What to Look for in Quality Sod

Knowledge comes with experience and yet if we don’t have the knowledge how are we going to get good experiences that don’t turn us completely away from the knowledge-gaining opportunities.  Instead of wandering around blindly, you seek out others who already have the knowledge.  And we are going to give what you so desperately need—some knowledge to get you started.

If you are looking for sod you want to know you have the best quality sod for your yard or business. So how will you know if it’s sitting right in front of you or if you need to continue looking?  Here are some key signs to know if you are looking at quality sod or not:
•    Consistency
•    Fertilization
•    Maturity
•    Time of Harvest

When it comes to the consistency of the soil you have to also take into account how much of that sod is soil. The sod you are getting needs to have no more than an inch of soil.  If you have more soil you are getting too much in between the grass’ roots and the soil of your yard.  If you have less soil you won’t have enough to support the grass until it is fully established and the roots have had a chance to grow into the soil below the sod.

The consistency of the soil in the sod is important to the survival of your sod.  If the soil looks like it is falling apart, the consistency is not right.  Think about it, if the soil is falling apart it will fall apart when you need it to stay together. When you are laying the sod, the soil is an important key to the whole process because it is the only thing that is keeping the grass alive, it is the only source of nutrients for the sod.  The soil is what has to sustain the sod until it can get access to the new soil and adapt to it.

Now, on the other hand if the soil is so packed down that there is no chance of it falling apart you are faced with another problem.  Those small meshy roots of the grass need to get through in order to take root in the yard base soil.  If the soil is too hard packed your grass will run out of nutrients and die before it can battle its way past that wall of soil.

Make sure you know that the sod you are looking at has been fertilized properly.  With proper fertilization your sod can be more drought resistant as well as less apt to become diseased.  Fertilizer also influences the color of your grass and helps it recover from stress, such as the stress of being uprooted and transplanted somewhere else.  Well fertilized sod will further you along towards a happy, healthy green lawn.

Also, when buying sod, it is important to know how long its been since the last time it was fertilized.  You don’t want to over fertilize your lawn almost as much as you don’t want to under fertilize it. Both extremes could lead to problems such as crabgrass, wilting, or a disease called Brown Patch.

Mature grass should be a given qualification for what makes quality sod. You definitely don’t want sod that has grass that’s still trying to make its claim in the world.  So what does it mean in terms of sod, to be mature.  How can you tell if it is mature or not?  There are a few things such as how dense it is or the uniformity of the color that will make it easier to figure out its maturity.

One very important sign of maturity is the roots.  All the roots should like a dense spider web of tangled, intertwined mess of roots.  When they are all knit together like that they will be able to survive the handling that goes on between being cut, transported, inspected, sold, transported again, and installation.  That thick mesh of roots should also be somewhat visible so that you know it will starting establishing itself in the soil once its laid.

The grass itself should be the same color throughout, no patches of a different shade of green.  If its not all the same that is a sign of immature, unhealthy, or diseased grass.  That same grass should be very dense, thick, and about 2 inches long at the very least. When it is dense you know that it won’t look sparse when it comes time to lay it down.

Time of Harvest
There is about an 8 hour time frame to work in from the time the sod is cut at the sod farm to when it is replanted.  If the sod is not replanted within that window of time it starts to become stressed from all the moisture loss.
Three of the simplest things to look for in order to tell if the sod has been harvested for too long are discoloration, warmth, and moisture.

Discoloration is the easiest because you don’t even have to touch it to be able to tell.  If the grass isn’t all the same shade of green then there is a high probability that its probably been out too long.

Warmth is important to check for because it reveals more than the eye can see. Feel into the middle of the pallet of sod you are looking at.  If the center is warm it means it has been out if the sun far too long and it has started decomposition.  This also reveals the beginnings of thatch or dead grass. Your new yard has no place for dead or decomposing grass, especially since you are paying for it.

Moisture has two parts to it really.  Good, fresh sod will have moisture around the roots.  Without that moisture it will start to wither from heat.  The second part of moisture is around the edges.  If the edges of the sod are dry or cracked there isn’t enough moisture in the entire pallet to keep the sod alive enough to get it to the planting location.  Moisture is what keeps that sod going until it can get the other nutrients it needs from the soil. With moisture loss your sod not only becomes stressed but it also becomes more vulnerable to disease that it otherwise would have been.

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