Gardening Articles: Landscaping :: Lawns, Ground Cover, & Wildflowers
A Lawn in a Day
by Marion Lyons
Don't despair if you've just moved into a new home that has compacted subsoil where a front lawn should be or if your old lawn looks like a worn-out rug. The time and effort required to create a lush green lawn are probably less than you think. How? By laying sod.
Speed, Selection, and Easy Maintenance
Sod's big advantage over seed is speed. From soil preparation to final layout, it's possible to install a modest-sized sod lawn in one day. That's an appealing thought: dust and weeds in the morning and a green lawn in the evening! Sod has other features to recommend it, too.
If you buy sod from a reputable local grower, you are guaranteed to get a grass that grows well in your area. The grower may offer several choices, from low to high maintenance, for instance. Also, some improved varieties, such as 'Tifgreen' Bermuda, are available only as sod.
You can lay sod at almost any time of year, even when the ground is slightly frozen or during the heat of summer (although you'll need to water more in summer). In comparison, only spring and fall offer sufficiently favorable conditions for sowing most seed lawns, although late spring is good for seeding heat-lovers such as Bermuda and buffalo grasses.
Yes, you'll have to baby a new sod lawn for a couple of weeks, but that's far less time and effort than for a seeded lawn. Until new sod establishes roots in the soil, it needs watering twice a day, and sometimes more often, during hot weather. In comparison, keeping a newly seeded lawn moist may require a dozen waterings a day.
New sod lawns suffer only slightly from weed invasions. Most soils contain many weed seeds that are just waiting for the opportunity to grow, and right after you prepare and amend soil, sow grass seed, and provide water, weed-growth conditions are perfect. Unless you've taken steps to eliminate or reduce weed seeds in the soil before planting, weeds may overrun a seeded lawn.
Special Uses for Sod
Sod is especially useful where patches of lawn have become bare, weedy, or damaged. Winter use of street salt in northern regions is one major cause of damage. After removing the threadbare turf and preparing the soil for planting, you can buy a roll or two of sod at a garden center and place it over the area. Again, a seeded lawn would take several weeks to fill in and look lush.
If erosion is a problem on a slope, no matter how gentle or steep the incline, sod is the better option. Its healthy, heavy root mat will withstand water runoff even before the lawn is fully established.