What are some of the benefits of a well-maintained healthy lawn?
Nothing helps beautify a neighborhood like a gorgeously green lawn. It creates a relaxing space of natural beauty. Grassy areas quickly affect people's moods by creating feelings of serenity, privacy, thoughtfulness or happiness. Its yearly cycles of growth and color changes, lift human spirits and link urban inhabitants with their countryside heritage. That aside, front lawns of just eight average houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons of air conditioning, while the average home-size central air unit has only a 3-4 ton capacity.
While strict conservationists berate the lowly lawn as an expensive consumer of natural resources, it is actually a natural provider for our ecosystem. Healthy, dense lawns absorb rainfall six times more effectively than a wheat field, four times better than a hay field, and prevents runoff and erosion of our precious top soil. It also traps much of the estimated 12 million tons of dust and dirt released into the US atmosphere annually. Lawns also purify water entering into underground aquifers–its root mass and soil microbes act as a filter to capture and breakdown many types of pollutants.
In addition, a nice lawn increases real estate market value and salability. A Gallup Survey reported 62% of all US homeowners felt investment in lawns and landscaping was as good or better than other home improvements. The investment recovery rate is 100-200% for landscape improvement, compared to a deck or patio that will recover 40-70% of installation cost. Proper and well maintained landscaping adds 15% to a home's value according to buyers.
Here's a bit of trivia: recovery rates among hospitalized patients are often quicker when their rooms view a landscaped area compared to patients with non-landscaped views.
A beautiful lawn has it's saftey merrits for loved ones as well. Playing fields covered with dense turf have proven safer, as demonstrated by a simple egg drop test. When a dozen raw eggs were dropped from a height of 11 feet onto a two-inch thick piece of dense turf, none broke; two thirds broke on thin turf from that height, and from just 18 inches, all broke on an all-weather track!
Soil Preparation Similar to Sowing Procedures
Sod should be planted on a well-prepared soil that is made ready in the same way as if you would drill the grass. The soil preparation should result in a soil which is fit for cultivation, smooth, free from weeds, tufts of grass, quack grass, rocks and other disturbing elements. It might show necessary to grub the area as if the soil structure is too compact. Plough, rotate or dig the area depending on the size of the area. Then you should cultivate the area with a harrow or a rake to level it totally.
The soil should not be to loose forcing it to slump. Packing the soil is therefore of great importance also because all irregularities in the soil will show also after the sod has been planted. When placing the sod next to paths etc., please remember to take into consideration the thickness of the sod (approx. 2 cm).
Apply Stater fertilizer - Distribute the Starter fertilizer evenly over prepared area, by hand or using a "spreader" style applicator. Avoid applying under windy conditions. Follow directions on bag for best results.
Irrigation Before Planting the Sod
Being very dry, the soil must be irrigated thoroughly about 24 hours before planting the sod. It is difficult to have the underlying soil moist after having planted the sod, and if not sufficiently moist, the growing layer will absorb all moisture from the sod. Do not water it the same day as the grass is delivered or you top layer will turn to mud.
Storing Sod in Shade and under Shelter
The sod is a perishable product. It will soon rotten when stored in hot temperatures i.e. more than 15 degrees C. For this reason you should plant the sod immediately upon receiving it. The pallets of sod to be used last, you must store in shade and under shelter to minimise drying and heating. If the sod roles look dry, you should give them a light shower.
Planting the Sod in Stagger
Your work will be easier if you start planting the roles from the longest straight borderline and then work your way out from there. If you plant the grass sods in stagger, the connections will not show significantly. The end cuttings can easily be formed with a spade or knife. A driveway could be established by placing plates atop on the already planted grass. Avoid traffic with heavy equipment on the grass right after planting.
Contact Between Soil and Grass Roots
The turf will easily establish its roots into the soil as long as there is a good contact between the sod and the soil. In this connection, a gentle rolling could be beneficial. Large heavy rollers must be avoided as they do more harm than good. You should roll the lawn immediately after having planted the grass and before irrigating the lawn for the first time.
Let the Grass Rest
Keep traffic away from the lawn for two to three weeks. The grass needs time to establish.
Irrigation is a Must
Generously irrigating is necessary to obtain a good result. You must water immediately after having planted the grass and rolled it. The grass and the soil underneath it must be kept moist continuously until the grass has fully established.
The amount of water to be used depends on the weather conditions. Be aware that in hot and windy weather the drying of the grass will proceed surprisingly fast. We recommend as a guideline to irrigate with 1" – 2" water twice a day in the beginning for two weeks, then gradually expand the span between the days concurrently with the establishment of the grass roots. Bear in mind that the soil must be kept moist in the total period until the grass has established.
Connections Filled with Topdressing
Having planted the sod, minor gaps etc. can be filled with a topdressing of 0–2 mm sand, preferably with more than 70% coarse sand or mould mixed with sand which is similar to the topsoil of the area. 4–5 mm of top-dressing is often sufficient. It is recommendable to use a drag net to level the layer and get the sand into the connections. This topdressing should be applied immediately after planting and with light equipment.
Mowing in 3–5 cm Height
You should mow the grass as usual. A cutting height of 3–5 cm is preferable. You should never cut more than 1/3 of the total grass height in one mowing.
Fertilising after Three Weeks
Three weeks after having planted the sod, it is recommended that you fertilise the lawn with 2–3 kg of NPK-fertiliser (16-4-12)* per 100 m2 or a similar fertiliser product. This fertilisation should be repeated after 6–8 weeks.
* 16% Nitrogen, 4% Phosphate, 12% Potassium.
Postpone Vertical Cutting
You should wait about two months for the grass to be well established before giving the lawn a vertical cutting. When well established the vertical cutting is done as usual when the grass is in good growth in April/May or August/September.
Guidelines to Avoid Problems
The turf does not establish its roots:
In 10 days the turf will establish new white roots. If not, you must check if the lawn needs to be irrigated. Turf laying in the shade will strike roots very slowly – perhaps not at all. For this reason, we do not recommend to plant turf on areas exposed to total shade.
Brown or grey-blue spots:
Fungus diseases can attack turf, however, in most of the cases the spots on recently planted turf is caused by lack of moisture.
A number of mushrooms will create fruit bodies (toadstools) in late summer where temperature and humidity conditions are suitable. If you find other mushrooms in the lawn, they should be identified in order to decide their toxicity.