Tips & Advice
If you're looking for advice to ensure your sod reaches its full potential, then you've come to the right place. We have put together 10 information sheets to help our clients and customers get the most from their turf investment. These sheets answer many frequently asked questions that range from preparation and selection to maintenance and beyond.
Sheet 1: How To Choose The Right Sod Product
Sheet 2: RTF Product Information Sheet
Sheet 3: Turf Blue Seed Product Information Sheet
Sheet 4: Homeowners Guide to Sod Install
Sheet 5: Sod Water-Mowing-Fertilizer Guide
Sheet 6: Homeowner’s Guide to Seed Install
Sheet 7: Seed Water-Mowing-Fertilizer Guide
Sheet 8: Recommended Treatments for Weeds
Sheet 9: Recommended Treatments for Diseases
Sheet 10: Recommended Treatments for Pests
Sheet 11: Benefits of Turfgrass
Sheet 12: Glossary of Lawn Terms
Are you ready to begin installation of your new lawn? Before you begin, know what to expect by reading through our 6-step walkthrough.
Step 1: Prepare Your Site
If you need guidance for your project please call well in advance. Our first priority is you. So we are always happy to help you through any step of the process.
- To prepare your site you should remove any existing grass, weeds, debris, etc. The grade should look as you want it to after installation paying attention to drainage and evenness.
- Soil compacted by construction equipment needs to be loosened, leveled and firmed.
- Soil tests can be done to establish the need for nutrient or organic amendments.
- Remember, the best time to prepare for sod is before it arrives. Typically, when walking on the prepared soil you should not leave more than a slight foot impression on the ground.
- Finally, it is critical to apply a starter fertilizer immediately before installation.
Step 2: Measure
- Measure the area the same way you would for painting a wall or installing a floor. Our turf is cut and priced by the square foot, so your units of measure need to be feet, and each roll contains ten square feet.
- Take your time in measuring. Having a little extra is better than running short.
Step 3: Order
- Generally, the more lead time given for your order the easier, and sometimes less expensive, yours may be.
- Call before site preparation to get an idea of our harvest schedule. Your order will be delivered via truck and forklift and we always try to combine orders for full loads. Therefore, we will work with you to maximize the time you have and the time we need. There are many variables that affect our schedule so it is always best to call a minimum of three days prior.
- Your sod will be delivered on wooden pallets, which we take a deposit on, and can be placed on the site for ease of use.
- Notify us once you are done with the pallets. To expedite the return of your deposit please stack them neatly so we can retrieve them with our machine.
Step 4: Receive
- On the day you are to receive your sod delivery please be ready! We are diligent about getting you the freshest product in the best possible condition and it is equally important for you to be ready.
- Have the site prepared as instructed here and be sure to have help lined up if needed. It is best to begin the installation as soon as the sod arrives. The turfgrass you have purchased is a living plant with many live organisms that continue their life process while rolled up. Stacked on the pallet heat from respiration cannot escape and may reach critical temperatures if left too long. The simple answer is to be ready.
Step 5: Install
- Before actually laying the sod remember to apply a starter fertilizer. Next to water, starter fertilizer drastically increases the sod’s ability to begin root growth and general establishment.
- If the soil is dry and summer conditions exist, lightly wet the ground to cool and eliminate root stinging. Dry soil under a hot sun can shock the roots as you lay the sod. Apply just enough water to cool the soil without making mud.
- Avoid walking on installed sod as much as possible.
- Begin with a straight line (sidewalk, a wall, driveway, etc.) and lay sod alongside.
- With the next row stagger the joints, like a brick wall, and make sure the ends and long edges are snuggly pushed together. Gaps will allow weeds to germinate and grow.
- As soon as there is enough finished area, begin watering. You do not have to make the job site messy or inconvenient but remember that much of the root mass has been eliminated and the turfgrass will be thirsty. Supply water as soon as possible.
- Once all sod is installed continue watering until the soil under the sod is completely soaked. Lift a piece of the sod here and there and check for effective infiltration of water. If the ground is soft when you step on it, you have watered enough. At this point try not to reenter the area until the ground has absorbed the water.
Step 6: Monitor & Care
Watering practices for your new sod will depend on the time of year. Maintain moist to wet soil under sod for the first two weeks. When you pull back sod look for new, white roots going into the ground. You may even feel some resistance as you pull the roots free. This is a positive sign of good watering.
- There may be signs that you are not applying enough water, or you may see “dry spots” in your yard. Sod shrinks and you begin seeing gaps between individual sod rolls. Adequately watered sod will immediately begin to knit together and to the ground, inadequately watered sod will shrink.
- sod that is shocked will take on a dusty, dull green appearance and the leaves will fold to narrow slivers, which may take several days to appear. This is a sign that the grass is lacking moisture and going dormant. Be careful to give this area the needed water and monitor, it should come out of it within a few more days.
After two weeks you can gradually reduce the frequency of watering. It is important to water more deeply to encourage root growth deep into the soil. We suggest putting out a container with straight sides to act as a rain gauge to determine the amount of water being applied. Less frequent watering of about an inch should work well. Do not forget to include rainfall that may occur. At four weeks we recommend another application of granular starter fertilizer. Avoid using any products with herbicides in them during the first six weeks. From this point on follow a fertilizer program that allows at least four applications per year.
Step 7: Water, Mowing, & Growth Cycles
For two weeks following installation maintain moist soil under the new sod. You will need to periodically lift a small section of the turfgrass to check for proper watering amounts, and during this time, you should observe new white roots growing into the soil (see photo). Remember, roots for the sod start out shallow, only as deep as the sod roll itself. Therefore, you will only need to water enough to maintain moisture to this shallow depth. As the roots grow deeper they need a deeper supply of moisture. The illustrations show deeper roots, requiring less frequent but longer duration watering.
After two weeks it should be somewhat difficult to pull the sod up from the ground. This is called knitting down. At this point, you should see good results from deep, infrequent watering cycles.Watch for the stress signs mentioned in Step 6. If these occur, adjust watering practices until corrected.
When harvested, Ideal Turf arrives with about two inches of blade length. This is done for harvesting purposes and to avoid the need for immediate mowing. We recommend mowing heights between two and three inches. Root depth is directly proportionate to mowing height (see illustration). Benefits of taller mowing heights are; deeper more substantial root mass able to find moisture, more competitive canopy against weeds, more resilient and robust against wear and tear, and more efficient use of applied water.
Ideal TurfIt is safe to begin mowing as soon as the grass has attached itself to the soil. Be careful to allow the ground to firm up if you are watering heavily so you do not leave foot impressions while mowing. Always avoid mowing more than 1/3 of the length of grass at one time. Cutting more than this can shock the root system and cause a reduction in root mass. For example, if you want to mow your lawn at two inches it can grow to three inches before mowing becomes critical.
We do not recommend bagging clippings on a regular basis. Properly fertilized, watered and mowed lawns should not create more clippings than the environment can break down. Clippings become food for many important organisms in your lawn as well as adding nutrients back to the soil.
Finally, to help our customers understand the growth cycle of cool-season grass we have used this pattern in our logo design. Turfgrass comes out of winter dormancy and experiences a flush of growth above and below ground. As the heat of summer approaches, growth tapers off to protect from heat and drought stress. During the fall turfgrass begins storing much energy in the roots and will continue this until the ground freezes for the winter. To take advantage of this pattern, light frequent applications of fertilizer will greatly improve your turfgrass’ appearance and health over infrequent heavy applications. Never exceed the package recommendations of the product you choose to use. Fall and early winter are good times to feed your lawn for energy storage and spring green-up the following year.
Whether you are a seasoned pro at installing sod, or are considering it for the first time, Ideal Turf is here for you.
We are often asked when the best time to install sod is, and how late in the year we can harvest sod. Without a doubt, cool temperatures and increased moisture from rain greatly help in the transplantation of any plant. These conditions are especially true for turfgrass as it is “planted” on top of the ground where temperatures rise and moisture levels fall most rapidly. We typically see these ideal conditions (lower temps, higher moisture) early in the year and late in the year.
The only two environmental conditions that limit our ability to harvest are excessive rain and frozen soil. Sod can successfully be installed while in winter dormancy. Typically, though, when the ground finally freezes, conditions in the field will not be favorable again until the spring thaw.
No matter what time of year you choose, you must have some type of watering capability available. If you do not have an in-ground irrigation system on your property, we strongly advise you to install Ideal Turf sometime between January 1 and May 1 or October 1 thru December 31. This will ease the effort required to apply adequate water and takes better advantage of the grass’ natural ability to adapt.
Manually operated sprinklers - for example, the type you would hook a hose to - generally take longer to cover a given area than permanent irrigation systems. During warm dry periods of the year, such as June through September, it may prove challenging to supply enough water for the grass to survive. (You may notice a gap between May and June. This is to allow sod installed in May to develop new roots before the summer heat, therefore reducing the amount of irrigation water needed.)
Be certain you can provide the time and water needed to welcome the sod to its new home. The most common factor in the failure of sod installation is not monitoring water needs, especially in the first two weeks. Properly done, the sod should immediately begin putting new roots into the soil and will gradually become less dependent on irrigation.
Second, do not expect to use your newly sodded area in less than six weeks. You need to allow ample time for that “knitting” to occur in order for the sod to be firmly attached to the ground and able to extract nutrients for repair and regrowth.
Finally, once in a while we come across a situation that requires seeding vs. sodding. If you are contemplating sod, but are unsure of its application, please call and we will help you make the correct choice. Remember, we stress these points in an effort to ensure your success for our success.
Ideal Turf isn't just a sod supplier, we want to be your advocate for better backyard living! As a proud homeowner, you want your yard to reflect all of the hard work and pride you have put into your home. Ideal Turf is your one-stop resource in keeping your lawn the best it can be. If you're having trouble choosing the right sod for your project... if you need more information on the different types of sod out there...