout. Remove or kill the weeds, then plant the grass, disturbing the soil as little as possible. It's grass knits together into a solid lawn, pull any other weeds you find.
Plugging is an ideal way to repair small sections of lawn that have died. It's also an easy way to revitalize a lawn in stages as time and money allow. The day before planting, mow the surrounding lawn area very short and water the space heavily. Plant the individual plugs 3 to 10 inches apart in a pattern that suits the empty space.
Continued on page 2: Step-by-Step Plug Planting