Thursday, March 17, 2011

Turf Wars

Well, it is nearly Thursday.  I am writing this much later in the week than I thought I would be.  Part of it is because my schedule has been crazy.  The other part is that it has taken my hands and arms this long to stop vibrating from the rear-tined tiller.  If you think my typing is bad under normal conditions...

Earlier this month, I mentioned that my husband and I had decided to wage war against our existing turf.  I posted pictures here.  Let me help you understand the severity of the situation.  Fescue.  Full sun.  All day.  Sun up to sun down.  No exaggeration.  Again, fescue.  In last summer's heat.  With a record number of 90 degree days.  And, record nighttime temperatures.  A very lazy and inattentive (at least inattentive to the turf) homeowner/gardener.  (In my own defense, I had my reasons.)  A water bill that was getting crazy.  And so, sometime around August, we waved the white flag.  Complete surrender.  We admitted defeat and decided we would start over by re-sodding in the spring with a more drought and heat tolerant grass.  Enter, JaMur Zoysia.

Now, if you think sodding might be in your future, then you are bound to do some research on the type of turf grass that you want to put down.  That's step one.  There are many sources of information on the Internet, but how can you be sure they are trustworthy?  This site, is an excellent place to start.  It's a website, hosted by UGA, that provides turf selection information as well as retailers for GCIA Blue Tag certified sod and seed.  What is GCIA and why is it important?  The Georgia Crop Improvement Association regulates genetic purity for all Blue Tag certified turf products in the state.  What does a Blue Tag certified turf product get you?  Well, you will get turf that has been grown under very strict rules and regulations to ensure your new turf will be free of noxious weeds, common bermuda and any other contaminating turf grass.  Folks, if you are going to spend the money, time and energy, this is what you want.  And, the good news, the price is reasonable and many of the growers will do residential deliveries of turf for a minimal charge.  We got ours delivered for $75.  And, no middle man.

Now, you have decided what kind of sod you want and you have decided to put it down yourself.  Next step, Patten Seed has an excellent video that will give you the basic steps.  --> click here!<--

Basically, here's how it goes down:
  1. You want to remove any current growth.  Many use Roundup for this.  We were lucky, Mother Nature took care of this for us the summer before.  In reality, "they" say you should remove all growth, but we didn't.  We just tilled in the flourishing weeds really well.  We hope that will be good enough.  Some people don't even do this step.  This brings us to the next step...
  2. You will want to use a rear-tine tiller to till up the existing soil.  This is not difficult, but it does take some time.  Again, some people don't do this step either.  Moving on...
  3. If you have any drainage issues or areas that need to be re-graded, you want to do that next.  We had this problem.  So, we ordered 12 cubic yards of good soil from Atlanta Landscape Materials and played in dirt for what felt like years but was, in reality, less than a day.  This was the high drama portion of the project complete with I-can't-lift-one-more-shovelful-of-dirt-or-rake-one-more-area-not-quite-tears-but-very-close moments.  And, you guessed it, some people don't do this step...
  4. Now, you use a sod roller over your dirt to ensure everything is level and graded nicely and you turn on the sprinklers.  Be very careful here.  If it is anywhere near 70 degrees, children will seem to appear out of thin air and beg to run and play in them.  The thing is, you have just hauled around a truck's worth of dirt and you will be tempted to run in it yourself.  But, don't!  Remember, you just graded and smoothed your dirt!  Assuming it all looks good, you get to...
  5. Lay the sod that has been sitting there all tidy on pallets, patiently, just waiting to get in on the action!  The goal here is that you don't want the seams to match up.  You want to lay it down like a bricklayer would.  When you have placed that last piece of sod, you get to...
  6. Roll it with a sod roller.  And, then you get two drinks, one for the sod and one for you.  Done.
Now, what you have just read is the "proper" way to sod.  My parents have their own way.  It goes like this:
  1. Dad accepts the delivery of sod.  He and Mom walk out to the existing untilled, untouched landscape and lay it down.  Dad allows his aging mother visiting from Florida to help them because it is so easy.  They finish in under a day and it looks amazing to this day.  Many years later, when daughter says she and her husband have just tilled, graded, smoothed, sprinkled, sodded, rolled and sprinkled again 4000 square feet of land, parents laugh and ask what the hell they did all that "extra stuff" for.  Done.
Interestingly, the drivers who delivered our sod also applied my parents' technique with great success.  In fact, they outright asked me why we bothered to till.  They laid their sod right on top of bermuda they no longer liked and had great success.  I am glad my husband was out of earshot for this.  Following the proper method was mostly my idea which he bought into.  I can be very persuasive.  When it counts, I tend to be an instruction reader/follower.  I say all this because while it was too late to save ourselves, it may not be too late for you.  That said, apply this technique at your own risk.

Photos of our battle can be found on flickr:

The end.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you Shawn, if you're going to do it, do it by the book. Anywhere in the country where you have 'unforgiving' soil, the extra effort will pay off I think (Colorado comes to mind).
    It looks like you both did a wonderful job & I look forward to seeing it green & thriving!