What is The Turfgrass Sod - Main Feautures

What is The Turfgrass Sod - Turfgrass Sod Rolls
Turfgrass Sod Rolls

The turfgrass sod for home lawns has been for years, the proven alternative to the direct sowing of varieties and mixtures (blends) of varieties of mainly grassy plants in the soil of urban or holiday homes, as well as that of commercial areas, to create attractive lawns.

Among the many advantages of the sodding, the best is that of the immediate transformation of the garden with the completion of the laying of the turf rolls, when for the same result with the method of direct sowing it can take up to two months.

Of course, as so often happens, there is also the downside of turfgrass sod, in which its purchase cost is prominent.

But all this and more (such as the characteristics, certification, specifications, and forms of the turfgrass sod) is discussed later in the article, for which the impartial reader is called, regardless of whether will read it or not, to judge it objectively as positive and complete, and to spread it at its own expense to the ends of the internet.

The cultivation of the turfgrass sod is done in organized farms, with high know-how and special equipment.

Sod Farming in Ontario, Canada - Image by NT Franklin
Sod Farming in Ontario, Canada - Image by NT Franklin
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What is The Turfgrass Sod

The turfgrass sod is grass created from the seed of one or more species, cultivars and varieties suitable for this purpose, which has been sown, cultivated and grown in nursery sod fields.

The turfgrass sod, after a few months, is suitable for distribution, and with special machines can be harvested from the field with minimal soil and cut into strips, packed and transported.

Its production requires high level of know-how, special equipment and machinery, while the soils to be cultivated should be free of at least difficult to eradicate weeds.

What is The Turfgrass Sod – Main Feautures

Main Characteristics of the Turfgrass Sod

The main characteristics of the turfgrass sod (… as estimated by the editorial team of "Kalliergeia") a fortiori are two:

  • The speed
  • And its adaptability

Speed refers to the fact that both its layering immediately produces an aesthetic effect, and that the establishment of the plants that composed it is faster – compared to sowing – since within 15 to 20 days, their root system has sufficient developed in the new environment.

Adaptability is related to its applicability in soils whose surface does not have a significant slope up to those that have large slopes and are at immediate risk of erosion.

Its adaptability is also related to the lengthening of the time window for the creation of lawn, since it can be installed when, respectively, the conditions for sowing are not at all favorable or are even prohibitive.

What is The Turfgrass Sod – Main Feautures

Advantages of Sod

The use of turfgrass sod has significant advantages. Immediately below follows the recording of most of them.

Immediate Result

Depending on the area it will cover, the lawn can be created even within a few hours. In this way, the needs of instant promotion of an aesthetically pleasing image are met, facilitating professionals and individuals for a series of events such as inauguration, birthday, etc.

Fast Establishment

Under normal conditions, the sod become established within 15 to 20 days, since that is about the time it takes for the root system to grow adequately in the subsoil. Immediately after, it is delivered for full use as normal lawn traffic, having the ability to withstand stress and adversity.

Extension of the Installation Time

While the sowing of varieties or mixtures of grass is limited exclusively to the proper time for their germination and growth in the growing season, the proper time for the installation of the turfgrass sod is almost anytime, as it takes place all the year except the periods when very high temperatures occure and / or when ground is icy.

Coverage of Large Slope Areas

The turfgrass sod can be installed on sloping surfaces such that it is not susceptible to sowing. This overcomes the difficulties of the terrain (rising grounds, glacises, etc.), and protects soil areas from erosion.

Weed Control

The instant coverage of the soil results in the satisfactory control of the seeds of the weeds of the subsoil, but also of the seeds that will be transferred (eg from the wind) after the installation of the sod.

What is The Turfgrass Sod – Main Feautures

What is The Turfgrass Sod - Pallets with Sod Pieces
What is The Turfgrass Sod - Pallets with Sod Pieces

Disadvantages of Sod

Because by the time these lines are written, nothing in this world is perfect, and the turfgrass sod has some drawbacks. The most important of these are listed immediately below.

High Purchase Cost

To cover the same garden area or other areas, buying turfgrass sod is clearly more expensive than buying seed.

High Installation Cost

The wages that will be given for sodding, for the installation of the turfgrass sod are much more than the corresponding ones for the seeding of the lawn. In addition, the cost may increase if there are failures and there is a need for professional installers with skilled labor.

Short Transplanting Time

Once the sod has been harvested from the nursery field until it is installed in garden or other areas, it should not usually take more than 24 hours. Otherwise, if this time limit is exceeded, the turfgrass sod is unsuitable for use.

Transplantation in Different Conditions

Essentially, the transporting and laying of the sod is a process of transplanting plants that have grown in different soil-climatic environments from those in which they will be installed. The shock of transplantation and the failures due to it are always an unavoidable possibility.

Restriction of Species Varieties, Mixtures & Blends Selection

Each turfgrass sod production unit supports a certain number of species varieties, mixtures and blends. On the contrary, with direct seeding the interested party has the opportunity to choose between a number of different species varieties, cultivars, blends and mixtures.

Cool & Warm Season Turfgrasses

Every turfgrass sod (like all lawns in general, seeding or sodding) come from two, divided on the basis of temperature, categories of plant species:

  • From the Cool Season turfgrasses
  • And from Warm Season turfgrasses

The Cool Season turfgrasses consist of those species whose optimum growing temperatures range from 15 to 24 °C. Key features of these species are:

  • Maintaining their green color in winter – summer
  • Can be started only from seed
  • The significant reduction of their metabolism in the summer period, with the predominance of very high temperatures
  • The Cool Season species thrive in areas where winter temperatures are low and summers are mild.

The Warm Seasons turfgrasses consist of those species whose optimum growing temperatures range between 26 and 32 °C. Key features of these species are:

  • Changing their color from green to yellow in the winter, because then they are dormant
  • Can be started both from seed or from various vegetative forms (rhizomes, stolons, etc.)
  • Warm Season species thrive in areas where there is no winter or is mild, while long-term summer is a must.

What is The Turfgrass Sod – Main Feautures

Buying the Turfgrass Sod

The individual, who will install the turfgrass sod in home garden by himself, has three sources for supply it:

  • The turfgrass producers– when it comes to large quantities
  • The retailers
  • And the Garden Centers

Regardless of where it is supplied, it has the option to buy between certified sod and non-certified. The second option is definitely cheaper, as long as it achieves high quality turfgrass sod.

But what does high quality turfgrass sod mean?

It basically means certified.

Apart from the slightly oxymoron of the thing, the certified turfgrass sod is delivered to the individual with the assurance that:

  • The variety, blend or mixture of varieties supplied is exactly what is required
  • It is almost completely weed free
  • It is almost completely free of pests and diseases
  • Fully complies with defined standards of density, color and overall appearance

And to be 100% guaranteed to the buyer, the turfgrass sod is accompanied by the blue certification tag.

What is The Turfgrass Sod – Main Feautures

Certified Turfgrass Sod

Certified sod is the product of the work of specialized producers, which fully meets the certification standards at all stages of its production.

The certification process starts with field control, includes seed selection and cultivation methods, and goes as far as harvesting.

Certified turfgrass sod is ready to be marketed after 6 to 8 months (sometimes up to 18 – for example in USA States Delaware and Maryland) from the start of cultivation.

Sod Certification in the US state of Maryland

It is quite interesting (… for the editorial team of "Kalliergeia") to follow the certification process of the turfgrass sod, for this and immediately below follows its brief recording with an example from the USA State of Maryland.

The Certification Process

  • The producer submits an application to the state Ministry of Agriculture
  • An Agronomist of the Ministry visits the farm prior to planting and confirms that the fields are free of weeds
  • A contract is signed between the producer and a company that distributes or produces seeds, for the supply of the former with the requested custom mixture of seeds (which are selected from the list of approved varieties set forth by the University of Maryland)
  • The mixture is approved by the Ministry, and an Inspector is sent to the seed company, where he attends, supervises and certifies the mixing or blending of the seeds for the requested mixture
  • The seed mixture is packed in bags, which bear the blue certification seed tag, and are given to the producer
  • The fields are plowed, leveled and seeded using special equipment
  • An inspector visits the farm from time to time to ensure that best turf practices are used.
  • 18 months after seeding, and during the harvest phase, a final inspection is carried out by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, which declares that the sod is ready to be harvested as certified
  • Once harvested, the certified sod must be delivered to the buyer within 24 hours

What is The Turfgrass Sod – Main Feautures

What is The Turfgrass Sod - Blue Tag of Arkansas State Certified Sod
Blue Tag of Arkansas State Certified Sod

Specifications of Sod

Regardless of the certification or not of turfgras sod, the producers are obliged to comply with the specifications established by the T.P.I. (Turfgrass Producers International).

These specifications are in the interest of the buyer – consumer to be aware of them – since they will be particularly useful when receiving the turfgras sod (… considers the editorial team of "Kalliergeia").

The Specifications of T.P.I.

The T.P.I. specifications for turfgrass sod are as follows:

  • There is a clear reference to the genetic origin, the identity of the seed or mixture of seeds, as well as whetherit is certified or not
  • The strip of soil should be about 15 mm thick, without counting the foliage
  • During the delivery, the cutting height should not exceed 30 to 40 mm for the cool season varieties, and13 to 20 mm for the warm season ones
  • The thach can not exceed 5 mm
  • The turfgrass sod is delivered with excellent plant health, without fungal and insect infestations
  • It is completely free of broadleaf or grass weeds
  • Trimmed to a height of about 40 mm must have such a density that the soil substrate is not visible at all
  • Each roll should weight between 17 and 20 kg
  • The size of each roll or piece is the result of agreement
  • The moisture of the soil substrate should be as much as in the normal humidity condition of the rootstock or slightly less, and its composition should be sandy, to encourage the immediate and deep rooting of plants
  • Holding and hanging the strip from one end should withstand its weight and not break or torn

What is The Turfgrass Sod – Main Feautures

In Preparation for Creating a Lawn the Sod is Rolling Out - © William M. Brown Jr., Bugwood.org
In Preparation for Creating a Lawn the Sod is Rolling Out - © William M. Brown Jr., Bugwood.org

Forms of Sod

Technological developments, research, and growing know-how on the production of turfgrass sod have led to the emergence of new forms of the final product, such as soilless washed as well as totally soilless sod.

Washed Turfgrass Sod

With the use of special washing machines, the total removal of the soil substrate is achieved. The consequence of this is the performance of the turfgrass sod:

  • With the minimum necessary weight
  • With reduced roll thickness, and therefore reduced product volume
  • With complete absence of soil

Hydroponic Cultivation Turfgrass Sod

Various vegetative forms (sprigs, rhizomes, etc), are transplanted onto a substrate (e.g. cotton mats) which is filled with nutrient-enriched water. The final product, after 120 to 150 days, is a very clean and healthy sod ready for installation.

What is The Turfgrass Sod – Main Feautures

Certified Sod Issues

Despite what has been said above about certification and specifications, which stipulate that the turfgrass sod is completely free of weeds and pests, in practice it seems that it is not so free.

And this is because, despite all the earnest efforts of the producers, for example, to eradicate the weeds, the seeds of some of them retain their germination capacity for many years, and as soon as they are found in a favorable environment, they begin to germinate.

By analogy, the same applies to insects and phytopathogenic microorganisms.

Therefore, even certified sods can sometimes be carriers of weeds and pests (… claims the editorial team of "Kalliergeia").

But what is the deepest reason where does this really happen?

Maybe this is after all:

Φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖ (Nature loves to hide)
Heraclitus of Ephesus
Professional Philosopher
Heraclitus of Ephesus, the Greek Philosofer

References

And with this cute quotation of the retired Greek philosopher from Ephesus we reach the References of the article from "Kalliergeia" (which has the in parentheses title What is The Turfgrass Sod – Characteristics & Specifications), which are presented by the great band from Albion Pink Floyd with their song High Hopes.

  1. Brede, D. (2000). Turfgrass Maintenance Reduction Handbook: Sports, Lawns, and Golf. John Wiley & Sons.
  2. Christians, N. E. (2011). Fundamentals of Turfgrass Management. John Wiley & Sons.
  3. Cockerham, S. T. (1988). Turfgrass Sod Production. UCANR Publications.
  4. Johns, R. (2004). Turfgrass Installation, Management and Maintenance. McGraw Hill Professional.
  5. Wiecko, G. (2006). Fundamentals of Tropical Turf Management. CABI.

With Pomp and Circumstance

The great song High Hopes by the Pink Floyd.

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