Installing natural turfgrass sod will enhance the beauty and environment surrounding your property — and careful, regular maintenance will ensure that you reap the long-term benefits.

The Nursery Sod Growers Association is pleased to provide you with some tips to help you maintain your turfgrass sod.

Feeding Your Lawn

When feeding your lawn, the amount of fertilizer that you should use will vary depending on the fertility of the natural soil, the degree of growth you want, and the type of grass that you are growing.

Tip: Bluegrass requires 2 to 3 kilograms of nitrogen, 1 to 1.5 kilograms of phosphorous, and the same of potassium per 1076 sq. ft. per year.

  • Fertilizer applications are determined by the amount of nitrogen they contain.
  • We recommend any special turf fertilizer made by a reputable manufacturer, using a controlled release nitrogen. This will provide you with well-balanced feeding for your lawn and ensure the fertilizer will release slowly.
  • You should apply approximately half the annual amount in the spring, and the remaining half in the early summer and fall. Be sure to follow the instructions on the bag.
  • Always water the fertilizer in to prevent burning.

Mowing Your Lawn

Mowing is one of the most important steps in maintaining your lawn. Proper mowing will make a good lawn look better, while improper mowing can ruin a good lawn in just a few weeks.

Tip: We recommend mowing Bluegrasses and Fescues at a height of 1.5 inches. You can determine the height of your mower blade by placing it on a driveway or sidewalk, and measuring the distance between the blade and the ground.

  • The most important point to remember is to keep the mower blades sharp. Nothing defaces grass more quickly than a dull mower.
  • Remove all objects from the lawn before you mow, to prevent injury to others, and to prevent damage to the mower.
  • Don’t let your lawn grow so tall that it falls over. If it’s too long, it will be difficult to mow and it will smother out.
  • Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf height at any one time.
  • Remove clippings that clump so that they don’t smother the grass.

Watering Your Lawn

In the summertime, lawns generally require about 1 inch of water every week.

Bluegrass will go dormant during dry seasons, which means that the grass may turn brown. It will turn green again when it is watered.

Tip: Water regularly. Apply 1 inch every week (including rain) at one setting of the sprinkler. Water evenly and slowly enough in order that the water is able to penetrate the sod without run-off.

Too much water can be just as harmful as too little. Soil that is continually soaked does not allow air to reach the root zone where it’s required. Avoid frequent light waterings, which will result in shallow rooting.

Controlling Disease

Healthy turf will withstand infestation and recover faster than neglected turf. Here are some tips for achieving healthy turf:

Tips:

  • Use enough fertilizer to keep grass growing vigorously, but avoid the extreme of over-stimulation.
  • Mow before the grass gets too tall.
  • Cut no more than 1/3 of the leaf height at any one time.
  • Keep your mower sharp.
  • Don’t allow clippings to accumulate to the extent that they form a mat.
  • Remove thatch as required.
  • Avoid frequent waterings, which tend to keep the grass wet.

Relieving Compacted Turf

Soil compaction is a problem which develops naturally under many conditions. Heavy soils and heavy traffic zones are particularly subject to compaction. If soil is trampled, especially when it is wet, compaction will very likely occur. Relieving compaction, without excessive injury to grass plants, requires the use of an aerator.

Aerators have prongs, or knives, which pierce the sod to a depth of 2 to 2.75 inches. In some cases, they will have hollow tines that extract plugs of soil. In either case, the effect is to open up or ‘aerate’ the soil to allow water, air, and nutrients to reach the turf roots.

Tip: We recommend giving your lawn the benefits of aeration by calling your landscaper or garden centre for information on lawn care services, or by contacting a rental company to find an appropriate aeration unit.

The beautiful results achieved from aeration, combined with the savings realized in water and fertilizer, will easily justify the cost.

Renovating Worn Turf

Turf renovation using vertical mowers and aerators is a common practice for turf landscaping.

Tip: Since roots grow best in the fall and early spring, loosened soil and fertilizer are needed most at these times to encourage turf growth.

Fall renovation is an ideal time to renew or rejuvenate turf that has been abused, but is still in reasonably good shape.

Best practice calls for continuous maintenance, in order to prevent deterioration to the extent that the turf requires renovation. Recommended maintenance would include: elimination of compaction, application of fertilizer and moisture (as required), and weed control practices.

Thatch Control

Thatch is the accumulation of old leaves, clippings, stems, roots, and other organic material, which has failed to decay in your turf.

Thatch sheds water rather than letting it percolate into the grass root zone, and it may harbour fungus and other diseases, as well as insect and other pests. It may also make fertilizer applications ineffective.

Tip: Vigorous raking can help to abate thatch. We recommend using a self-propelled powered vertical mower with hardened steel blades, rather than manual raking.

Using a powered mower will cut out the thatch and thin matted growth. If desired, you can set the blades low enough to touch the soil; the scarifying action is an ideal pre-seeding treatment for bare or thin areas that require overseeding.

Controlling Insects

It is important to recognize and abate insects quickly, before they do too much damage to your turf.

Tip: A common insect that you should watch for is the white grub. Grubs live in the soil under the grass. If you suspect their presence in your lawn, remove a block of sod and count the grubs. If you have as many as five per square foot, we recommend that you treat your lawn with nematodes.

We recommend watching for the following:

  • The sod webworm is a lively, brown worm about 3/4 of an inch in length that feeds on grass and causes it to turn brown.
  • Chinch bugs are small black insects about 3/4 of an inch in length that suck the juices from the grass plant. The damage shows large irregular yellowish-brown patches, usually along the edge of a sidewalk, curb or foundation.

Controlling Weeds

The best weed control is good, healthy turf. When your lawn is healthy and dense, weeds will have no room to get started. If you are in process of renovating your lawn, or if you have an established lawn that has experienced a lapse in maintenance, weeds may intrude.

For guidance in caring for your turfgrass sod, connect with your local turfgrass sod producer.