Tag Archives: sod

When growing grass, soil preparation is EVERYTHING!

Whenever repairing or installing a new lawn from seed or sod, one very important aspect of the planting process is soil preparation.  Besides using premium fresh site-specific grass seed or sod, avoiding the hot and dry season (if possible) and ensuring routine irrigation, the better the initial soil preparation is, the better the outcome will most certainly be.

Here are a few soil preparation tips that will ensure success when planting grass from seed and/or sod.

GRASS SEED

Before planting grass seed over an existing weakened stand of grass, be sure to core aerate first to open the existing soil, relieve compaction and allow for improved seed-to-soil contact.  Better yet, mechanically power rake the lawn first (spring or fall preferred) to scarify the soil surface and to remove debris and excess thatch.  Once dethatched, core aerate (single or multiple passes ok) then spread grass seed over prepared surface by walk behind drop/broadcast spreader or plant seed directly into soil via mechanical slit-seeder.

If planting grass seed across bare ground be sure to cultivate/roto-till the existing soil first.  Before adding any/all amendments, starter fertilizer or additional top soil, for large open widespread areas, use a front or rear tine tiller to cultivate the soil to a depth of 2″-4″ first.  For small spot-repair areas use a steel rake, cultivator or even a Garden Weasel to cultivate the soil manually.  Once all bare soil areas have been cultivated and soil compaction has been broken, rake loosened soil to level and grade adequately across site to ensure proper drainage, etc..

Add pulverized top soil (as/if needed) to further improve/elevate areas targeted for eventual seed planting to complete.

SOD

Assuming that we are starting with a bare ground situation where all existing unwanted grass has either been manually, mechanically or chemically removed prior to new sod installation, bare compacted soil needs to be adequately cultivated before new sod can be successfully grown.  Again, just like when planting grass seed across large open areas, roto-tilling is the preferred method of soil preparation.

Once all bare soil areas have been roto-tilled/cultivated (depth of 2″-4″ ideal), add amendments, fertilizer or additional pulverized top soil to prepare the site for new sod installation.

Take your time, be thorough in your soil preparation and you will have a beautiful new lawn in no time!

Please be sure to consider Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. for your next grass planting project.  We are happy to answer any questions you may have and help any way we can.  Thank you for visiting our site and have a great day!

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The stubborn grassy weed with a strange name………….. Quackgrass!

Quackgrass is a perennial grassy weed that is very difficult to eradicate from a lawn.  This persistent grassy weed can take over your lawn or invade open soil spaces rather quickly if left alone.  Quackgrass grows from seed and underground rhizomes (roots) that lie dormant overwinter but quickly revive each and every spring.  In the spring time (in particular) this problem weed grass usually grows faster and taller than other surrounding grass plants.  The reason this weed is so difficult to control is due to its resistance to selective herbicides that are routinely used in seasonal lawn care programs.  Even though we can quickly eliminate other unwanted grassy and grass-like weeds in lawns like crabgrass, barnyardgrass, foxtail, nutsedge, etc….. just not quackgrass – It lives on!  The best way to eliminate quackgrass is by applying a non-selective liquid herbicide like Round-Up (glyphosate) directly to the unwanted weed grass when it is actively growing (spring or fall).  Please keep in mind that this non-selective herbicide needed to eliminate quackgrass will also kill any/all desirable grass, plants, etc. that are allowed to come in contact with the herbicide.  It is a good idea to choose the right applicator (small paint brush, hand sprayer, back pack sprayer, etc.) that you can easily control to lessen the amount of excess turf damage.  If the quackgrass outbreak is very small in overall size than a paint brush (very tedious) or small hand sprayer (faster but expect grass damage as well) will do the trick.  However, if quackgrass has spread across your entire lawn than a larger back pack or tank sprayer should be utilized to make the application (please consult a professional for best results).  As you can imagine a lawn replacement/repair plan must be in place before making the decision to apply Round-Up to your quackgrass plagued lawn.  After waiting generally 14 days or so (post round-up application) you can repair the dead previously treated lawn areas by seed or sod to complete.

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Planting a new lawn by seed vs. sod

My professional opinion on the use of sod is that I will recommend it only when absolutely necessary. The reason we like growing a lawn from seed over sod is that we can choose the best blend of turf grass seed for the specific site/conditions at hand. Please keep in mind that most commercially grown Kentucky Bluegrass blend sod is meant to be installed in areas that have 70% + sun exposure throughout a given day. One important factor rarely exposed by most sod resellers. When the choice is made to grow a new lawn by seed you will need to intentionally “over prepare” the soil and nurture the seed for optimum germination and deep root establishment to ensure great long term results. Sod on the other hand can be simply laid on a “sub-par” soil surface and kept alive as long as there is adequate and routine irrigation available. Other factors that can easily stress poorly rooted sod are everyday foot traffic, pet waste, intense heat, insect activity, minimal watering, excessive watering, fungus, sub-par mechanical maintenance, etc. Even though seed will take a growing season or two to fully establish and reach the density levels you are looking for, you will have great long term results with lower maintenance costs thereafter. Sod on the other hand will look great instantly and usually require a greater initial financial investment, but will also continue to cost more over time to maintain (rebuild fading sod density due to limited initial grass variety selection, avoiding constant fungal related threats, continual need to break through dense thatch layer, etc.). The average sodded lawn retains a non-native soil layer that routinely causes poor air/water/nutrient flow to the lawn’s root zone below. In many cases we are forced to break down this “soil barrier” by performing multiple core aerations, mechanical slit-seeding, power raking/dethatching, etc. each and every growing season to maintain acceptable turf density.

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