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Sod U’s Most FAQs

Sod University receives an abundance of questions each week about lawn and garden care. As it turns out, a lot of homeowners seem to have similar questions in mind. This week, Sod University has put together a list of our 10 most frequently asked questions with professional responses.

1. How do I level my yard without ripping it up?

Leveling your lawn can seem a little scary at first—especially if you don’t want to rip everything up. In this instance, applying a layer of topdressing can be beneficial for your lawn. When you topdress a lawn, you will spread a mix of soil or soil compost and fine sand. You should first start by mixing the topsoil and sand so that it is fully blended. Apply up to half an inch of leveling mix on top of the low areas you want to level out. Rake the mix out on your soil for an even spread. Good quality topsoil contains a rich mixture of nutrients that are necessary for your lawn’s health. You can read more about this topic in How to Level Your Lawn Without Ripping It Up.

Top Soil Applied To Home Lawn
2. When can I apply herbicide? Can I apply it during the summer?

It is not recommended you apply an herbicide at all during the summer when temperatures exceed 85 degrees as the herbicide will damage your grass. Wait until it gets cooler and apply a post-emergent herbicide. It is important to know that post-emergent herbicides are most effective when applied on weeds that are actively growing when making an herbicide selection. Pre-emergent herbicides, on the other hand, serve as preventatives and control annual lawn weeds before they germinate and reach the soil’s surface. Pre-emergents are best applied in the spring BEFORE summer annual weeds appear or in the fall to control winter annual weeds. Selective post-emergent herbicides target certain types of plants, such as perennial weeds that return every year, without harming your grass. A non-selective herbicide, such as one containing the chemical glyphosate, will kill everything it comes in contact with. Read more in The Best and Worst Times for Herbicide Applications and browse through a list of our herbicide products here.

3. How do I keep my neighbor’s yard from growing into my lawn?

You’ve probably noticed your lawn is a different grass type compared to your neighbor’s. The most effective thing you can do is purchase an herbicide that is labeled to kill your neighbor’s type of grass without damaging your own. It is recommended you spot treat the areas where their grass is growing into yours so that you don’t damage their entire lawn—just the areas where it’s invading into yours. Other helpful tips include the addition of a fence, hedges or a plant bed. Good communication with an understanding neighbor will go a long way too. Explain what you are experiencing with your neighbor and come up with a mutually acceptable answer to remain neighborly and keep the peace.

4. How do I remove invasive grasses like bermudagrass or centipede from my zoysia and St. Augustine lawn?

There are many methods to getting rid of bermudagrass and centipede in your lawn. Bermudagrasss grows really fast and can easily take over a lawn. The best way to get rid of these grasses without killing your entire lawn is to choke it out with a healthy lawn or use an herbicide to spot treat small invasions. If you have a St. Augustinegrass lawn, treat the bermudagrass with herbicides that contain ethofumesate in combination with atrazine. If you have a tall fescue or zoysiagrass lawn, herbicides that contain fenoxprop or fluazifop will treat the bermudagrass and centipede without damaging your lawn. Spot treating with a non-selective herbicide such as glyphosate is the most effective method for control, but non-selective herbicides kill all plants they come into contact with—so be careful not to damage your lawn. Read more in How to Remove Invading Bermudagrass and Centipedegrass from a Zoysia Lawn.

Pictured above: Bermudagrass invading St. Augustine.

5. I have fungus in my St. Augustine. Which is the best fungicide to use right now?

St. Augustinegrass is susceptible to certain diseases during the summer. This includes gray leaf spot, pythium root rot and take all root rot. All three of these tend to favor wet conditions when there has been periods of excess rain or overwatering. Gray leaf spot produces irregular dead patches of turf with bleached out spots. Pythium root rot looks like small or large yellow, light green or brown areas that become thin. Take-all root rot looks like irregular yellow or light green patches on the surface, but you may never see this. As a root disease, the early symptoms are seen on the roots. The roots will start off as thin and off-white in color with black areas. As the disease progresses, the roots will shorten and turn black and rotted. Once you identify which kind of fungus you are experiencing, you can begin to apply a fungicide that is labeled to treat these. Read more in Identifying Common Lawn Diseases or browse our fungicides online here.

Grey Leaf Spot Fungus Close Up

Pictured above: Gray leaf spot on St. Augustine.

6. When is the best time to plant grass plugs? Can it be too hot?

Sod and plugs can be installed at almost any time of the year. The best time to install plugs, however, is in the early and mid-fall when temperatures are cooler but grass continues to grow. Spring is the second best time to lay sod and is preferable time for when warm season grasses such as centipede, zoysia, bermuda and St. Augustine that become dormant in the winter. You can install plugs in the summer, but weed pressure may be harder to overcome because weeds have room to grow around plugs, and temperatures are often too warm for herbicide applications. Be sure to check out our variety of grass plugs we offer here and read our How to Properly Install Grass Plugs page for more information.

7. What’s causing the brown spots in my lawn? Why is my grass dying?

Brown spots can be caused by a bunch of things including dog urine, fungus, grubs or thatch. Lawnifi Recover is included in the Summer Fertilizer Box that offers the helpful nutrients your lawn needs to “recover” from damage. If you in fact have a fungus problem, don’t apply the fertilizer until after you’ve treated the fungus outbreak as nitrogen can make problems worse. Be sure to check out a few related Sod University articles to help you with these problems including Repairing Dog Pee Spots on Your Lawn, Identifying Common Lawn Diseases, Grub Worm Control and Why Dethatching and Aeration Matter. Recover can also be found in the Fall Fertilizer Box.

8. Do I need to remove old grass before planting sod?

Yes, you would need to kill and remove the old grass before installing new sod. This creates a successful environment for your new sod to grow into. Begin by making an application of Roundup or some other glyphosate-based product 10–14 days before installation, then wait three to four days before making a second application if the grass isn’t dying quickly enough. Use a sod cutter or roto-tiller to remove the top layer of grass and debris. We have a few product recommendations and rental locations for roto-tillers and sod cutters on our Sod Installation Tools page to get you started with sod removal equipment. If you’re interested in using a sod cutter, be sure to read this article for more details.

9. What type of prep work do I need to do before my sod arrives?

There are a few things you should do before your sod arrives. It’s important to consider where the driver will place the pallets when they are dropped off. For example, if you are sodding in your backyard, you need to check with the company delivering the sod to confirm that they can deliver them to your backyard. Otherwise, you will need to make plans to manually transport the sod (piece by piece) from the front yard. You also need to have the right tools and amount of labor ahead of time to make this project a breeze. Learn more in Tips for Your Next Sod Job.

10. Should I use a pre-emergent before putting down new sod?

There shouldn’t be a reason to use a pre-emergent on newly laid sod. If you have taken all the proper steps prior to putting the sod down and thoroughly sprayed out all the pre-existing weeds, there should only be a few weeds that survive that can be easily pulled by hand or controlled with a post-emergent later. The root pruning effect of the pre-emergent is damaging to sod. Some varieties of turfgrass are less susceptible to major damage, but it is not healthy for any variety. Read more about this in How to Use a Pre-Emergent Herbicide in the Spring.

Weed Spurge

Sod University strives to produce relative, timely content tailored to our readers. These are just a few of the many frequently asked questions Sod University receives. If you have a question that isn’t answered in the list above, be sure to check Sod University for the topics you want to learn more about and fill out our feedback form. Sod University also published a separate article that specifically addresses questions about Lawnifi, our liquid fertilizer program, in Lawnifi’s Most FAQs.

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