SODDING - Knowledgebase Question

WINTER HAVEN, Fl
Question by DIP1050
March 28, 2010
LIKE MOST IN FLORIDA I HAVE LOST SOD TO THE FREEZE. I HAVE TURNED OVER THE SOIL AND NOW WANT YOUR ADVICE AS TO THE NEXT STEP IN PREPARING SOIL FOR THE SOD. FERTILIZE,SPRAY FOR WEEDS OR FUNGUS. JUST WHAT DO I DO NEXT. I LIVE IN CENTRAL FL AND PLAN ON SODDING WITH ST. AUGUSTINE. I ALSO REQUEST YOUR HELP AS TO WHAT TYPE OF ST. AUGUSTINE. THE AREA IS A SHADED AERA. THANKING YOU IN ADVANCE,
DAVID


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Answer from NGA
March 28, 2010

0

I think you're off to a good start. Here's what I would do:


Start by removing the old lawn and/or weeds. One way to accomplish this is by digging them out with a flat-bladed shovel (make sure you get the roots). Another method is to apply an herbicide such as Round Up or Weed B Gon. Before proceeding further, have your soil pH tested. Most lawn grasses prefer a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. If the test reveals that you need to adjust the pH, now's the time to do it. Spread a starter fertilizer over the now-loosened soil. This type of fertilizer is high in phosphorus, the middle number in the NPK sequence on a fertilizer bag. Also spread a soil conditioner over the soil. "Soil conditioner" is often what it's called at the store, but if you have a good supply of compost at home, it will serve just as well as a soil amendment. Using a rototiller (usually can be rented from your local rental center), till the starter fertilizer and soil conditioner (or equivalent) into the soil. I know this seems like a lot of work, but good soil preparation is one key in seeding lawns successfully.

Now rake the soil to begin to level it out, removing any rocks and debris that you find. To avoid problems with excess water-runoff, make sure that any site grading you do allows water to flow away from your house. This next step requires a roller. Rollers, like tillers, can be rented from your local rental center. Fill the roller's drum with water, then use the roller to finish leveling the soil. Water the soil lightly.

You're ready to lay the sod. Once it's down, use the roller again to make sure the sod is making good contact with the soil.

There are several St. Augustine cultivars to consider, but the two with the best characteristics include: 'Floratam' is an improved St. Augustinegrass that was released jointly in 1973 by the University of Florida and Texas A & M. 'Floratam' is the most widely produced and used St. Augustinegrass in Florida. It is a coarse-textured cultivar that has poor cold and shade tolerance relative to other St. Augustinegrass cultivars. It will not persist well in environments that receive less than 6 hours of sunlight daily. It grows vigorously in warm weather, but has a relatively long period of dormancy in north Florida and greens up more slowly in the spring than some cultivars. When first released, it had UF-documented chinch bug resistance, although that has largely been lost over time and chinch bugs are now a major pest of 'Floratam'. It is also susceptible to gray leaf spot and other diseases. 'Floratam' is intolerant of atrazine herbicides when temperatures are above 85?F. It is a ?standard? cultivar and should be mowed at 3.5 to 4 inches.

'Amerishade' is a true ?dwarf? cultivar of St. Augustinegrass, with a very slow and prostrate growth habit and a lower mowing height (1.5 to 2 inches) than standard cultivars. Its mowing frequency is less than those of most other St. Augustinegrass cultivars, with research showing that it can go for just over two weeks even in the summer months before needing mowing. Like the other dwarfs, it has an increased tendency to produce thatch and is very susceptible to disease. It does not perform well in the northern parts of the state and can experience winterkill during cold years. Due to its slow growth habit, it also has greater difficulty recovering from damage or injury in comparison to other St. Augustinegrass cultivars. It maintains a deep green color and has good shade tolerance.

Best wishes with your lawn.

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