Turfgrass Sod FAQ’s

Turfgrass Sod Saves Time and Water

Whether it’s a newly established lawn, or one with some years on it, large areas of bare soil present some unsightly and messy problems that can be remedied with a healthy lawn. While turfgrass sod has no equal in providing an “instant lawn”, the rising cost and increasing concern for availability of water raises a number of questions regarding different ways to establish or renovate a turfgrass lawn.

Q: How big is a roll of sod?
A: Small Roll: 2 ft x 4 ft / 8 sq ft per roll /480 sq ft per pallet
     Big Roll: 42″ wide x specified lengths (cut in sizes of 200, 250 and 300 sq ft/roll)

Q: Do I need to call ahead to pick-up sod?
A: Yes. Since sod is a perishable item, we cut to order so it’s important to give at least a 24 hour notice when ordering sod.

Q: Do you do sod installation?
A: Green Velvet does not offer installation services. However, we do deliver (call for delivery quotes) and would be happy to refer you to one of our recommended landscapers that provide installation services in your area.

Q: Are there major differences in preparing a yard for sod or seed?
A: Most experts agree that soil preparation is a major factor in the success of a lawn, whether it’s seeded or sodded. Basically, there are no significant differences in preparing the area. These would include tilling the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches, removing any debris, rocks, etc., and having the soil tested. As called for by the soil and tests, incorporate the nutrients and other amendments and then ensure the planting bed is free of water-holding depressions or other areas that don’t conform to the desired finished grade.

Q: Is time of year an important factor for establishing a lawn?
A: Experience has shown that seeded lawns do best when planted in the fall or spring because of less competition with weeds and other pests. Turfgrass sod can be installed at anytime according to most growers and this would include placing it on frozen ground, if the sod is available.

Q: I know what grass seed is, but precisely, what is sod?
A: Turfgrass sod is a strip of mature grass, cultivated from seed or sprigs/stolons by a sod producer for up to 2 years. The strip will consist of mature grass, its actively growing roots, a very thin layer of soil and some thatch. Usually quoted in sizes of square feet or yards, a common size strip would be 18-inches wide and 6-feet long, equal to 1 square yard. The strip may be folded or rolled in longer pieces or sold flat in short pieces. Once harvested on the farm, it will require transplanting in 12-48 hours, depending on heat and humidity, before the quality begins to deteriorate.

Q: How quickly can a new lawn be used by an active family?
A: Many new varieties of seed germinate within a few days, providing the beginning appearance of a lawn within a week or 2, but experts still suggest that the homeowner must give the lawn a couple of months to establish itself to take the wear and tear of family life.

Sod will look like a mature lawn the day it’s installed, but it too needs some establishment time, usually a week or 2. Once the sod pieces are thoroughly rooted into the existing soil, it’s ready for regular use.

Q: Does sod or seed lawn establishment require more water?
A: You could spread seed across a yard and never water it, where sod would die within a couple of days without water when it’s installed. To that extent, seed would use the least amount of applied water, but in a one-on-one equal comparison, sod will require less water than seed to establish a lawn.

Turfgrass research scientists advise that new turf seedings should be watered lightly, daily to keep the soil surface moist at all times for 3 to 4 weeks. They recommend new sod should be watered initially to a soil depth of 6 inches and then light, daily waterings for 2 to 3 weeks. Thus, on the day the seed is planted, or the sod installed, the same amount of water would be required. The differences start to accumulate in the following weeks.

Q: Why does seeding require more water than sod after the first day?
A: Dark, moist soil reflects less incoming solar radiation than grass surfaces, so greater amounts of moisture are lost to evaporation on seeded yards than sodded lawns. Without a plant canopy, water evaporates and is no longer available to the grass seed, whereas the canopy provided by the sod grass blades significantly reduce evaporation, leaving more moisture available to the grass plant’s firm establishment. To maintain soil moisture at the 4 to 6 inch level, more water must be applied to the seeded soil than the sodded lawn.

Q: Won’t a mulch, such as straw, help hold the moisture on a seeded areas?
A: Yes. Mulches will reduce water losses to evaporation and encourage warmer soil temperatures as well; however, the seed/mulch combination will still take more water than sod. Care must also be taken in selecting mulches to avoid the introduction of weed and coarse grass seeds that will compete with desirable lawn seeds.

Q: Can you give me an example of how much difference in water use we’re talking about in comparing seed to sod? Is it really that significant?
A: The potential for extremes is very great in such a question, particularly because of conditions such as weather and soil conditions. Thus, any generalized information must be considered just that; general. In one series of tests for example, new seeding used between 2,250 to 4,125 gallons of water per month, while new sod installations in the same areas used from 1,440 to 2,625 gallons per month. The sodded lawn conserved between 800 and 1,500 gallons of water, a 57% saving over the seeded area.

Q: When does a seeded lawn become as water-use efficient as a sodded lawn?
A: So far, there is no real answer to that question. While it would seem that once the seeded lawn was established, had a thatch layer and developed root structure, it would match the efficiency of sod, that may not be the case. On-going studies at a major university are showing that the open soil of newly seeded yards is actually compacted by rainfall and irrigation. Even after 2 to 3 years, it will not allow water to penetrate the surface as readily as a sodded area. When the water won’t penetrate, it runs off, or must be watered on a slower schedule to allow for proper deep watering.