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putting down sod

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by superintendent, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. superintendent

    superintendent LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 394

    I have a big lawn I'm giving and estimate for. The layout of the lawn is good but the grass needs to be taking out before the sod is laid down. I don't have a harley rake and can't find one to rent around here. I was going to spray the yard several times with round-up and then take a dethatcher to it several times and if there is alot of dead grass I was going to rake it up and haul off then lay the sod. Is this what yall would do or am I missing something. Thanks
  2. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,440

    You don't have to remove the old grass. Cut it as low as it will go with a mower (scalp it) and top dress it with new soil and broadcast spread some starter fertilizer.

    You can lay the new sod right over top. The old grass will decompose. We do this quite often.

    It works well unless the new turf will be too high next to a driveway or sidewalk or some-thing. In which case, you can dig the edges lower next to the walkway and have the new turf taper downwards a bit.

    You should remove perennial weeds before you do this.

    Or, you can rent a harley rake and spray glyphosate

    I like to work smarter, not harder.
  3. Landrus2

    Landrus2 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,812

    Is there a sprinkler system in place :waving:
  4. superintendent

    superintendent LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 394

    Yes there is
  5. Landrus2

    Landrus2 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,812

    Make sure you mark all them before you run Harley rake
  6. edensgate7

    edensgate7 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 142

    Our Canadian friend's procedure is correct providing a few very critical details are not overlooked.

    1: find out why the grass that is there is not doing well. There is no bigger mistake than laying 1000s of dollars in sod without doing your research first. Was the problem lack of water, too much heat, soil issues etc.? correct these problems before wasting alot of money getting in a hurry.

    2: make sure you do a soil test first to make sure your pH and such is normal (pH of 6.7-7.3 is normal). Add any lacking amendments or nutriets according to the results of soil test. this step is cheap insurance that can help prevent problems with establishment/long term growth of the sod.
    3: Make sure the soil under the existing grass is not compacted and there is less than 3/4 inch of thatch. otherwise, the sod will not root down well and will not have good contact with good soil. If thach is more than this, go ahead with your original procedure to get rid of the thatch problem and then proceed with fert and sod. if compacted, run over the dead scalped grass with a core areator at least three times (leaving the cores behind) to break up the compaction since you don't have a harley rake available. Either way, The existing soil needs to be disturbed in some way before you put anything new on top.

    4: if you do choose to topdress the area after all other prep is done, DO NOT JUST BROADCAST A THIN LAYER(LESS THAN 6-8 IN) OF BLACK DIRT!!!! This creates a layer which the sod will love the first year or two but will never root down past it in future seasons. A quality long-term turf stand needs to have a UNIFORM LAYER of soil at least 6-8 inches deep in order to have an adequate soil profile to provide consistent deep rooting as well as moisture and nutrient avaiablity to the new sod. Any smaller layers will not force the roots to go downward and will leave short roots with limited nutirient and water uptake ability in future seasons.

    Hope this helps and you can find more info at university extension offices (U of Kentucky, Michigan ST, Purdue, Ohio ST. Penn ST. etc.). All these have good turf programs with websites full of publications.
  7. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 812

    Find a bobcat service near you to prepare the soil for you. There is nothing worse than laying on top of dead grass. Have it prepared properly. If it is a small area, you might get by with scalping the lawn and removing debris, then tilling, rolling and raking out, but don't just lay the new sod on top of the dead stems without turning the soil and collecting as much debris as you can. Will it be the same species of grass or different? If I change species I spend more time preparing than if I'm just renewing. Also, have you taken a soil sample to be tested? Is the shade a problem, etc?? If the current grass is not doing well, there is a reason for it---be it cultural practices, lack of attention, shade, wash out and drainage issue, lack of water, or soil issues. Know what you are correcting before you attempt to correct it is the best advice I can offer.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    Bobcats sure do a quick job, don't they? One of those babies will have that lawn as smooth as a parking lot in no time... as especially on heavier clay loams soils, just about as hard and compacted... :)

    How many pounds/ square inch of pressure do you like to apply to the future root zone of the soil in your area, in order to consider it "prepared properly" ??

    What I've learned from experience is that 10 years of pluggling and topdressing doesn't do anything for a lawn compacted in such a way. Water saturates the grass and evaporates from there. Some compacted lawns never allow water to perculate even in the Spring we find dry layers of dirt when planting shrubs etc.

    My advice would be to go "upscale" and properly prepare the bed and charge for it. Maybe you think tillers are for suckers, but a properly prepared soils, are necessary for properly managed lawns in the future. :)
  9. Leo the Landscaper

    Leo the Landscaper LawnSite Member
    Posts: 116

    I agree with Andy, do not lay sod on top of scalped dead grass. You will end up with one very shallow rooted turf. Remove the old lawn and make sure you are laying sod on soil and not scalped dead grass.
  10. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 812

    The guy that does my preparations uses a tracked machine to do the rough grade and harley rake. We then till the soil, roll and rake out. Have several hundred pallets behind me, and all of them have deep roots and as good of drainage as you can have in clay soils.

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