Of all the plant life that adorns residential and/or business properties, grass is easily the most prevalent. While it is hearty and thrives practically everywhere, grass is not invincible. Thus, certain measures need to be taken to ensure sod achieves its maximum potential while, and after, it is being laid.
Before embarking on such a project, it is always wise to consult a professional.
Proprietor Eric Smilsky sees Kentucky blue grass as the ideal for the conditions in southern Ontario. It is tough enough to withstand the region’s weather extremes. “It can get really hot, it can get really cold, but that doesn’t affect bluegrass. It can make it through dry spells. It’s drought resistant.”
It is vital that sod be laid immediately after delivery. Therefore it is important that the site is properly prepared. The site should be tilled to a depth of six inches and all debris such as rocks, wood and roots be removed.
Soil should be irrigated in advance, ten to fourteen days before the sod installation date to eliminate weeds. Eric also points out that the more maintained a lawn is, the less herbicide is necessary. “If you keep the grass healthy, the weeds won’t have anywhere to go.”
It is recommended that one pound of fertilizer be applied for every 100 square feet.
Level the area with a rake and have the soil about one inch below adjoining driveways and sidewalks. Press the soil to a level surface, fill in any low areas and press it again.
Begin laying the sod along a straight line such as a sidewalk or driveway. Butt the edges of the pieces together tightly, making sure there are no overlaps or gaps. Use a sharp knife to fit in corners, around trees and other obstacles.
Following installation, it is recommended that the site be watered to a depth of eight to ten inches. Water should not be allowed to pool on new sod. Reduce watering if this occurs and avoid watering at night.
If all goes well, it may be safe to mow the lawn after about ten days. Ensure that the mower height is adjusted to take off no more than a third of the grass blade. Be advised that using a lawn rake to remove clippings might pull up loose soil. Use a grass catcher if you can access one.
Finally, stay off the newly sodded area for three weeks to allow good stabilizing. This measure includes keeping children and pets, especially large dogs, off the lawn so that the turf stays even and level.
While the sod shows up at the site lush and green, there is a possibility that it may start to yellow once it’s laid. Grass is hearty enough that it might correct itself if it survives, but corrective measures are required in most cases. More often than not, yellowing is the result of some glitches in the sod’s installation. For example, roots can be exposed and dry out if air pockets occur due to improper installation. Lifting and relaying allows the sod to make better contact with the soil and its roots to take hold.
If the sod is delivered on a particularly hot day, watering schedules may need to be intensified to compensate. Delivery on a hot day or cutting the sod too early can also cause root drying that leads to yellowing. Likewise, insufficient watering once the sod is installed can cause the sod’s grass to yellow because it is too dry. Adjusting the watering schedule and watering earlier in the morning helps to ensure that the sod is sufficiently watered. Short, frequent watering sessions during the day can counteract any evaporation that might otherwise leave the sod too dry.
The amount of time that it takes for sod to recover is dependent upon how well the underlying problem has been addressed and how long the problem existed before it was fixed. If the grass has already started drying out and becoming brown or brittle, revival may not be possible. Sod that has only recently started yellowing, however, can often be saved through proper watering and adjusting the strips as needed.
Eric suggests keeping the sod wet for five to six days after it has been laid.
When all is said and done, it boils down to deploying the proper products, tools, preparation and maintenance. Once that is done, you can join Porter Wagner, and a host of other crooners, and sing about “the green, green grass of home”!
Written By: Dan Pelton | Resources: Smilsky Sod Farms, Tottenham