How To Maintain Turfgrass Sod
Tips from the NSGA on maintaining your turfgrass sod.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.