Why Do Turfgrass Sod Farms Have Beautiful Lawns?

            “How do you grow such beautiful grass?” is the first question asked by visitors to turfgrass sod farms.  It’s acre after acre of fabulous grass so uniform you could bowl on it.  Then, you return home and look at your own yard and wonder what you can do to have a beautiful and healthy lawn. To reveal the “secrets of their success,” the Lawn Institute contacted a number of leading turf producers and received the following insights and unique tips to growing a fabulous lawn:      “Cheap seed is the most expensive seed you can buy!  Judging seed by its price tag is a great recipe for disaster.  Homeowners should take the time to select the right turf varieties for their area, using the best quality of sod or seed possible.  If it’s seed, look at the tag and see how much weed seed, crop seed and inert matter is in the bag.  If the variety line says ‘VNS’ it means ‘variety not stated.’ It could contain anything, but probably not quality seed.  If you start your lawn with problem seed, you’ll fight a problem lawn forever.” “Core aeration is the key to your lawn’s deep roots and long life.  It should be done every year, with a hollow tine core aerator, run in two or three directions.  So long as the soil is moist enough to allow extraction of two to three inch cores, aeration can be done any time of the year but Spring is ideal because the lawn hasn’t yet been stressed.  When you’re done aerating, leave the cores, they will break up and return to the soil.  The new holes give plants room to breath and allow the roots to go deeper, as thatch decomposition is hastened.”

Randy Tischer

Green Velvet Sod Farms

Bellbrook, OH

“Moderate temperatures and moderate moisture are key factors for improving the benefits of lawn care herbicides or insecticides.  Most plants and insects tend to ‘close down’ or become inactive during times of extreme heat, cold, moisture or drought.” 

Ben Copeland, Sr.

Patten Seed/Super Sod

Lakeland, GA

            “Raise mowing heights for the peak of summer and the depth of winter.  Longer leaf surfaces help to protect the grass plants.  In the summer they reduce soil-moisture loss.  In the winter they provide insulation.  For cool-season grasses this probably means a maximum cutting height of 3 to 3 ˝ inches.” If your lawn looks like it’s dying a day or two after you’ve mowed it, check your mower blades, they might need sharpening.  A sharp blade cleanly cuts the grass blade, leaving only a minor opening that heals quickly.  However, a dull blade shreds the grass blades so that upon close examination, the ends look like frayed material.  This frayed end turns brown, giving the appearance that the lawn is dying.  It’s not, but it sure is suffering.  Sharpen the blade.” If you ever have an oil spill on your grass; maybe your lawn mower leaks or someone parked on your lawn and oil leaked, Coke or Pepsi may be the answer.  Old-timers tell us that as soon as you notice the damage, pour a gallon of Coke or Pepsi (not the diet variety because you want the sugar content), into a hose-end or pump-up sprayer; spray the soft-drink with mild pressure on the oily surface and then water heavily.  Apparently, the carbonated drink breaks down the soil and the sugars help the plant and soil microbes revive.  The lawn may suffer some damage, but it could come back.”

Doug Barberry

Aldino Sod Farms, Inc.

Churchville, MD