Step 1: Measuring and Ordering
Use a tape measure to measure the area of your planned lawn. Include these measurements on a sketch of the lawn area, noting the length, width, and any unusual features. Our experienced staff will determine the proper amount of sod you will need based on your sketch and measurement information.
Schedule your turf delivery after preparation work is completed and you are ready to install. Prompt installation on the day of delivery will ensure a healthy beginning for your new lawn.
Step 2: Soil Preparation
For best results, roto-till or spade the area to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Eliminate drainage problems by having soil slope away from foundations. Soil-test your lawn area with the assistance of a qualified service professional or contact Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Rake in fertilizer, lime, peat and compost as needed to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Rake and smooth the soil, removing rocks, roots, and large clods. Level the area based on your specific site requirements. Keep the grade 1 inch below sidewalks or driveways.
Step 3: Turf Installation
Install your lawn immediately upon delivery. Turf is a living plant that requires ground contact and water to survive, so begin watering the lawn immediately upon installation.
During extreme heat conditions, if turf cannot be laid on the same day of delivery, certain precautions should be taken. If possible, place turf in shade and moisten. All full pallets should be reduced by 50%. Caution: Never cover pallets with plastic or vinyl tarps.
Begin installing your turf along the longest straight line, such as a driveway or sidewalk. Butt and push edges and ends against each other tightly without stretching, avoiding gaps and overlaps. Stagger joints in each row in a brick-like fashion, using a sharp knife to trim corners. Avoid leaving small strips at outer edges, as they will not retain moisture. On slopes, place the turf pieces across the slope.
To avoid causing indentations or air pockets avoid repeated walking and kneeling on the turf while it is being installed or just after watering. Rolling after the sod is installed will guarantee a sure connection between the plant and the earth it is laid on.
Step 4: Watering
Give your new lawn plenty of water upon installation. Water daily, at least an inch of water in each zone, keeping the turf and ground beneath saturated until the sod is firmly rooted. If unsure about how much water your lawn is receiving, put a coffee can or other container in the area and measure manually while irrigating. After 2 weeks, a less frequent and deeper watering routine can begin.
Weather conditions and soil drainage will dictate the amount and frequency of watering. Be certain that your new lawn has enough moisture to survive hot, dry, or windy periods. Water areas near buildings more often where reflected heat can dry the turf.
WHEN To Water New Turfgrass Sod
Begin watering new turfgrass sod within a half hour after it is laid on the soil. Apply at least 2 to 3 cm. (1 inch) of water so that the soil beneath the turf is very wet. Ideally, the soil 7 to 10 cm. (3 to 4 inches) below the surface should be moist.
Watering Tip #1: pull a corner of the turf back and push a screwdriver or other sharp tool into the soil. It should push in easily and have moisture along the first 7 to 10 cm. (3 or 4 inches), or you need to apply more water.
Watering Tip #2: make absolutely certain that water is getting to all areas of your new lawn, regardless of the type of sprinkling system you use. Corners and edges are easily missed by many sprinklers and are particularly vulnerable to drying out faster than the center portion of your lawn. Also, areas near buildings dry-out faster because of reflected heat and may require more water.
Watering Tip #3: runoff may occur on some soils and sloped areas before the soil is adequately moist. To conserve water and ensure adequate soak-in, turn off the water when runoff begins, wait 30-minutes to an hour and restart the watering on the same area, repeating this start and stop process, until proper soil moisture is achieved. For the next two weeks keep the below-turf soil surface moist with daily (or more frequent) watering. Especially hot, dry or windy periods will necessitate increased watering amounts and frequency.
Watering Tip #4: as the turf starts to knit its new roots into the soil, it will be difficult, impossible and/or harmful to pull back a corner to check beneath the turf (Watering Tip #1), but you can still use a sharp tool to check moisture depth by pushing it through the turf and into the soil.
Watering Tip #5: water as early in the morning as possible to take advantage of the daily start of the grass’s normal growing cycle, usually lower wind speeds and considerably less loss of water because of high temperature evaporation.
Watering Tip #6: if the temperature approaches 37(C (100(F), or high winds are constant for more than half of the day, reduce the temperature of the turf surface by lightly sprinkling (syringe) the area. This sprinkling does not replace the need for longer, deeper watering, which will become even more critical to continue during adverse weather conditions.
During the rest of the growing season most lawns will grow very well with a maximum total of one inch of water a week, coming either from rain or applied water. This amount of water, properly applied, is all that is required for the health of the grass, providing it is applied evenly and saturates the underlying soil to a depth of 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches).
Watering Tip #7: Infrequent and deep watering is preferred to frequent and shallow watering because the roots will only grow as deeply as its most frequently available water supply. Deeply rooted grass has a larger “soil-water bank” to draw moisture from and this will help the grass survive drought and hot weather that rapidly dries out the upper soil layer.
HOW To Water New Turfgrass Sod
Proper watering techniques are a critical aspect of lawn watering, equal in importance to the issues of when to water and how much to water. Here are several key factors to proper technique:
Avoid hand sprinkling because it cannot provide the necessary uniformity, as most people do not have the patience, time or “eye” to adequately measure what is being applied across any larger areas of lawn. The only possible exception to this guideline would be the need to syringe the surface of the grass to cool it, or to provide additional water near buildings or other heat-reflecting surfaces.
Understand the advantages and disadvantages of different sprinkler designs the type of sprinkler that you select will determine proper use.
In-Ground Systems require professional design and installation and they require routine adjustments and regular maintenance to be most effective and efficient. The greatest mistake made with most in-ground systems is the “set it and forget it” philosophy that fails to account for the changing seasonal water requirements to maximize turf grown or even allowing the system to operate during or following a multi-inch rain storm. Another frequent problem is when heads get out of alignment and apply water to the sidewalk, street or house siding, rather than to the lawn.
Hose-End Sprinklers range in complexity, cost and durability, but are highly portable and can provide uniform and consistent coverage, when properly placed on the yard and adequately maintained.
Sprinklers that do not throw the water high into the air are usually more efficient because prevailing winds are less disruptive of distribution patterns, the potential for evaporation loss is reduced and trees, shrubs and other plants do not block the pattern (or are very noticeable if they do).
Several times during the growing/watering season, routine maintenance to check for blocked outlets, leaking or missing gaskets, or misaligned sprinkler heads is important, regardless of the sprinkler design.
Select sprinklers and systems for uniformity of coverage across whatever area they are designed to water. Inexpensive hose-end sprinklers and in-ground irrigation systems can provide uniform coverage, but they can also be extremely variable and inconsistent in their coverage patterns.
Verify watering uniformity can be accomplished with a very simple and inexpensive method that uses only 4 to 6 flat-bottomed, straight-sided cans (tuna fish, cat food, etc.), a ruler and a watch.
Follow these steps:
- Step #1: arrange the cans at random distances away from any sprinkler, but all within the area you assume is being covered;
- Step #2: run the sprinkler for a specific amount of time, say a half-hour OR run the water until a specific amount of water is in at least one can, say a 1.5 cm (0.5 inches)
- Step #3: measure the amount of water in each can, checking for uniformity. Some variation is expected, but if there is a difference of 10-percent or more between any two cans replace or adjust the sprinkler or relocate the system.
This measuring method should be used across an entire lawn that has an in-ground irrigation system to assure maximum coverage and uniformity.
Watering difficult areas such as slopes and under trees requires some special attention to achieve maximum benefit and a beautiful lawn.
For Slopes, see Watering Tip #3
For Areas Under and Near Trees you need to know the water requirements for the specific trees, as well as for the grass. Despite having deep “anchor” roots, trees take up moisture and nutrients from the top six inches of soil…the same area as the grass. Trees and turf will compete for water. Watering sufficiently for the grass may over-water some varieties of trees and under-water others. A common solution is to not plant grass under the drip-line of trees, but rather use that area for perennial ground covers, flowerbeds or mulch beds.
HOW MUCH Water Is Applied & Needed
The amount of water your lawn requires and receives will determine its overall health, beauty and ability to withstand use and drought. Keep in mind that too much water can ruin a lawn just as fast as too little.
One inch a week is the standard water requirement established for most lawns; however, this will vary between different turf species and even among cultivars within a species. There will also be varying water requirements for seasonal changes and still more differences brought about because of different soil types.
Look at your lawn to determine its water needs. Grass in need of water will have a grey-blue cast to it, rather than a blue-green or green color. Also, footprints will still appear after a half-hour or more on a lawn in need of water, while on a well-watered lawn footprints will completely disappear within minutes.
Use a soil probe, such as a screwdriver or large spike to determine how dry your lawn is. If the probe can be pushed into the soil easily, it’s probably still moist, but if it takes a lot of pressure to push in, it’s time to water.
Verify watering quantities with the same measuring can method described above, except you will want to note the time it takes for the cans to collect a specific amount of water. For example, if 0.5 cm (0.25-inches) collects in 30 minutes, you can easily calculate that it will take one hour to apply 1 cm (0.5-inches) of water or two hours to apply 2.5 cm (1-inch).
Water timers can help provide consistency and even be programmed or set to turn-off when no one is awake or at home. Some timers measure just the amount of time water is flowing through the devise and you have to know or calculate how long to set the timer for (see item above). Other units measure the number of gallons of water flowing through it. Knowing that 600 gallons per 1,000 square feet equals one-inch of water will help you calculate the timer settings your lawn will require.
Your new sod lawn significantly increases your property value. With proper care your lawn will remain a great asset, providing beauty, a clean playing surface, and an improved environment.
During the first three weeks, avoid heavy traffic on your new lawn. Give the roots an opportunity to firmly knit with the soil before using it regularly. Avoid leaving large indents or footprints.
Mow often, generally removing no more than 1/3 of the grass height at a mowing. Keep your mower blade sharp.
Fertilizer and chemical applications will depend on climate, sod type, soil type, insects, weed, and disease conditions. For fertilizer and maintenance requirements contact a East Coast Sod representative.