Choosing the Right Sod for your Lawn

Choosing the Right Sod for your Lawn

The history of the lawn for Americans began with an obscure 20th century American Garden Club pamphlet that described the perfect lawn as a plot of same type grass, weed free and mowed to a neatly trimmed height of 1 ¼ inch. From those early days right up to the modern day, North Americans continue to strive towards that perfect lawn through watering, feeding, weeding and of course, by planting sod.

Sod and turf is by definition grass with the roots attached to a thin layer of soil or mesh membrane. It can be bought in square and rectangular pieces or in large rolls from landscaping contractors. It is usually grown locally as to prevent drying out during the long ride from the farm to the landscaper. Sod is used primarily for quick replacement of dead lawns in residential settings as well as being used for preventing instant erosion protection along roadsides, parking areas, commercial structures and other water sensitive areas.

While sod is more expensive than seeding, sod has many advantages over seeding that make it a popular choice when repairing, replacing or renewing any lawn. With instant erosion protection, thirty day root growth and a healthy ready-to-go turf, it’s easy to see why this is much more popular choice for a lawn than seeding.

St. Augustine

This thick leaf primarily southern grass is a hardy sod great for sandy, rich and loamy soils alike. Because it is extremely drought tolerant, it is widely used across the Gulf of Mexico states and Mexico. It is used in other temperature similar regions around the world.

Many variations of St. Augustine grass exists including dwarf, mixed blends and Floratam. Floratam was released from Texas and Florida Agricultural Experiment station in 1972 as a deterrent to the chinch bug and the SAD virus. It has also been noted that it is brown patch resistant as well. Leaf blades are wider and taller than basic St. Augustine sod and is much more drought tolerant.

Bahia

Mainly found in warmer climates, bahia is hardy grass that is resistant to most insect infestations, diseases and drought conditions. It thrives in almost any type of soil condition and grows long and thick very quickly. Its thin and long light green leafs are thick growing and dense, making them a fan favorite for roadside and drainage ditch grasses.

Bahia does not do well when cut very short. It should be cut long to avoid thinning out. It also is very intolerant to herbicides and other weed killers, so manual weed removal is the best bet when using this warm seasonal grass.

Bermuda

This low to the ground thick turf grass is a hardy sod that grows well in very sunny locations. Bermuda grass grows well in most types of soil but prefers rich and moist locations best. It’s thick growing turf and dense short leafs are perfect for foot traffic. Many versions of Bermuda grass are used in arenas and sport fields across the globe, particularly certified 419 Bermuda.

This sod works poorly in shady locations, so a large open yard is best for Bermuda applications. It’s also a very high maintenance grass that requires constant weeding, feeding and watering—and that can cause increased susceptibility to diseases and soil imbalances.

Zoysia

This sod is the high class cousin of Bermuda sod. It is characterized by its deep dark green turf, thick and hearty root system and slender elegant leafs. It prefers sandy and clay filled soils to other soils, but can adapt to grow in most any soil area. This grass does very well in the south and thrives in sunny and dry locations. But unlike Bermuda grass, it does equally well in partially shady areas.

Full shade severely restricts the growth of zoysia. It also does not grow well after repeated frost kills. It is highly resistant to weeds but can be easily susceptible to disease when over watered.

Centipede

This low-maintenance high-drought resistant grass spreads like wildfire under optimal conditions. It grows long shoots that resemble centipedes with their many root clusters and on the move vine-like root system. Centipede grows well in virtually any soil condition but thrives in sandy and dry conditions best.

While centipede is virtually maintenance free and requires very little weeding, it does grow very slow and takes time to repair or fill in dead spots.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Typically found in colder northern climates, Kentucky bluegrass is a lush, dark green/blue colored sod with soft thick leaves. It grows very well in well-draining soil and can be adaptable to sunny or shady conditions through the use of hybrid seeding techniques.

Kentucky bluegrass must be watered much more vigorously than southern grasses, especially during dry conditions. Look for sods that are tolerant to both sunny and shady locations for the best sod in a small yard. By mixing seeds of shade loving Kentucky bluegrass with sun loving seeds, hybrid lawns can grow to suit their locational needs.

Fescue

Tall fescue is a diverse grass that is commonly planted in locations where grasses experience hot and cold conditions year-round. This grass looks similar to Kentucky bluegrass with the exception of a lighter shade of green with a thinner leaf stalk. It does very well in wet soils of nearly any composition, as long as it drains well.

Blended fescue and bluegrass sods are used in high traffic areas with particular success. Even though it loves high moisture content soils, it does just as good in drought conditions and repairs itself quickly after damage. It requires a medium amount of maintenance during spring and summer months and is virtually pest and disease resistant.

Measuring and Ordering Sod

Measuring for a sod delivery is easy. A simple measuring wheel is the perfect tool to finding out how much sod you need for your project. First draw a rough sketch of the area you plan on installing sod. Cut odd shaped sections into squares and rectangles, measuring each ones width and length, and then recording it onto the drawing. Multiply the two measurements to find the square footage of your sod project. Add all of the totals together for the grand total square footage you need. Some landscaping contractors may use square yards to sell their sod. Just divide the square footage by nine and you’ll have a good approximation of your sod needs when you call for estimates.

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