When it comes to lawn rejuvenation, few things have as much impact as sod. It’s like a re-set button for your landscape! What may once have been a sparse, patchy, weedy excuse for grass can become a velvety green carpet overnight. But successful sodding does take some planning, effort and care.
A Good Foundation
The same way building a sound home requires a proper foundation, this is also true for sod. The soil upon which your sod will be placed should be tested for pH levels (sod thrives in a slightly acidic soil, around 6 – 7.5). Additionally, soil prep for sod includes loosening the soil to a depth of 6 inches or more and removing debris such as rocks. Also, working in about 2-3 inches of organic matter provides nutrients and helps soil aeration plus water absorption and retention.
A Different Level
The next step is raking the soil to make sure it’s level. Also, ensure the soil is about an inch below paved areas such as sidewalks, driveways or patios, as well as things like water sprinkler heads. The raking also loosens up soil particles, which will help new grass roots to develop and take hold. Soil needs to be moist before laying sod, so the ground should be well watered from 24-48 hours before placing sod.
Laying down sod starts with rolling it out along a straight edge such as a driveway or sidewalk. The pieces are staggered (picture how bricks are laid) and care is taken to smooth out any wrinkles, ensure seams are snug against each other (but not overlapping) and that there’s a good contact between the sod and the soil with no air pockets. Any small pieces of sod should be tucked into the center of the lawn with all their edges touching other sod pieces to promote them to bind together. Using small pieces of sod along edges such as walkways or patios increases their risk of drying out, shrinking up and dying.
And We’re Rolling Some More
Once the sod is smoothly laid out and seams are tight (filled in with some topsoil to ensure no air pockets) a lawn roller is used to ensure the sod has excellent contact with the soil beneath it. This is key to ensuring good root formation and establishment. To give roots the environment they need to securely knit into the soil, avoid food traffic (including children and pets) for the first three weeks while the lawn begins to set.
Once the sod is placed and rolled, it needs to be watered thoroughly, daily, for the first week every day it doesn’t rain. If water begins to puddle on top, the amount of water needs to be reduced. On week two, watering is reduced to every other day. By tapering off watering a bit like this, deeper root growth is encouraged, which is better for the turf. By week three, twice a week watering should be fine, and by week four, an inch of water per week via watering or rainfall should be sufficient.
Just a Little Off the Top
The first mowing of your sod should be when your grass is at least 3” tall and no sooner than 10 days after the sod was placed. A riding mower is too heavy for tender young sod, so stick to a walk-behind. Use a bag to catch clippings since the grass is too immature to let clippings lie. Sharp mower blades ensure grass is cleanly cut, not torn, and use the 1/3 rule when cutting: don’t trim more than 1/3 of the length of the grass when mowing. You can gradually mow grass down a bit more as it becomes more established.
Once established, a regular turf maintenance schedule of mowing, fertilizing and pest/disease control will keep your lawn healthy, lush, green and gorgeous for years to come.
Call us at Farmside Landscape & Design. We have an entire team dedicated to turf development and care. We’ll determine the best sod to use for your specific landscape needs (sun/shade) plus develop a maintenance schedule to keep your lawn healthy and green.