Own your turf: what you need to know about sod

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In the Northeast corridor, the best time to re-turf your landscape is now.

In the late summer and early fall, temperatures get cooler and the humidity steadily increases. These two factors are necessary for the successful installation and ongoing health of new turf. While we may think the spring season is the best time to think about next summer’s lawn, September and October are the real months for sod installation.

“Sod can’t be installed on frozen ground,” said Chip Bunch, owner of Shan-Gri-La Sod Farm in Perkasie, PA, who tells EP Henry he’s been “playing in the dirt [his] whole life.” In the spring, a slow thaw of the top soil and frequent overnight frosts make for an unfriendly environment for new sod. “The fall typically gets more rain, which makes caring for the new turf easier,” said Mr. Bunch.

  

In terms of ease of care, the species of grass is also very important. Some grasses are sturdy, and some are meant to be more aesthetically pleasing. “The most durable type of sod for a home lawn [in our area] is a blend,” said Mr. Bunch. Shan-Gri-La Sod Farm, started by Mr. Bunch’s parents in 1967, grows and installs a “tall fescue” variety of grass, in a blend of 90% fescue and 10% Kentucky Bluegrass. This blend yields a strong grass with a nice green-to-dark-green color. Fescue is the grass species most commonly found on sports fields, lawns, and pastures for livestock animals. It can take sun or shade. It’s hearty stuff.

Mr. Bunch prefers the blend because it’s drought tolerant, disease resistant and lower-maintenance. It’s great for high-use areas like backyards. “A 100% Kentucky Bluegrass would be appropriate only for spaces that experience no foot traffic,” Mr. Bunch said. According to Mr. Bunch’s website, Kentucky Bluegrass is a “fine and dense grass” that’s great for areas where a meticulous appearance is the main concern. Break out those “do not walk on the grass” signs if you plan on installing it.

Sod is good for lawns, but what about driveways? “You can’t lay sod down on a driveway,” said Mr. Bunch. “The cars would leave tread marks in the spring when the ground gets really soft.” While sod has your lawn covered, EP Henry has some great “green” options for the driveway. Check out our permeable paver systems and how they can absorb more rainwater and help the environment. See EP Henry’s Eco-Pavers page for more information, and visit shangrilafarm.com for more information about laying new turf on your landscape.