Landscaping in America

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Sod and Sod Installation

Sod is grass that has already been planted by seed on a farm and then harvested by slicing a very thin layer of topsoil and then either rolled of stacked and sent directly to the installation site. It should be installed as soon as possible. If you must hold the sod a few days before installing, store it in a single layer in a shaded spot. Moisten it often so it doesn't dry out.

Sod Installation

Preparing for sod installation

  1. The area to be sodded should be prepped by breaking up and loosening the soil. Using a rake, level the area and remove all debris. Note: To allow for the thickness of the sod, soil level should be 3/4" below curbs, walks, and drives.

  2. Regardless of the time of year you plant the sod, spread a complete fertilizer over the soil at the rate of application recommended by the fertilizer manufacturer for spring and fall feeding before installing sod.

  3. Using a rake, work the fertilizer into the soil. A complete fertilizer contains the three important grass food elements, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (potash). Fertilizers lacking any of these elements are not complete. Read the analysis on the package before purchasing. For example: 10-10-10 and 10-6-4 are complete fertilizers.

  4. Should the weather be exceptionally hot and the soil dry, it is wise to moisten the soil slightly before laying the sod.

    Sod Installation

  5. When laying the sod, make sure that all edges are butted firmly together and the corners are flush. Overlapping edges will cause uneven turf and make rooting difficult. When the sod is laid, it may appear to have different colors. You shouldn't be alarmed at this as the color will vary slightly because of how the sod was stacked and stored prior to installation. In a few days of regular watering, the color should even out.
    Installed Sod Day 1

  6. Start watering IMMEDIATELY after the sod is laid. For the first 7 10 days, keep a close eye on your turf. Give it just enough water to keep it from drying out. After that, apply an inch of water every 7 10 days.

    To measure an 1" of water coming from a sprinkler, place a coffee can on the lawn in the midst of the sprinkler. A good watering once per week is usually better for your lawn than light daily watering. Once your lawn is established it is generally better to water in the morning hours.

  7. By about the 10th day, allow the sod to dry out enough to mow it. Make sure your mower is in good mechanical condition with a sharp blade. Set your mower on the highest setting and mow the lawn very carefully. The frequency in which you will have to mow your lawn depends on weather conditions.
    The following advice may be helpful: Mow the lawn before the clippings are longer than 1". In the spring and fall, mowing may have to be done twice a week due to rapid growth. Mowing heights should be 2" — 2-1/2" in spring and fall and 2-1/2" — 3" during the summer months, this of course depends on the variety of grass..

  8. Vigorously core cultivate the sod as soon as it has knitted to the soil (about 2 months). Core cultivation will remove cores of sod and soil and deposit them on the surface. Core cultivation should be done in the spring and fall every year.

  9. Following initial fertilization, wait 6 weeks and fertilize again with a complete fertilizer. Repeat every 6 weeks for the remainder of the growing season. Next year, begin the cycle in late May or early June.

  10. Weed and crabgrass control chemicals should not be used in the first year. The use of weed and crabgrass control chemicals should only be considered in extreme situations and then only as a spot treatment. Before applying any chemicals, read and follow all label instructions.

Is a sod lawn less work?

A professional laid sod lawn needs no special care except for initial watering because it is a healthy, mature lawn when installed, whereas a sprigged or seeded lawn requires years of nurturing to reach maturity.

Sod is grown under expert supervision from top quality certified sod seed. After it has been installed, just water, mow and fertilize your sod lawn as needed and it will remain a healthy, green carpet of grass, requiring very little maintenance.

Post-Harvest Care

Post-harvest care is crucial since sod is a perishable crop. Sod must be lifted and laid within 24 hours and is usually sold within a 150 mile radius of the production fields.