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The problem isn’t the turfgrass

June 20, 2013  - By

Turfgrass needs several essential things to grow . . . but rocks aren’t one of them

Most everyone knows that turfgrass, like most other plants, needs a few essential things to grow: exposure to the sun, good soil, water and sufficient nutrients.  Of course this is a somewhat elementary description, but you get the idea.

The question is, why is it that freshly harvested turfgrass sod sometimes fails after it’s installed? What happened to the turfgrass between harvest, shipping and installation, if anything?

The truth is, more often than not, the problem isn’t the turfgrass, it has to do with site preparation and/or installation.

The accompanying photos illustrate the point quite well. There are several things at issue here. First it’s that narrow strip, some eighteen inches wide; where a landscaper installed some new turfgrass sod. With the likelihood of having hot asphalt to the left and right of such a thin strip of turf you would think, “not such a good idea,” but wait, it gets even better. When the turfgrass died and it was removed to lay some new sod it became evident heat wasn’t the only culprit. The landscaper hadn’t incorporated any topsoil. Instead of topsoil there were rocks, pebbles and chunks of asphalt.

This may not be the fault of the contractor or the landscaper, let’s give them benefit of the doubt and blame an inexperience installation crew. But given this incident and recalling our column from last year (“Can you lay new sod on top of an existing lawn or sports field?”), perhaps it would be worthwhile to take just a moment to address site prep prior to laying new turfgrass sod.

It is recommended that the absolute minimum depth of quality topsoil for a healthy lawn is 4 inches. If you want deeper root penetration add a few more inches of topsoil, 6 inches would work just fine. And one more thing, a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 would be ideal

And please . . . no ROCKS.

Jim Novak

This narrow strip where a landscaper installed some new turfgrass sod is about eighteen inches wide. Photo: Jim Novak

Jim Novak

Hot asphalt to the left and right of such a thin strip of turfgrass is not such a good idea. Photo: Jim Novak

Jim Novak

The landscaper laid the sod on rocks, pebbles and chunks of asphalt instead of topsoil. Photo: Jim Novak

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About the Author:

Turfgrass Producers International – TPI

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