Thursday, November 28, 2013

SOD Installation: Part One

High Quality St. Augustine picture
from www.sodinstall.com
The process of installing SOD is no easy task even for a small lawn. The weight alone of just 450 square feet (one pallet) of SOD is One Ton (2,000lbs). People across the country install SOD in different ways. I am writing this post to inform you about the way I install SOD. And by the way I personally have installed hundreds of lawns with great success.  I have been installing SOD since I was just a boy. Some of my friends these days still tease me about not being able to play with them because my Father had me digging up a lawn. I will take you step by step on how to install SOD in your lawn. I also have to give credit to Richard L. Duble, author of  "Turfgrasses: Their Management and Use in the Southern Zone". I recommend this book for anyone that wants to learn more about "turf". The book is a bit scientific in detail but is a great resource for your lawn library. 
Step 1.) Your Ugly Lawn Assessment: The first thing to do is look at your lawn. Try to find out why your lawn looks the way it looks. In most cases, the home owner has neglected the lawn for a few years or inherited the mess from a previous owner. Most ugly lawns will either be over run with weeds or just covered with a few patches of grass. And remember a weed is any plant or vegetation that is not wanted. So if you have a St. Augustine lawn and Bermuda is creeping in, that Bermuda grass is a weed. There are other factors that lead to an ugly lawn. I use the term ugly lawn because that's exactly what it is an ugly lawn. 
Other factors:
  •  Contractors love to plant "weed trees" one of these culprits is the Bradford Pear Tree. This tree grows fast and casts deep shade on a lawn that kills or seriously thins out a lawn. The branches on these trees commonly break off or split the more they mature in size. If you have a "weed tree", get rid of it and plant an Oak, Pecan, Ash, Elm, or other non-weed tree.  
  • Drainage problems can keep your grass from growing. If your lawn does not drain well your grass will not grow in that area. You can test your drainage by digging a hole about a foot deep and about six inches wide. Fill the hole with water and keep track of how long it takes to drain. If it takes more than three hours, you may have a drainage problem.
  • Poor Soil  can also keep your grass from growing. There are basically three types of soil you may have, Clay, Sandy and the one you want is Loam. Clay is full of nutrients but drains very slowly. Sandy soil drains quickly but lacks the nutrients. Loam is the perfect mix, good nutrients and good drainage. There is also another quick test to determine your soil type. Grab a handful of dirt and place a tea spoon of it on your mouth, no just kidding! Place a handful of soil on your hand and squeeze tightly and then relax your hand holding the soil in your palm. If the soil quickly crumbles as you open your hand, you have sandy soil. If the the soil stands firm to the touch you have clay. If the soil slowly crumbles when you touch it, you have loam and that's what you want. You can also dig up some soil and place it on a piece of cardboard. If there are worms, this is  good sign of good soil.
  • Not enough water, too much watering can affect your lawns growth. Each lawn is different and so is each type of grass. Typically St. Augustine will require more water than Bermuda or Zoysia. The rule of thumb is about 1" to 2" of water per week. If you have sprinklers you can lay a few tuna cans around the system and run them until the cans fill up with water. This is how much they need per week. You may need to add a little depending on your lawns status. 
  • Using the wrong fertilizer (weed and feed). Some customers that have called me have accidentally killed their lawn. Be sure to read the fine print before spreading fertilizer on any lawn. Check out Scott's guide on Fertilizer.
  • Disease, insects and animals may be killing your lawn. There is a massive amount of information on each of these things so I will write another post about them, click here to see my websites "natural ways" to killing some of these critters. Grubs love to eat roots, so if your lawn is slowly but surely dying and the pattern of the dying grass looks random, you may have grubs. If you can grab the grass leaves and easily pull them up, this may be a sign of the grub worm attack. I recommend using Bayer 24hr Grub Killer

Check out my next post that continues this conversation. You can visit my website for more information (SODInstall.com). You can also fill out the contact form if you need a lawn assessment from me (Dallas, Ft. Worth area only). Or in the form you can indicate that you are out of the service area but would like an assessment through email. If you fill out the form, I will email you and you can send me a picture of your lawn issues and I will do my best to help at no cost to you.
  



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