Gardening Articles: Landscaping :: Lawns, Ground Cover, & Wildflowers

A Lawn in a Day (page 2 of 4)

by Marion Lyons

Where to Buy Sod

Especially in big cities, retail nurseries or landscape contractors are the best sources of sod. In some regions, homeowners can buy directly from a sod farm. Find suppliers in the yellow pages under "Sod" or "Sod & Sodding Service." Or ask your garden center for a recommendation.

Tell your dealer or sod farmer about the growing conditions at your site, such as heavy clay or sandy soil, and the amount and kind of shade or slope. Given extra site information, sod growers can usually provide useful advice to help you avoid mistakes in either the choice of lawn type or installation.

What's the Cost? Save by Installing Sod Yourself

Sod is sold by the square foot or square yard (9 square feet equal 1 square yard). Plan to pay about 15 to 35 cents per square foot for sod only; professional installation will add 30 to 50 percent to the cost.

Bluegrass and hybrid Bermuda grass are usually the cheapest because they're sold in the greatest quantities. The most expensive sods are slow-growing, specialty types like buffalo grass, which runs about 45 cents per square foot, and bent, which costs about $1.10 per square foot. Many of those grasses are sold for golf courses or sports fields, not residential lawns. Generally, growers are very competitive and sell the same grasses for about the same pri so shop around for the best quality and the best prices for your area, especially if you're buying from a retail dealer that marks up the price.

When and How to Plant a Sod Lawn

Sod is heavy. One square foot of it weighs about 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 pounds, or more than 2 tons for a 1,000-square-foot lawn. Depending upon the size of your lawn, arrange for helpers, if only to help you lay the sod promptly. Especially during hot weather, moving the sod quickly from the delivery pallet to the lawn site so that it doesn't dry out or begin to biodegrade is important.

Before you buy the sod, till the soil 4 to 6 inches deep. Remove all debris and large rocks. Have the soil tested by a county extension office or a private testing service. Add any amendments the soil test recommends: Organic matter such as composted fir or pine bark and fertilizer are typical; other amendments such as limestone (in the East) or soil sulfur (in the West) may also be necessary. Grade and level the area to smooth the surface.

In areas where summer droughts commonly occur, you may have to install a permanent underground sprinkler system before laying the sod. You can always water the lawn with portable, aboveground sprinklers, but an underground system is usually much more efficient and convenient.

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