turf installation

  • Basic Sod Health and Prevention of Problems

    Basic sod maintenance is the best disease prevention program. Specific maintenance practices include proper fertilization, correct irrigation (watering and drainage), correct mowing height, appropriate maintenance tools, placement in full sun, and use of disease resistant sod. While full sun placement isn't always possible, it is important to keep in mind that a lot of shade isn't ideal as the grass is more thin, weak and prone to stress. Weather also plays a huge part in the outcome of your turf, and it's unpredictability and uncontrollable nature will often work against you.

    Diseases in lawns usually start small with a few patches or spots. If a problem is severe and widespread and has occurred suddenly, there's a good chance it is not a disease but another stressor caused by heat, water, mowing, poor drainage, or fertilizer, just to name a few. Irrigation problems are often the root cause of discolored lawns. Providing good soil drainage and maintaining proper irrigation are crucial steps in preventing many sod problems.

    If the cause of the turf problem is a fungus, there are different types of fungicides that are meant to be used either preventively or curatively. Preventive fungicides work to activate a plant's natural defenses against infection. Curative fungicides can stop dead or diseased areas from getting bigger, but will not bring a dead patch back to life. It will take time for the grass to fill back in on its own, or it can be re-seeded. It can be helpful to keep a record of where the disease has occurred as fungus often occurs in the same areas year after year, so preventive fungicide can be accurately applied. Prevention is always best, which will include applying preventive fungicide, aerating, proper fertilization and irrigation maintenance.

    The most common summer disease found in grasses like tall fescue is brown patch. It creates large, tan-colored lesions on the blade of grass and expands into circular patches up to several feet wide. Brown patch is most aggressive when there's a combination of high humidity and temperatures above 90 degrees, but can also become active when temperatures at night are above 60 degrees, thus being active through summer and well into September. Preventive fungicides are the best option for brown patch when applied in the spring or early summer. Large patch can be found in warm-season grasses like St. Augustine. Tan or red-brown lesions can be seen on the leaf sheath and expands into circular patches, oftentimes 12 feet wide. Large patch attacks when warm-season grasses are growing more slowly, during fall, winter and spring. It becomes active when temperatures drop below 60 degree, which is the ideal time to apply preventive fungicide.

    A common type of pest that can be found in your turf are grubs. A preventive insecticide for grubs is best done in June and July as this will protect your lawn through the end of mating season in August. This preventive insecticide should provide control for up to four months. In the spring or fall you can apply curative insecticides that control current problems, but will not prevent future problems.

    While there are preventive and curative fungicides and insecticides that will treat turf diseases, it is important to reiterate that proper lawn maintenance and preventive practices are the best approach when caring for your sod.

  • Proper Sod Stall Installation & Maintenance

    Anyone can lay their own sod lawn with the right tools and few pointers.

    Preparation is key. You want to make sure you clear the area where you will be laying your sod of any weeds and debris (rocks, cement, bricks, etc.). Next you will roughly grade the area with a hand rake, sloping the grade away from any foundations in order to aid in proper drainage. This usually uncovers more debris that need to be cleared. You can then till 3-4 inches deep, adding additional topsoil as needed blending native and new soil. This is important as it can help control weeds, help alleviate compacted soil, assist in root penetration and help air and water movement. End the preparation step by grading the entire area again, using a heavy duty rake, and rolling the area with a partially water filled lawn roller.

    Choosing the best sod depends on several factors. Your location is a major determining factor, such as whether or not you need a drought or heat tolerant sod, or would a cool-season or warm-season grass be best. Keeping in mind the specific location of where your sod will be is also important. Is there a lot of shaded areas, slopes, full sun, or possibly heavy traffic. Lastly, personal preference should also be considered. The look and feel of the blade will vary, along with the shade of green and if the sod stays green all year or goes dormant. Knowing your options and speaking with a professional can lead you to choosing a sod that will suit your needs best.

    Usually, sod should be installed on dry soil, but in cases of high temperatures, moistening the soil for about two or three minutes can be necessary. Whenever possible, install your sod on the day you receive it. If you must wait, the best thing to do is shade the uninstalled sod. Install your sod against a straight edge, like a sidewalk or driveway. Trying as much as possible to avoid gaps between pieces, as well as not overlapping or stretching, butt each piece against each other tightly. Lay the pieces in a brick pattern, staggering the joints in each row. When laying sod on a slope, lay the pieces across the slope rather than down. This will aid in minimizing water runoff and help retain even moisture. Last, you will want to roll over your new sod to help get rid of any air pockets. For the first two weeks it is best to avoid walking on your sod, this includes animals.

    Often, watering, or the lack of, is the cause of many sod problems. As soon as you lay your new sod you will need to soak the grass and soil, providing about 1 inch of water. It should be very wet, but only for this first watering. For the first two weeks, until the sod has established and is firmly rooted, you should water your lawn daily. Watering twice a day is typical, but sometimes a third time is needed depending on weather conditions such has high temperatures or high winds. You lawn should be left feeling moist after each watering. Finding the correct duration and frequency of watering specific to your lawn is critical in its establishment and long term health.

    Besides figuring out a good watering schedule, it is also helpful to testing your soils pH levels. Additionally, appropriate mowing and fertilizer application will aid in the establishment and care of your new sod lawn.

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