How To Prepare Your Soil For Your New Turfgrass
There are certain things that you must do to ensure the turfgrass thrives and stays healthy. These steps are taken prior to the installation. Failure to prepare your soil properly could result in death of the sod or poor health for the grass. There is no better time to do this than before any planting takes place.
Benefits of Proper & Complete Soil Preparation
Faster recovery from wear
Reduced use of water, fertilizer, & chemicals
How Deep Should the Soil Be For Turf grass?
The absolute minimum quality soil depth for a care-free lawn is 10 cm (4 inches); however, for deeper root penetration and the benefits that brings, the accepted standard is 15 cm (6 inches).
There are several ways to measure your lawn. You can measure the old fashion way and break your yard down into basic shapes, then take length X width to get the square feet. Or, within our “buy now” tool there is an area calculator which allows you to click around the perimeter of your property to determine the quantity of sod needed. With this calculator you are able to use multiple overlays of your property to help calculate difficult to measure areas with a higher degree of accuracy. Our normal recommendation for ordering sod is to order 5-10% more sod than what your measurement shows. In our experience, it is better to have too much sod and end up with a few extra pieces, than too little which would result in an unnecessary trip back out to the farm! One full pallet will cover 450 square feet, but we can accommodate any size area you need down to the piece.
KILL AND REMOVE OLD GRASS
As new grass will not survive if installed on top of existing grass, the next step is to kill and remove whatever vegetation is currently residing in that area. The easiest way to do this is by applying RoundUp®️ or any other glyphosate based product, wait 3-4 days and then make a second application. Be leary of the bottle stating anything with “long term control of weeds” or “full year control of weeds” as that has added chemicals in it. These will typically leave some residual effects in the soil which will hinder your new sod development. RoundUp®️ or other glyphosate based products are contact based weed-killers that require the plant to soak up the active ingredient through its leaves but will not leave any residual chemicals in the soil. For best results, apply onto the plant when conditions are dry, with no rain forecasted 24 hours either before or after application. When done correctly your application area should be fully brown. Next, use a sod cutter or roto-tiller to remove the top layer of grass and debris to create a smooth, graded surface for laying new sod. If you do not have easy access to either of these machines you can rent them affordably from most big box stores.
PREPARING YOUR SOIL
There is an old adage to remember when dealing with your lawn, “The beauty is in the blades, but the action is in the roots.” This leads us right into proper soil prep to ensure you can have every advantage possible for a healthy lawn. Deep roots create a more dense product, it ensures that the lawn consumes water and nutrients more efficiently, and is more drought resistant. Most weeds don’t like the competition that grass provides, so an impenetrable lawn will tend to crowd out potential weeds resulting in resistance against insects and disease. For more information on proper soil preparation, see our soil preparation guide.
INSTALL YOUR NEW LAWN
Once you have properly prepared your soil, it is time to order and install your sod. We recommended that grass installation occurs as soon as possible after delivery. To ensure grass health, the absolute maximum amount of time your product should remain on the pallet after delivery is no more than 24 hours, with same day install being preferable. Please note, time sod can spend on a pallet is very seasonal. During cooler seasons such as Spring and Fall, sod will stay healthier, longer on the pallet. Conversely, during the hot and dryer months of Summer you will want to lay your sod immediately upon its arrival. Be mindful that sod is a perishable product so the time that it spends on the pallet can dry the grass out quickly. We have found that the optimal way to install your new sod is in a brick pattern with staggered seams. Use a landscape edger or a box cutting knife (we sell these online or at our office) to cut around corners and at the edges. The pieces should fit snugly, with no spaces in between or overlapping. Once installed, the grass can be rolled for smoothness. The seams will end up growing together in a few short weeks with ample watering and maintenance.
POST INSTALLATION MAINTENANCE
It is recommended during installation that you water your sod thoroughly. Soak directly following installation and water as needed to keep your grass from drying out. Ideal watering means soil should be moist 3-4” deep after installation. You can check this by probing the soil under the sod with anything that will poke into the dirt and looking at how deep down the water penetrated on the probe. Be leary of overwatering. You never want water to pool on top of your new grass. This can severely damage the turf, while also raising the chances for disease and rotting roots. Under normal circumstances, it takes 7-10 days during the growing season for new sod to establish. Good establishment can take longer during stress periods (extremely hot or cold) of the year. Proper rooting can be checked by lifting a corner of the new sod after a few days and noticing if white roots have connected to the ground. Your sod is ready to be mowed within 7-10 days after installation. All of our sod will arrive with a fresh (within 2 weeks) application of fertilizer. Please call our office if you have any post installation fertilizer questions. We recommend lowering the amount of foot traffic on new sod for the first 2-3 weeks following installation. This will give the roots an opportunity to firmly knit with the soil and ensure it will remain a smooth and level surface.