Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Can I plant SOD in the winter in Dallas, Texas: Yes, you can. Si se puede!

I get this question all the time from customers and even friends, "Can you plant SOD in the winter time?" My answer is always, "Yes." Well, for those who live in the "Southern Zone". The United States is divided up into "zones". Dallas, Texas falls into this zone. Basically, we have very warm summers and our winters are warm too, well according to my friend in North Dakota. It rarely gets below freezing. When it does freeze in Dallas, look out! Run to your nearest Kroger and buy milk, eggs and bread. Planting SOD in the winter does sound a bit off, one would think that planting is done in the spring. For the most part, that would be correct. But, we are in Texas. And as we all know everything in Texas is Big and warm. I threw in the warm.

Billions of dollars are made every year off of millions of acres of SOD. People need their SOD. People love a nice green lawn. Those who can pay for it, will most likely hire someone to do it. And that someone is us SODinstall.com. Enough of the ads. Furthermore, SOD farms produce SOD all year long, this means the demand for SOD still exists in the fall and winter seasons in Texas. The requests for SOD installation definitely slows down when Old Man Winter comes to Big D.

We plant SOD in December, January and February because the Texas winters are warm compared to the upper states. When we plant SOD, the roots are protected by the grass plants and soil. Great SOD comes with at least three inches of soil and lush grass leaf blades. In the winter, the SOD may be a little brown, but that's okay. It will green up in the spring. Even if an ice storm hits, or if it snows, the newly planted SOD will more than likely survive. I would say a 95% chance. Of course there are no guarantees when it comes to SOD growth. SOD is a produce product and cannot be guaranteed to grow, even though we are 99% sure it will take every time. It is usually lack of proper maintenance that does the grass in.

If it does freeze and we have just planted SOD, no worries. Be sure to keep your lawn wet. Yes, wet. The SOD needs plenty of water. Ice will form around the roots, protecting them. Just keep your lawn watered for at least 12 to 14 days straight, soaking it every time. Use common sense too. If water runs into the street and it is freezing, you may create a slick spot on the road. If you have to, wait till the freeze is over and begin to water, or water when the temp rises in the afternoon.

I hope this has cleared up the question about planting SOD in the winter in Dallas, Texas. The answer is yes, and please call or click today!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dallas Freezes Over, Damages Trees: The importance of Tree Trimming

Trimming your trees is an important part of lawn care. Recently in Dallas, Texas we had an "ice storm" of sorts. Many people stayed home due to the slick streets. There were a number of auto accidents reported. Driving to Kroger for some eggs and milk, I noticed many tree limbs had fallen from the accumulation of ice. I noticed that all these trees had one thing in common, they looked neglected. Most of them had "suckers" all around their main branches. It's pretty easy to spot a tree that has been serviced withing a year or two. Some trees like Bradford Pears that grow quickly are very susceptible to branches splitting and breaking even without ice. I consider these trees "junk" trees or "builder" trees. That is another post. If you trim your trees at least once a year or once every two years, your tree will be healthier and stronger to withstand moments of stress and disease. If you need your trees trimmed or serviced, you can visit my website and fill out the request form for a free estimate.

Dallas Ice Storm Freezes Lawns :It's all in the Roots

Frozen Lawn
No matter how well you took care of your lawn this summer season, your lawn is now frozen. Many lawns will survive this wintry mix but some will not. Dallas has not had this long of a cold spell in a while. The longer the cold stays in the twenty's and low thirty's, the more lawns will tragically be killed off. Warm season grass is called warm season for a reason, they hate the cold. A few years ago when we got a late winter blast, we replaced about one-hundred lawns damaged by the ice. If you do maintain your lawn, the chances of root survival are better. Let me explain. There are many factors that lead to a healthy lawn: 

Watering, fertilizing, sunlight exposure, aeration, soil conditions, herbicides, nitrogen, carbohydrates, and the "oxygen diffusion rate". Paying attention to these factors will go a long way to a  vigorous and deep root system. Feeding and watering your lawn properly will also insure thick turf. Prepare your lawn for days like this in Dallas. When your lawn is stressed it always looks to it's roots for help. I will be writing another post elaborating on the importance of maintaining your lawn to ensure deep healthy roots. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

SOD Installation Companies that Don't use a Measuring Device

I showed up thirty minutes early to a SOD installation estimate. To my surprise, there was  talking to my customer on the lawn. I figured out that they may have called another company to give them an estimate. That was okay with me; a look at the competition is always a good thing. It is always good to see what the other guy is doing. You can  learn a thing or two about the competition. I waited patiently in my car listening to one of my favorite bands, CCR. As the song "Proud Mary" was starting to play, I noticed the other SOD guy walking around the lawn in a straight line, moving from one corner to the next. Before the song was over, my competition had sped off. I gathered my things- measuring wheel, check, business cards, check, ID card, check, tablet, check. I approached the customer and asked her what happened to the other guy. She replied-that he basically walked around her yard then handed her a piece of paper. She showed me the paper. It had an astronomical number that blew my mind. It was followed by, "Have a nice day."

Of course, I introduced myself and handed her my business card. She also said that he had just arrived. I figured he was there about 5 minutes, give or take one. I asked the customer if he had explained what type of SOD she should get because the lawn was blanketed in shade. She said, "Yes, he said that Bermuda would be the best." I almost fainted. I told her that I would measure first then explain the process. She said, "Well, he measured with his feet." I said, "No, Ma'am, we use tape or the orange wheel I bought from Home Depot."

Once I measured, I explained to her that I could give her a discount because she only had patches of grass, and it would be easier to till. Also, I let her know her four Live Oak trees needed to be trimmed. From the looks of it, it had to be at least five years since they were serviced. She told me she was on a budget. The best SOD to be planted was St. Augustine Raleigh. I chose Raleigh because it is the most affordable St. Augustine compared to Palmetto and would do well in the shade. I calculated my measurements. She needed two-hundred and fifty square feet of SOD, about five pallets. Soil amendments were not needed. The soil was a nice loam, perfect for root growth. The trees provided plenty of vegetation to enrich the soil. I tested for earth worms, there were plenty squirming about.

We landed the job. The customer appreciated the time we spent with her explaining the SOD installation process. We also had a detailed invoice that broke everything down: Materials, Delivery, Labor, Tax.

If you called someone out to your house for a SOD quote and they are measuring with their feet and eyes, do not panic. Click here.

How to Choose a Local Business or Contractor for your Home or Landscaping Services

Choosing a company to do anything at your home or business can be a little tricky sometimes. The first thing people do is go online and Google whatever they are looking for. For SOD installation, you may enter "SOD Installation in Dallas" and you end up with a huge list of companies. The first thing to know is a thing called the "Organic" side of Google. That is the non-advertising side of Google or the natural side of Google. The top and sides will be paid advertisements from companies who pay Google to be there. The middle is what you want to focus on because those companies got there for a good reason. They earned it.
 Don't get me wrong, Google's Adsense program works great if you have a budget for it. Many small businesses simply do not have the cash flow for it. I do not want to delve into SEO practices but I want you to know what to look for when using Google to find a SOD company.
You will also end up reading company reviews from places like Kudzu and even Google. Be aware that reviews can be inaccurate and unfair to the company the person is reviewing. There are growing problems with companies making fake reviews about their competitors. Here is a recent Blog Post about such practices. Do not let a few negative reviews discourage you from calling on that company. It is hard to verify the source of the review. Ask them yourself about the review you found online. Most companies resolve any issues they might have had with the customer. Think about where you work. Have you had any customers that were unsatisfied? The answer is probably yes. Most business will make mistakes and most businesses correct their mistakes or errors to satisfy that customer. The bottom line is find out for yourself, look at their "estimate process".
An Estimate Process is basically how the company reacts to your request. Whether it's by phone, email or a website form. A good sign of a good SOD company will be a quick return call or e-mail (not an automated e-mail, those are nice but not personal). Also note that an Estimate Process can be applied to any company that offers you any service. The Estimate Process is made up of 9 basic elements:

Monday, December 2, 2013

SOD Installation: Part Deux

Step 2.) To DIY or Not? 

 That definitely should be the question. Here are some serious questions you should ask yourself:
  1. Am I capable of lifting 25 to 50lbs for at least 4 hours (or more depending on the size of your lawn) on a constant basis using your back, arms and knees?
  2. Do you have all the proper tools and can I properly use them? 
  3. What is my level of experience installing SOD? 
  4. What is my experience using a gas powered tiller? 
  5. Do I have a reliable source for SOD? 
  6. Can I tell the difference between "good" SOD and "bad sod"?
  7. Am I going to need a soil amendment?
Warning:   If you answered most of the questions with a "No" I would advise you get help from someone who has at least some experience or click here on our website to get a free estimate for your SOD project. You can seriously injure yourself, others and your own property with a tiller. Most tillers are unforgiving and can be "wild" if not handled correctly. Home Depot Rents tillers, I recommend you rent the Mid-Tine tiller. The bigger one will run away on you if you are not careful. I will get into tillers later. 

If you have decided NOT to DIY, click on our website for a free estimate. If you decide to get several estimates, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. One of the answers we get from some customers is, "Well the other company is charging half of what you estimated." I usually answer using a set of standards we use when estimating a SOD installation: (90% of the time the other company has just given them a final estimate with no specifics.)
  • The company will actually come by your home or business and not just give a an estimate over the phone. We do not give estimates over the phone. Anyone who does should only give you a ball park or at least give you a minimum installation charge, ours is $250.00. 
  • The SOD type will be on the estimate.
  • The SOD amount in square yards or square feet will be in the estimate.
  • The estimator will measure the lawn with a measuring device not just "eye ball" it. If they are not measuring your lawn with a measuring device, forget about it! The estimate will most likely be off. 
  • The best type of SOD will be recommended. If your lawn has lots of shade and that company wants to install a Bermuda type SOD, something is very wrong.
  •  The Labor, Materials and Delivery will be shown on the SOD. Trust me, they will charge for delivery because each Pallet of SOD weighs a ton, literally. 

Step 2.) Tool Check 
      You are going to need the proper tools to get this thing done. Here is a list of tools to get a basic SOD job done:

  • Friends, relatives, kids (any HELP you can get!)
  • Weed Eater
  • Lawn Mower
  • Blower
  • Shovels
  • Pick
  • Utility Knife
  • Wheel Barrow
  • Leather Gloves
  • Eye Protection
  • Ear Plugs
  • Leaf Rake
  • Bow Rake
  • 36" Landscaping Rake
  • Hand Trowel
  • Measuring Tape
  • Water Hose
  • Orange Flags (if you have sprinklers)
  • Mid-Tine or Rear Tine Tiller
  • 250lb SOD Roller 
Step 3.) Measure Your Lawn: 
Measure your lawn using a tape measure or measuring wheel. Split your lawn up into squares and rectangles. Multiply length x Width. To estimate the square footage of a triangle first you must measure the base and the height in feet. Multiply these two figures together and then divide by two. Once you have all your measurements add up the total square feet and divide by 9. Let's say your total square feet is 1000 square feet. Divide by nine and you get total square yards. We use square yards because that's the standard when ordering SOD. Rule of thumb is that most SOD companies in Texas sell SOD by pallets that equal to 450 square feet or 50 square yards. So back to our 1000sq. Ft., divide by 9 and get 111.11 square yards. Just round that up to 125 square yards. It's always a good thing to order a little extra, trust me. The cutting of SOD is not always the same, so you will sometimes get a little more or a little less. 

Step 4.) Order SOD
When ordering your SOD be sure to let the delivery guy know exactly where you want the SOD placed (driveway, back alley etc.). Order at least 2 to 5 days ahead of time. 

Step 5.) Flag Sprinklers
Marking your sprinklers with orange flags is a must. Have someone turn each zone on. As each sprinkler head is activated, place a flag beside the head. You can also go ahead and dig a 3" circle around each one with hand trowel. If you are having sprinkler problems, fix that first before installing SOD. 

Step 6.) A Time to Till
Tilling is hard, so be ready with gloves, safety glasses and earplugs. Before tilling you can use a weed eater and lawn mower to remove some of the grass you currently have. Some people will spray Round Up their lawn to kill the grass. I do not recommend this. If you do, wait at least three weeks before planting anything. And be sure not to kill your surrounding plants and shrubs. Once you have removed some of the grass with the weed eater and mower, rake up the debris. Once you have removed all the grass possible, it's time to till. Start tilling. If you have a slope, till from East to West from the slope. basically avoid tilling up and down the hill. You will have to adjust your posture when controlling the tiller. The idea is to till about 3" or so. Don't be

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