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
surprised if you hit a cable that is not buried properly. Sometimes cable companies and others do not follow protocol. Till in straight lines slightly overlapping your previous path (watch out for the sprinklers!). Once you have finished your first round of tilling rake off the grass debris using the landscape rake and bow rakes. At the same time have another person start "tapering" all the edges that touch the side walk and driveway. This will keep the SOD level with the concrete and it will make mowing easier. Tapering will also give your lawn a nicer look. You may have to till again if there is still a significant amount of grass left. Once you have tilled the soil and you have raked off the grass debris, it's time to level the soil. If you needed a soil amendment (sandy loam is the best) spread the soil evenly on the lawn. Use the landscape rake using back and forth motions to level the soil out. You should have at least 1" to 3" of new soil.

Step 7.) Lay Down your SOD

Begin laying SOD from the closet part of your front door, working your way towards the street side. Water the soil if it is very dry. This will prevent the SOD from losing too much moisture. When starting your second row be sure to stagger the SOD like bricks. Use the utility knife to cut the SOD. There will be plenty of chances for these cuts especially with curved flowerbed borders. When laying the SOD be sure the squares are nice and tight. You will also have to cut around the sprinkler heads. Wet the SOD down with a water hose at around the half point. Once you have finished laying the SOD and completed all your cuts, it's time to roll the SOD. Grab your 250lb SOD roller, fill with water and roll that SOD. This will insure the air pockets under the SOD get squeezed out. It also insures good contact for root growth. Roll the SOD once more. Wet the entire lawn, soak it for about 30 minutes. You will have to water the new lawn for about 12 to 14 days, soaking the SOD every time. DO NOT ADD FERTILIZER! You can mow the lawn in about 2 weeks or so. Do not mow too low, keep the grass about 3" high for now, especially for St. Augustine. Bermuda can be cut lower to about 1.5". 

Contact me if you have any questions by the contact form or visiting my website. Please leave any comments you may have. 

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