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>Do-it-Yourself: Laying Sod

from: Lawn and Garden Magic

For many landscapers, there is nothing better than the instant gratification that comes with having an instant lawn. After all, when a lawn is seeded, it takes quite a while to grow. On the other hand, laying sod is an excellent way to get an instant grassy and lush yard, and it's quite possible to lay the sod yourself. Laying sod isn't very difficult to do, but it does require planning and some hard work. However, if you plan wisely and work well, you will likely save a great deal of money rather than having someone else lay the sod for you.

The first thing you will need to do is to prepare the dirt area for the sod. You should, of course, already have the sod on order to be delivered or picked up, so that you can lay it as soon as the ground is ready. This is important becasue if you have the sod delivered before preparations are complete, it will rot if it sits in the sun for too long before you begin laying it. So, prepare your yard by performing any necessary soil enhancements to bring the pH in line with what the sod requires. The soil should already be tilled and you should do a final rake or drag of the area to ensure that it's level and that all large pebbles, rocks and sticks are removed from the area. Moisten the soil, but don't make it muddy or soggy. If you plan to have an irrigation or sprinkler system, make sure that it's in place before you lay your sod.

Sod comes in either rolls or rectangles or squares. Regardless, it's a good idea to begin by laying the sod against a straight line. A sidewalk, driveway or flowerbed against the side of the house makes an excellent guide. As you unroll each new length of sod or fit in each piece, press the edges together. Don't overlap them, but do try to manually "knit" them together so there are no visible spaces between pieces of sod. You should stagger the locations of joints so that there isn't a line of sod pieces showing the length of the yard. Staggering will give the sodded lawn an appearance of being more naturally grown.

Using an inexpensive carpet knife will help you as you lay your sod around more oddly shaped or rounded areas. Even though you start along a straight edge, few yards are completely uniform in their shape. You can cut pieces of sod to fit around fixtures, trees and sprinkler heads. You should work from one end of the yard to another, but in a way that avoids having to walk on the laid sod until after it's  been rolled.

After the sod is fully laid, you should use a lawn roller on your sod. These can be rented at reasonable rates. The roller is specially designed to help sodded lawns take better root. It forces the roots to make positive contact with the soil below, encouraging better knitting. You should also water your new lawn every day for the first week (except, of course, on rainy days) and a couple of times a day if the weather is especially hot.

After the first week, gradually begin stretching out the times between watering, as this encourages the roots to grow downward, seeking moisture deeper in the soil. However, make sure you water deeply. Fertilizer can be applied at intervals throughout the season and you should begin a regular mowing schedule three to four weeks after first laying the sod.

If you take good care of your new lawn, it should flourish and you'll achieve faster results than seeding the lawn and waiting for it to grow. Additionally, if you take care to conscientiously prepare your soil and carefully lay your sod, there is no reason you can't enjoy one of the best lawns in your neighborhood. Finally, be sure to properly care for the sod after it's laid to ensure the roots firmly house themselves in your soil and to prevent the sun from drying out and killing your brand new lawn.

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Gardening Landscape Worcestershire News

YoungHort: meet the young gardeners doing it for themselves

A group of enterprising young gardeners has started a new forum, YoungHort, to share their ideas. Paula McWaters attended their first conference and saw a very green future