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

A Lawn in a Day (page 4 of 4)

by Marion Lyons

Technology for Tomorrow

Though they're still very unusual and difficult to find, look for two new lightweight sods in near future. In the first type, which is used for golf courses though rarely by homeowners, the grower washes all the soil from the roots of conventionally grown sod. The result looks like a carpet with a fibrous bottom and a green top. The second type is grown in a thin layer of organic soil mix on perforated plastic sheets. At harvest, the grower slices the sod into the desired widths and rolls the lightweight sod off the plastic.

Of the two types, washed sod is more readily available. At least one sod farm in every state grows limited quantities of it, usually to supply sports facilities. Only a few farms are currently trying out plastic-grown sod. Lightweight sod is more expensive than the standard kind: In California, for example, it costs about 40 cents per square foot.

The advantage of both lightweight types is that they are clean and extremely easy to handle. The plastic-grown sod has an especially sturdy root system that doesn't go into shock. It also comes in large pieces, so it has fewer seams.

Before the sod is delivered...

1. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of composted fir or pine bark over the area, along with any other amendments (such as lime or sulfur) ecommended by a soil test report.

2. Use a rototiller to incorporate amendments, then rake to level and smooth the site.

3. Firm the soil by rolling, establishing its level 3/4 of an inch below final grade to allow for sod thickness.

On the day of delivery...

4. Plan on an early morning delivery, then move quickly. Lay a strip or two, and water it in. If it's a hot day, sprinkle water on the sod on the pallet to keep it cool and moist.

5. Start laying along a straight edge such as a sidewalk, and keep a heavy utility or old kitchen knife handy to trim sections to odd shapes.

6. Roll freshly laid sod to press its roots firmly against soil and prevent patches from drying out and dying.

7. Water twice daily (or more often during hot weather) until new roots begin to grow into the soil, about 2 or 3 weeks. Use a rain gauge as shown to measure the amount of water actually applied, and test for adequate soil moisture by pushing a screwdriver through the sod. If it goes in easily, the soil is sufficiently moist.

Marion Lyons is a garden writer based in New York City.

Photography by Suzanne DeJohn/NationalGardening Association

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