As a professional in the turfgrass industry, sod installation is a real, real sore subject for us. As it appears to be one of those things in life where the super-majority of property owners have to learn by failing. Most people just can't resist the sales pitch from their neighborhood mowing and lawn care service (aka yard guys) that there is actually a quick, cheap "instant lawn" available.
The super-majority of homeowners in north Texas, re-sod 2-4X before it becomes financially painful enough for them to pay a professional consultant to sit them down and give them the hard truth: lawn grass cannot die of old age. It dies for one of four reasons: soil, disease, irrigation deficiency and sunlight deficiency. Please read this blog post for more details: Why is my Lawn Brown & Dying.
Throwing new Zoysia sod or St. Augustine sod onto the same diseased and deficient soil is like putting makeup over skin cancer or like putting lipstick on a dead pig.
Bottom line: if you do not cure the original root problem that killed the grass to begin with, then it will kill your new lawn in 1-3 years (quicker if disease, longer if more shade issue).
How to Lay Sod & How to Install Sod Grass
For do it yourselfers, they typically ask Google the following questions: How to Lay Sod and How to Install Sod Grass? Laying sod is what we call "throwing down some sod.” It falls in the category of unskilled, basic labor. And quite frankly you don’t even need to contact a sod installation service if you just want to lay sod on the dirt under your tree. You can go to Home Depot and buy sod for $3.00 a piece and be done with tossing it down in less than an hour.
Properly installing sod grass on the other hand, is really hard work. It is hard work because it not only requires diagnosing, then curing the original problem. But then it also requires stripping out, and hauling off, the old, dead 3/4 inch sod layer before starting installation of Zoysia sod, Bermuda sod or St. Augustine sod grass.
If you want proper sod replacement installation done at your home, then here is the process we use:
- Consultant - hire a qualified lawn consultant or landscape consultant, to tell you why your lawn died.
- Disease Testing - based on how the dead area looks, and if rotting seems prevalent, overnight a stolon and root sample to a university disease testing lab. Results come back fast, usually in 4-7 days.
- Soil Testing - contact a soil testing service. Properly pull soil cores from the entire area. Send them off to the lab. Results usually come back in 3-4 weeks.
- Sunlight Deficiency - learn the difference between filtered shade, part shade, full shade and dense shade. It is a lawn crew myth that "Zoysia lives in the shade and Bermuda in the sun." All warm-season turfgrass lives best in full sun; zoysia and St. Augustine simply will tolerate a little shade, but they will not live (long term) in full or dense shade. Homeowners have to come to grips with the fact that unless they are willing to remove some trees or tall shrubs, or bulldoze their neighbors house, that some deep shade pockets of their lawn will need decorative rock, mulch or groundcover. Trimming trees works in some areas and not others. It requires someone with local knowledge, and an educational background in the field, to walk the property and point out all the "no grow" pockets.
- If you have a turfgrass or fungal disease, then start the treatments immediately. Then put sod installation on hold until the disease is in re-mission and it is safe to replace the sod.
- Spray the existing weeds and remaining turfgrass with a non-selective herbicide killer.
- Use a sod cutter to strip out the top 3/4 inch layer of dead grass (or even bare soil).
- Replace any sprinklers that are old or damaged.
- Level the overall yard grade with sandy loam soil. Till or use a lawn aerator to work the new soil in.
- Spread missing nutrients, fertilizer, and sulphur (to lower our high PHs) along with compost and sand to loosen the black clay.
- Level the new sod grass.
- Use a heavy roller, to roll the sod grass (optional).
- Do not let your dogs pee on the new sod, for at least 30-days. Note: dog pee always kills a small circle area in established, well-rooted sod. But new sod is akin to a baby, as it has no roots. Therefore, when dogs pee on new sod it usually kills the entire square.
DFW Turfgrass Science LLC, offers residential sod installation consulting services to the following areas of north DFW: Plano, Frisco, Lewisville, Allen, Mckinney, Carrollton, The Colony, Richardson (north), Dallas (far north), Little Elm, Prosper, The Colony and a few other bordering cities. Several of our clients have called our lawn consultant services a "protection of my investment." We agree you could call it an insurance policy, or simply just state you are learning how to perform the sod installation, 100% technically correct.
Our consultant services are available for DIY homeowners, along with people who are planning on having a sod installation service come do the work. As part of the consult we will obviously come out and do all of the pre-testing work, then we will also come out on the day of the installation and supervise the process for an hour or so. We will also provide you with the telephone number to the wholesale sod broker, so you can buy the Zoysia sod or St. Augustine sod directly and have it delivered to your home.
Please go to our Contact Us page if you are ready to have us come out and start the various evaluations and testing: https://turfgrassscience.com/contact-us/