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Sand or Muck

Discussion in 'Florida Lawn Care Forum' started by Landscape Poet, Jan 29, 2011.


Which base do you prefer to use on sod installs?

Poll closed Feb 18, 2011.
  1. I prefer Muck Based Sod.

    5 vote(s)
  2. I prefer Sand Based Sod.

    1 vote(s)
  3. I do not care I go with what is cheapest!

    0 vote(s)
  1. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    This is topic of debate that myself and another LCO have had numerous times in the past few months. So what are your preferences when installing sod, sand or much base? If you would please include why you prefer one over the other.
  2. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969

    Muck comes from the center of the state in my case and cost move to haul the distances. Strike one for Muck

    Sand has no real chemical Holding power. Strike one for sand

    Sand has no WATER holding Power. Strike Two for sand.

    Sand falls a part as you handle It. Strike Three for sand and it's out.

    Muck laid on our sand establishes quicker because of the Water & Chemical holding power. The Old theory that the roots will not leave the muck and grow deeper is false on sand because the Muck SOM does leach into the sand carrying the roots with it. However Muck roots might not establish as deep as quick as sand sod. Sand root will follow water and chemicals down immediately because the sand can not hold the Water & Chemicals.

    I want Muck Sod and feel it is the better of the two.
  3. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,359

    I'll take my sod with the darkest, heaviest muck base I can. It will probably be sitting on 99.99% sand anyways. More work to handle but well worth it.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,979

    I'll take muck most of the time. It's usually way lighter, and easier to handle. I only like sand in part-sun areas that have a tendency to stay damp.
  5. rob7233

    rob7233 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 873


    You know my position. I'd rather handle muck based. Now muck based is a man made blend made to be lighter in order to transport larger loads for less.
    Years ago, we got muck based from Duda which had been grow in the previous celery fields locations(the stuff was black gold)!

    Ric did a nice job summing up the pros and cons. Are you convinced yet ??!!
    In your poll, 75% of the viewers prefer muck over sand based...:hammerhead:
  6. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    I agree ric did a good job summing up the pros and cons. Sand is usually the cheapest in OUR location - and usually - well at least when Sod King is in operation has some the best looking sod on a consistant basis.
    Another point is that while ric points out that the muck base does better with chemical and water retention which I am sure helps lower his cost - not all clients lawns are chemically treated programs. It has been my experience that sand adapts quicker when going on a location which is sandy to start with. It also seems to experience less fungus issue during the hot humid part of the season most ho want their install done.I am thinking this is the customer not paying attention to the needs of the sod but rather just waering the heck out if and the sand base obviously retains less of the water applied. I know you have had a recent experience with this with the client who overwatered and craeted the weed issue.
    As ric pointed out there are several key points that great about muck and I am not opposed to it by any means, and it does handle better for sure as well as adding OM to our soil which is needed.
    I will see how the relationship with the company that my pco suggested to us on the last job develops. It was far superior to that of the other place we used for those jobs
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    IMHO Fungus issues on sod have more to do with how wet it was when cut and how long it stays on the pallet. I have seen more fungus on Sand than on Muck Sod. But only because people don't respect sand like they do Muck.

    Back when I had the big show, I would bring left over Sod back to my nursery and spread it out on Black Ground cloth. I would then either sell it in pieces or use it for other jobs. The shelve life of sod spread on Black Ground Cloth is well over a month as long as you keep it watered. I think the reason more people don't try and save sod is they don't have the space or the desire at the end of the day to throw more sod before going home. I didn't put two kid through college and one through Medical school throwing money away. BTW Many of the take out plants from re-landscapes were a great money maker. 3 gallon material I could buy for $ 3.75 but Mature plants of size sell for big bucks.
  8. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    Thanks for your insight. There are periods where it does not seem to matter if you are looking at sand or muck...they will both appear to have fungus on them. I am leaning more towards muck but as I stated above, the supplier I currently have the best working relationship with as well as consistently has the best looking sod offers only sand based. His cultivator selection is another reason that I might look elsewhere as he only offers Floratam - which I really do feel is best for most of my jobs - but it is a hassle to go change up suppliers on jobs where I need a shade tolerant cultivator too.

  9. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    Just this last Wednesday I took Fl-landscape to see my old neighbor and Mechanic who lived next door to my nursery. Fl landscape needed some work done and my old neighbor is a jam up mechanic who literal has a machine Shop in his Garage. If he can't buy a part he makes it. There is a nursery on the same spot but the road between our two properties is in dis-repair after 6 1/2 years. The irrigation stand pipes on my buddy's property were still there also in great dis repair. Yes space is important and my mechanic buddy let me use about two acres of his property.

    I had a Wholesale nursery with 600 ft of road frontage and was about to open it retail when Hurricane Charlie decided to do a re-landscape. I lost my Butt because Crop insurance is not an affordable opposition. What I will tell you is Landscape install is the Highest Margin in the green industry. Having a PLANT HOLDING YARD is a must to do install work. I will also tell you I didn't have the talent to do WOW Factor Landscape Designs which is what it takes to be a successful installer. But Both my children had that talent. I had only to correct their designs for agronomics making sure not to mix a full oasis Plant with a drought tolerant plant etc etc. I was 64 years old when I watched Hurricane Charlie blow away a life time of work. Since my children were not interested in the green industry instead of rebuilding I sold what was left of my company to my Employees.
  10. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    I am sorry to hear about you experiencing this Ric. I know that part of the business can be a very rewarding one. It is apparent that you can make a fortune from it when you go to a nursery like the one that is close to my house and they sell for 50 to 100% more than the wholesalers do. And there are guys around here that will buy there, install and still turn a killing.

    There are many nurseries around here that you can tell the economy has did a number on, so maybe Charlie was a blessing in disguise, as you are fortunate to have a successful operation now.

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