Red Hen’s 2 Choices for an INSTANT LAWN: Red Hen’s Kentucky Bluegrass Sod vs. Red Hen’s Tall Fescue Sod

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One of Red Hen’s Kentucky Bluegrass Sod Fields

Article Last Updated 05/31/22

Did you know that Red Hen Turf Farm produces and sells 2 kinds of sod? 

Since 2018, we have carried both our flagship 100% Kentucky Bluegrass Sod, and more recently our “Tall Fescue Sod”.

Of these 2 choices, our Kentucky Bluegrass Sod is a more popular cool-season turf grass that is specific to our Midwest region.

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By far, the majority of sod we sell is our Kentucky Bluegrass Sod. 

So what are the main differences between Red Hen’s two types of Sod, and why might you choose one over the other?  We get this question a lot.

FOR A QUICK SUMMARY… 

Our Red Hen 100% Kentucky Bluegrass Sod (aka KYB Sod or Bluegrass Sod) is a beautiful, lush, and finely textured natural grass. It is a blend of four high quality, top performing seed varieties, and is widely used on golf courses, athletic fields, and home lawns.

Our Red Hen Tall Fescue Sod (aka Fescue Sod or Tall Fescue Sod) is 90% Rhizomatous Tall Fescue and 10% Kentucky Bluegrass, and is grown for its superior density, dark color, and fine leaf texture. The fescues in this mix provide increased spreading ability, deep rooting, and are drought tolerant. The fescues and Kentucky Bluegrass in this mix provides lower irrigation requirements once established.

But, to dive in deeper, let’s start by focusing on Red Hen’s KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS SOD …

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How Easy is it to Care for Newly Laid Sod? WATER, SUNLIGHT and AIR are KEY Components.

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Updated 05/27/22

When you receive your newly harvested sod, most of the root system has been cut off – and you’re getting maybe a 1/2 inch of soil / roots with your sod rolls.  Over the next year to year and a half, the roots of your sod are going to be growing back. Once the roots have grown back in at the 1.5 year mark after transplanting to your yard, then your sod is considered ESTABLISHED.

You need a healthy balance of WATER,SUNLIGHT, and AIR, to help your sod to start to take root after within weeks, depending partly on your initial soil preparation and sod installation.

Since you have limited control over SUNLIGHT and AIR, the key to success relies heavily on WATER.  The roots of your new sod will penetrate the soil faster and root down sooner if properly watered.  Only 2-3 weeks may be necessary for initial sod rooting, but the roots will still be relatively shallow.

Common questions we get are when? and how much?  Usually, there are two main ways to kill new sod … by watering too much, or watering too little.

Here’s how to ensure that your new sod has the right amount of water.

First day watering.
Your sod should be soaked with water as soon as it is laid. Water each zone or section as soon as it is laid!

How do you check to make sure you have watered it enough?

You could check by walking on it. If you make deep footprints, it has enough water.

Another way – if the soil is firm – is to lift a few different corner of the sod to inspect. The soil on the back of the sod should be damp to wet. If it is not damp – and if the ground is still dry underneath – water for at least 30 minutes.

Second through fifth day watering. 
Check your lawn at least one time per day, or more than once if it is hot or windy. Walk on the new lawn to inspect it. If the soil is soft and you make deep footprints, or water has puddle in areas, it is too wet and you should stop watering for awhile, and water less often with less water. If the soil is firm, lift a corner of the sod in several places. The soil should be damp, not  dripping wet, or dusty dry.

Watch the color of the sod.

Green is good.

Blue-green indicates not enough water, and you will have problems in 12-24 hours.

Yellow-tan means the sod is heat/moisture stressed and will go dormant. The roots and crowns are still alive and if you water more, new leaves will appear in seven to ten days.

Cracks that appear between the rolls indicates not enough water has been applied and you should water longer or more often.

Temperatures above 80 degrees F generally mean more water is needed and below 60 degrees F means less water is needed.

In the cooler months of March, April, October, and November, sod needs much less water.

Further watering.
After five days or so, the soil has soaked up water like a sponge, and you must reduce your watering habits or you will drown the new roots.

Roots will not grow into waterlogged soils!  Begin stretching out the time between the watering. Reset your timer if you have an automatic system.

New Sod Watering Tips near Sidewalks and Driveways and Surfaces that Reflect Heat onto your Sod (like FENCES!).
Pay close attention around paved areas!
A LOT of heat will transfers from paved / hard surfaces and will dry out nearby new sod much faster than the rest of the new yard.

New Sod and HOT DAYS – APPROACHING 90 DEGREES F OR HOTTER
Pay close attention to your new sod on hot hot days and make sure to WATER more than you might usually.  It’s almost impossible to over-water sod that has been installed in the past month or so when we’re seeing 90 Degree Temps.   When in doubt, call us at 574-232-6811

Here’s a related FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION that we hear a lot:

I installed by sod last year, and now it’s the hottest part of the summer. Is there something I need to know?

Good question!  Newly installed sod takes about a year or a full growing season to be considered fully established, with a fully developed root system.  A healthy, established lawn is more forgiving and durable that a newly laid, still-establishing lawn.   Watering an ESTABLISHING yard versus an ESTABLISHED yard are two different things – and the hotter and dryer it is, the more this will become apparent.  Some general tips to follow when it comes to watering your ESTABLISHED lawn are:

  1. The best time to water is 4am-8am.
  2. The next best time is 8am-noon.
  3. If you can’t water during these times, watering when you can is much better than not watering at all.
  4. Watering every day, in light/shallow waterings should be avoided and can produce unwanted crabgrass, diseases and other weeds that thrive in that environment.
  5. Deep, infrequent watering is the best for established lawns.
  6. Fertilizing and mowing should also be avoided during extremely hot and dry periods.

Lawns that are still establishing tend to need more water overall – but hard surfaces that radiate heat, slopes and shade can make a difference.

To dive in deeper on this topic, check out our blog article HERE called, “Irrigation, droughts – and strange weather … HOT, DRY SUMMER TURF TIPS from Red Hen Turf Farm”  and Purdue’s free guide on Irrigation Practices for Homelawns (CLICK HERE)

LEARN MORE
Read our “Early and Longterm Sod Care Instructions” and much, much more by visiting Red Hen Turf Farm’s PDF LIbrary.

Or give us a call today – 574-232-6811Facebookpinterestlinkedinmail

Irrigation, droughts – and strange weather … HOT, DRY SUMMER TURF TIPS from Red Hen Turf Farm

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On 05/27/22 and 06/15/20, a few updates were made to this Blog originally published on 8/2/18.

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The last few months we’ve been hearing, “This sure is a strange season.”   It certainly was an unusual start to the 2018 year.  We had floods in February, snowstorms in March and in April we never thought we’d see the trees turn green.  But are we really having especially strange weather, or are we just hoping for normal weather to let mother nature do all the work for us?

Let’s look at the weather facts from this year, gathered from our main weather source: NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  In February 2018, we hit a record-breaking 8 inches of precipitation.  Rain, coupled with a huge snow storm, melted snowpacks and led to extreme flooding, causing cresting of local rivers. I think we all remember this event and some are still feeling the effects. Click: here for an article about this historic flooding.

This picture was taken on February 27, 2018, showing one of Red Hen Turf Farm’s many flooded fields.

In March, everyone was trying to recoup from the February floods. We received snow showers for the first half of the month.  It was a pretty cold month with temps averaging around 34 degrees.  Typically, around this time, we are all looking forward to spring and the green up of trees and grass.  But nature didn’t green up like it did the prior year and it remained pretty cold.  In fact, it seemed like “greening up” took 3-4 weeks longer compared to last year.  The strange weather had its effect on us at the sod farm as well.  Flooding and extremely cold temperatures prevented us from harvesting sod until April. Whereas last year, we were harvesting sod on February 14 (an especially early time compared to most years), in 2018 we did not harvest our first order of sod until April 9th – WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

April 9, 2018, Red Hen Turf Farm’s first sod harvest of the season. Snow and all!

 
 
As summer began to set in, throughout July our customers started feeling the effects of extreme heat and drought. Lawns started turning brown and sprinklers were constantly running.

One of the frequently asked questions we received during this hot, try time of the season was “why is my grass brown if I have my sprinklers on timers?”  Sure, auto-timers may seem like a dream. Set it and forget it, right?  Unfortunately, this is a common misconception, especially when the temperatures are above normal and/or if we haven’t had significant rain in weeks.  Sprinklers are a good supplement for water, but can never do as good of a job as Mother Nature when it rains.

In order to understand why your grass may be turning brown, you need to first consider how much water is needed to sustain a healthy, green appearance.

According to a fantastic, easy to read publication from Purdue, Irrigation Practices for Homelawns, most ESTABLISHED Indiana lawns need 1 to 1-1/2 inches of irrigation per week. 

But what if you are in the midst of a drought? 

You can do 1 of 2 things for ESTABLISHED lawns.

CHOICE 1:  Allow your established lawn to go dormant.  Irrigate 1/2 inch every 2 weeks just to maintain hydration to the plant crowns.  This amount of water will not green up the lawn, but it will increase survival chances during long drought periods.   However, newly installed sod will require daily irrigation 1-2 times per day for at least a week.  After a few mows, deep and infrequent watering should be practiced.

LEFT: Turf has been irrigated during a drought. RIGHT: Turf turning dormant.

CHOICE 2:  If you decide against dormancy, keep your established lawn green by watering it DEEPLY 2-3 times per week.  Soak it deeply, morning hours are best to water, but if your only chance to water is at a different time, go for it but keep a few things in mind that we’ll talk about next…

 

Contrary to some tales, watering your lawn in the afternoon will not burn it.  It is not the ideal time to water but if it is the only time you have to water, it may just take extra time due to more wind and evaporation. Avoid watering in the evening hours.  Watering in the evening can make turf more susceptible to mold and diseases by providing the moisture needed by fungus and bacteria. Even with proper watering techniques, turf can still get heat stressed and get some brown spots. Depending on the species of turf, green up times vary.  Kentucky bluegrass may take 2-3 weeks to recoup and start turning green again.  On the other hand, tall fescue will tend to bounce back quicker from a droughty period.   

IN GENERAL, WHEN IT COMES TO IRRIGATION SYSTEMS, avoid the set-it and forget-it approach. Rather, adjust your irrigation timers according to your turf’s needs, not yours.  Some things to consider when you’re evaluating your turf’s needs are:

  • Paying close attention to the weather will help you figure out if you need to water more or less.
  • Finding out how much water your lawn needs depends on a few factors such as species of turf, if it’s in the shade, if it’s at the bottom of a slope, and whether your grass is newly established.
  • Grass in the shade and at the bottom of a slope tends to need LESS water overall.
  • Keep in mind that NEW SOD and GRASS GROWN FROM SEED tends to need more weather overall FOR THE FIRST YEAR OR SO while it’s becoming fully established – but again, if it’s in the shade or at the bottom of a slope, adjust accordingly.
  • Yes, you read that right … Sodded and Seeded Lawns should be considered newly established / establishing for about a year or so.  Some of the calls we had this summer were about sod that was laid last fall, where the amount of irrigation was not adjusted accordingly, and they were effectively under-watering which led to yellowing or browning of the grass that was still establishing, as compared to the established parts of their yards.
  • You also may want to pay attention to the length of the lawn surrounding your sprinkler heads.
  • If the grass is too long, the water spray will be deflected and not get to where it needs to go.  Keep grass trimmed around sprinkler heads.

If you are unsure how much water your irrigation system is putting out or if it’s putting out the same amount all over, simply put empty tuna cans or rain gauges in grid like zones.  If they are not holding the same amount of water for each zone, adjustments may be needed.  You will also have to adjust timers on hills,  slopes and shaded areas as they all require different amounts of irrigation.  Set timers on hills and slopes just enough time until the water begins to run off, then stopping until it is absorbed, repeating until the desired amount is applied is recommended.   Hilltops dry out faster than lower areas so they should be irrigated differently.  Shaded areas also need less water.

Click here to read more on a blog we recently published on proper watering techniques.

Let’s recap and build on a few main points…

  • The best time to water is 4am-8am.
  • The next best time is 8am-noon.
  • Watering every day, in light/shallow waterings should be avoided and can produce unwanted crabgrass, diseases and other weeds that thrive in that environment.
  • Deep, infrequent watering is the best for established lawns.
  • Newly established lawns and lawns that are establishing over about a year or so tend to need more water overall – but again, slopes and shade can make a difference.
  • Oh, and Fertilizing and mowing should also be avoided during extremely hot and dry periods.

When the Temperatures are HIGH, RED HEN TURF FARM RECOMMENDS that you hold off on fertilizing and mowing, and plan on doing some extra watering if you want to keep your lawn from going dormant, especially with Recently Laid Sod

So whether you have underground irrigation on timers or a good old fashion sprinkler and hose, some adjustments and work still have to go into keeping your lawn green during droughts.

Questions?  Give us a call at 574-232-6811

 

 

A FEW UPDATES to this BLOG MADE on 6/15/20 – A HOT DRY JUNE!  

Even with types of grasses like Red Hen’s 90/10 Turf-type Tall Fescue Sod that are technically more “drought tolerant” as compared some other turfgrasses, it’s becoming quite the “HOT TOPIC” here at Red Hen.

For more on this topic, Check out Purdue’s article, “Home lawn during drought: To water … or not?” HERE, and Purdue’s article, “THE HEAT IS ON!” HERE is another good one to read.

You might also check out Red Hen’s BLOG, “Where did the rain go? And what do I do about my thirsty lawn?” HERE. Purdue’s guide on “Irrigation Practices for Homeowners” is another great resource, HERE.

UPDATE on 8/28/20 – After a hot, dry summer pretty much for months, we have written a companion article, “Doing a Simple “Tuna Can” Sprinkler Audit … IS THE WAY TO GO!” that explains why setting it and forgetting it is not a good idea when it comes to irrigation / sprinkler systems – especially if you’re dealing with brown grass and not sure why. Check it out HERE.

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Hauling and Trailering Sod Safely and Efficiently #PickingUpSod #Trailering

FacebookpinterestlinkedinmailUpdated 5/14/22

While Red Hen will deliver 500 Sq. Ft. (1 standard pallet) or more of sod, if you have the means of picking sod up, it’s always worth getting quotes for both scenarios.

When you pick sod up at Red Hen Turf Farm during our loading hours, we will always prefer to load your sod on the pallet, by using one of our forklifts.

The most common problems that we encounter when loading various vehicles are:

  1. Customers do not bring and are not prepared to use the appropriate tie downs.
  2. No good access to load trailer with Red Hen’s Forklifts because the trailer has a drop down gate that can not be removed and/or ramps that the forklifts cannot safely drive on.
  3. Tires have not been checked for wear or air pressure.
  4. Trailer is not rated for the weight of even 1 pallet of sod.

If you ultimately decide to pick up sod, the Law puts the responsibility of providing proper transportation and equipment for SAFE and LEGAL hauling squarely on your shoulders.  This includes proper cargo tie-down equipment, properly equipped vehicles and the knowledge and skills to execute the practices safely.

Being mindful of this could literally save someone’s life!

If you want to become REALLY EDUCATED about hauling cargo and equipment, we suggest you look at Purdue University’s FREE 85-Page GUIDE, “Securing the Load: A Guide to Safe and Legal Transportation of Cargo and Equipment” at THIS LINK.

The very least you should know when picking up sod includes:

  1. You need a vehicle that can haul the load safely. A full pallet of sod (500 sq. ft.) can weigh 2000-3000 pounds depending on recent rains or irrigation. IN CASE YOU ARE INTERESTED IN RENTING A TRUCK and/or TRAILER TO PICK YOUR SOD UP, we’ve included a few helpful links at the end of this article.
  2. Make sure you have a vehicle that can pull the loaded trailer and also make sure the vehicle is designed to pull the loaded weights.
  3. If you bring a trailer, make sure it is designed to hold the weight you want to haul, and make sure the tires can handle the load.
  4. CHECK THE TIRE AIR PRESSURE of YOUR VEHICLE and THE TRAILER.
  5. With a Trailer, Safety chains should be properly rigged to tow vehicle, not to hitch or ball
  6. With a Trailer, the Coupler should be secured, tight, and locked.  Refer to the “Coupling To Tow Vehicle” section of your manual.
  7. Lights: Test Tail, Stop, and Turn Lights
  8. Bring something to tie down the sod on the pallets. Ratchet tie down straps work best.
  9. With a Trailer, Follow the safety checks after 10, 25, and 50 miles as described below.
After 10 Miles After 25 Miles After 50 Miles
Retighten lug nuts Retighten lug nuts Check that Coupler is Secured
Check tire pressure Check tire pressure Check that safety chains are fastened and not dragging
Check that Coupler is Secured Check that Coupler is Secured Check that Sod is Secured

We truly want you to get home with all of your sod safely, and the people following you will appreciate your diligence.

Also, it is required by law.

Last but not least, if you are curious about renting a truck and/or trailer, here are some handy links to check for availability in your local area:

LOWE’S rents Pick-Up Trucks for as little as $19 for the first 90 Minutes – Find out more HERE: https://www.lowes.com/l/truck-rentals.html

HOME DEPOT also rents Pick-Up Trucks for as little as $19 for the first 75 minutes – https://www.homedepot.com/c/truck_rental

HOME DEPOT also rents Trailers – https://www.homedepot.com/c/moving_supplies_equipment_rental

U-HAUL rents Trucks and Trailers – https://www.uhaul.com/

MacALLISTER RENTALS operates throughout Indiana and Michigan and rents Trailers – https://www.macallisterrentals.com/rental/trailer-rental/

If you’re in the South Bend Area, BURNS RENTALS offers Trailer for rent, including Dump Trailers for heavy loads, starting at a rate of $127 for 4 hours / $184.00 daily https://burnstoolrentals.com/equipment.asp?action=category&category=33

For the South Bend Area, MICHIANA RENTAL is another source to rent a heavy-load capacity Dump Trailer, starting at $150 for four hours / $200 Daily / $200 for the Weekend – https://mtrental.com/tools/trailers/Facebookpinterestlinkedinmail

When was the last time you checked you tires’ air pressure? #PickingUpSod #Trailering

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Updated 5/14/22

“When was the last time you checked your air pressure?”

Well, this is a question we ask a lot here at Red Hen. There is a tire gauge next to our cash register for a reason.

I always tell myself I am going to count how many tires I fill up every year and never do so. But I can tell you it’s a lot.

It all started about 8 years ago when I noticed a lot of trailers and sometimes trucks would have start to get loaded, but then would have to be unloaded so that they could drive back to the office to use our air pump.

Now the important thing to understand is how we operate as a team. If it needs to get done, we do it. But if we can be smart about it, why unload a trailer just because no one checked the air pressure?

I have sent our semis out with forklifts to save customers from what was becoming a bad day.

Be proactive.

Take the time to grab a tire gauge and check your air pressure.

The last thing I want to see on the way home is a customer pulled over with a flat tire.

Oh, and for MORE TIPS on picking sod up safely, check out our blog post,Hauling and Trailering Sod Safely and Efficiently #PickingUpSod #Trailering” (CLICK HERE)

— Jeremy and the Red Hen Turf Farm Crew

P.S. If you are curious about renting a truck and/or trailer, here are some handy links to check for availability in your local area:

LOWE’S rents Pick-Up Trucks for as little as $19 for the first 90 Minutes – Find out more HERE: https://www.lowes.com/l/truck-rentals.html

HOME DEPOT also rents Pick-Up Trucks for as little as $19 for the first 75 minutes – https://www.homedepot.com/c/truck_rental

HOME DEPOT also rents Trailers – https://www.homedepot.com/c/moving_supplies_equipment_rental

U-HAUL rents Trucks and Trailers – https://www.uhaul.com/

MacALLISTER RENTALS operates throughout Indiana and Michigan and rents Trailers – https://www.macallisterrentals.com/rental/trailer-rental/

If you’re in the South Bend Area, BURNS RENTALS offers Trailer for rent, including Dump Trailers for heavy loads, starting at a rate of $127 for 4 hours / $184.00 daily https://burnstoolrentals.com/equipment.asp?action=category&category=33

For the South Bend Area, MICHIANA RENTAL is another source to rent a heavy-load capacity Dump Trailer, starting at $150 for four hours / $200 Daily / $200 for the Weekend – https://mtrental.com/tools/trailers/Facebookpinterestlinkedinmail