Installing Sod In Late Fall Months (Oct-Nov)

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– NOVEMBER 2019 – 

Our customers have many questions about installing sod this time of year (during the cooler months of October and November).  We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions with our answers below.  We hope it helps you with your year-end landscaping projects!

Harvesting sod in the cooler months.

FAQ:

Q – Is now (October/November) a good time to install sod for our area?

A – Fall is one of the best times to install KBG sod (in our region)!  Our (KBG) Kentucky Bluegrass sod is a cool-season grass.  Installing it during cooler months means better survivability and less heat stress. A fall installation date will also allow time for the roots to develop prior to the next summer. And since it’s too late to plant grass seed for a successful fall seeding, sod is a great alternative for an instant lawn.

A layer of frost blankets the sod field last year. Once the frost burned off in the sun, we were ready to harvest!

Q – How much time do I have left to lay sod this year, and how long are you harvesting sod?

A – We tell our residential customers as a guide, try to have all of your landscaping projects wrapped up by Thanksgiving (end of November).   We will harvest sod until the ground becomes too frozen for our equipment which is typically in December sometime.  Some landscapers install sod in the winter – as long as the site is prepped and ready and we are still able to harvest sod.

Q – How long will my sod survive if I cannot install it right away?

A – During the colder months of October and November, since it’s well under 80 degrees and the risk of “cooking” your sod is no longer an issue, uninstalled sod can hold up for several days.  However, no matter what time of year it is, it’s always best to get installed right away so it can transplant as quickly as possible.

Q – How often should I water my new sod this time of year (October/November)?

A – Although most people are finished with watering their established lawns this time of year, you still need to ensure your newly installed sod does not dry out and stays damp after installation until the ground freezes. During the October and November months (cooler weather)  moisture from water stays in the soil longer and most people typically do not have issues with sod drying out.    Mother nature usually takes over and keeps everything pretty hydrated.  Keep in mind that morning frost will not kill the new sod, rather it will add moisture naturally after it thaws. Once the ground freezes for the season, there is no need to water, as the sod will go into a dormant state and finish rooting in the spring.

Not sure if you are getting enough water?  Pull up on a piece of sod and look at the soil underneath for signs of moisture.

Q – What if my irrigation system has been winterized?

A – You should get enough irrigation from mother nature unless we have an unseasonably warm fall/winter. Again, it is important to keep the sod hydrated until it goes dormant so checking it frequently is suggested.

Q – Can I fertilize during this time of year (October/November)?

A –   If the grass is not actively growing, no fertilizer is needed.   Keep in mind, you want to get your last fertilizer treatment down while the grass is still green and before the ground is frozen for the season.  We suggest applying your final fertilizer with your last mow of the season.  Again, end of November is typically a good time to finish all your landscape projects up for the year.

Until next time, ~Michelle & The Red Hen Crew

Was this helpful?  Do you have other questions we can answer?  We are here for you!

Read our other blogs here:  Red Hen Blogs

Or you can always call us 574-232-6811 (M-F) 7:30am-4pm EST

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Too late for a Fall Grass Seeding? Tips for a Winter (Dormant) Seeding – It’s a great option that few know about!

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Did you miss the optimum time for seeding this fall?  If you are wondering when that was, typically in our region (Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan) the number 1 very best time to plant grass seed is between August 15 and September 15.

Today, as we write this article, it’s October 23rd and we are still getting daily customer questions about seeding at this time of year and it’s really too late and would be a waste of time and money. Mother Nature is not going to let your seed grow enough to make it through a frost and our soon-to-come harsh cold temperatures.

Any grass seed planting after September in our region can be risky due to freezing ground temperatures.  Once the seed germinates in anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks (more on germination can be read HERE), it will need a couple more weeks to mature enough to withstand the freezing and often unpredictable Indiana temperatures so planting too late may not be successful.  

TOO LATE AND NOT FEELING GREAT ABOUT WAITING UNTIL SPRING? THERE’S A SOLUTION!

Why not step out of your comfort zone and opt for what is often referred to as a “dormant seeding“? Using the method of “dormant seeding” also happens to typically be the 2nd best option timing-wise to plant grass seed in our region.  

“Dormant seeding” simply refers to the fact that if you put the seed down once the ground is frozen for the season, the seed will lie dormant or inactive until soil temperatures are warm enough to germinate in the EARLY spring and give you a head-start compared to doing the seeding in the spring.  

You can use any seed you want to use for this method of seeding.  Unsure what seed to choose?  Pick a high-quality seed for best results.  Here are a few options we sell in our store:

100% Kentucky Bluegrass Seed … 

This sod-quality seed will match our most current variety of Kentucky Bluegrass sod in production. This seed takes 21 days to germinate and will be very slow to fill in. This seed will require some extra attention to establish, but it exhibits the same deep green color and disease resistance that Red Hen’s sod does.  AVAILABLE PRICED BY THE POUND. Rates: NEW SEEDING: 4 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft /// OVER-SEEDING: 2 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft

Rhizomatous Tall Fescue (RTF) Seed … 

This seed will match our No Net Rhizomatous Tall Fescue sod in production. This seed takes 7-14 days to germinate.  AVAILABLE PRICED BY THE POUND. Rates: NEW SEEDING: 6-8 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft; over seed 3-4 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft.

Greenskeeper Custom Mix Seed … 

OUR MOST POPULAR SEED!  Works well in full sun and light amounts of shade.  This variety contains 3 types of grass seeds and each type will germinate at a different time.  AVAILABLE PRICED BY THE POUND. Rates: NEW SEEDING: 4-6 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft /// OVER-SEEDING: 2-3 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft.

Greenskeeper Premium Shade Mix Seed …

While no grass loves shade, this blend has varieties that exhibit better growth habits in partially shaded areas. AVAILABLE PRICED BY THE POUND. Rates: NEW SEEDING: 4-6 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft /// OVER-SEEDING: 2-3 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft.

Greenskeeper Super Shady Seed …

NEWER PRODUCT we started carrying in 2018! If you have less than 2 hours of direct sunlight and have tried to other shady mixes with little luck, this may be the grass seed for you!  This mix contains includes 5% Poa Supina bluegrass seed – some of the highest tech shad grass seed on the market.  AVAILABLE PRICED BY THE POUND. Rate: NEW SEEDING: 4-6 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft /// OVER-SEEDING: 2-3 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft.

For good timing on a dormant seeding, we typically suggest waiting until December and getting it done prior to March, but it all depends on ground and air temps.

You will need to make sure your site is prepared for seeding prior to snow fall, as you would a typical spring or fall seeding.  

Starter fertilizer is not needed, since the grass is not actively growing, but be sure to get some fertilizer (without crabgrass or broadleaf herbicides!!!) down after the ground thaws to help give the new seedlings a good spring boost.

Simply broadcast the seed at the rates recommended, sit back (enjoy a hot chocolate) and wait for spring.   

Sound strange? How does it work? When the ground freezes and thaws during the winter months, the earth heaves and cracks, eventually making room for seed to fall into the soil where it will wait in a DORMANT STATE for warmer weather to germinate in the spring.  

Some challenges to consider with dormant seeding (overall, less challenges than spring though!): 

  • Birds love seed and since food is scarce in the winter you may get some visitors. You might try seeding in the later winter months (February or early March) for better results.
  • If we get an early sprig warm-up followed by winter settling back in again, there is potential for snow or freezing AFTER the seed has started to germinate.   
  • You won’t be able to use certain herbicides — such as pre-emergent crabgrass herbicides — until after the new grass’s roots system has grown enough to have been mowed at least 2-3 times.  

Unsure about trying a dormant seeding? Try sodding instead.

We harvest sod well into November and sometimes as late as December. The cooler months give off just the right amount of hydration so little water is needed during this time. As long as the site is prepared, you can lay it on frozen ground, the sod will go dormant, and it will “wake up” and finish rooting in the spring. (Surprising, huh?) 

Read more on seeding here: Late July / Early August UPDATE – The Window of Time for Fall Grass Seed Planting Will Be Here and Gone Before You Know It!

FROM THE RED HEN FAQ VAULT: Soils for Lawn – Considerations for Seeding and Sodding

Red Hen’s Grass Seeding Quiz

Until next time, Michelle & The Red Hen Crew!

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Thatch Problem? or Not a Thatch Problem? … IS THAT THE QUESTION???

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by Lisa Courtney, Customer Support, Red Hen Turf Farm

At certain points throughout the year, we start getting calls asking, “Do I need to be thatching my yard? It looks like I’ve got a LOT of thatch.”

So, what is thatch?

First of all, healthy grass can have a small amount thatch. Some is good, more is not. Most lawns do have thatch, and in small amounts it’s kind of like the padding under a carpet, providing a resilient, springy surface to walk on. It is thick EXCESSIVE THATCH that gives this normal aspect of lawns a bad name.

Thatch is a layer under the growing grass you see, comprised of an intermingled layer of lawn clippings and other living and dead plant stems, leaves, and root matter that gather at the base of the grass, between the soil and green vegetation.

Thatch does not necessarily mean you will have issues – it’s more about HOW MUCH thatch is present. You only have a “thatch problem” if the thatch layer gets so thick so that water and air have trouble getting to grass roots.

EXCESSIVE THATCH comes about from practices that make the grass grow faster that soil organisms can break it down, or that reduce beneficial soil organisms such as earthworms, insects, and microscopic species. The practices that cause the type of overly-rapid growth that can lead to EXCESSIVE THATCH include over-fertilizing, over-watering, and/or causing soil compaction.

EXCESSIVE THATCH may:

  • Prevent water, air, and nutrients from reaching the soil and grass plant’s root zone,
  • Reduce tolerance to drought and temperature extremes
  • Provide a protective environment for insect pests like webworm larvae, chinch bugs, and billbugs
  • Provide an environment that encourages fungus disease
  • Prevent some insecticides and herbicides from penetrating the soil, which makes them ineffective
  • Obstruct overseeding

A thin ¼-½ inch layer of thatch actually can provide benefits like surface cushioning, greater tolerance to wear and tear, and better temperature moderation.

EXCESSIVE THATCH of 1 inch or more can, however, cause a host of lawn problems. Grass varieties that tend to produce thatch more slowly are fescues and perennial ryegrass, whereas grasses like zoysia, Bermuda, and bluegrass tend to produce more thatch.


The GOOD NEWS is that in most cases, people really don’t have an EXCESSIVE THATCH PROBLEM at all. How can you tell?

  • If you mow frequently enough so as not to remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at a single mowing where you’re cutting less than 1 inch of the leaf blade, the clipping will disperse and and decompose with sunlight and moisture quite quickly …. LONG BEFORE they can accumulate and become “excessive thatch”
  • If, on the other hand, you are not mowing regularly and end up cutting more than about 1 inch of the blade, it takes longer for these clippings to decompose and they can suffocate your lawn.
  • Get a little hands on! Whenever you mow, take a minute to scout things out, like a Farmer does for their crops. Use your finger to dig down around the base of your grass plants. If all you find is bare dirt, then you do not have an excessive thatch problem. Check again a couple of days after you mow. The clippings you leave should be barely noticeable.
  • If you wanted to measure the thickness of thatch (and again, healthy grass has thatch!), poke around the grass until you find the brown layer near the bottom of the grass blade. With your finger or a stick, poke a hole through the brown layer to the top of the soil, and measure the thickness of the thatch. If your thach layer is less than 1/2? thick, it’s not a problem, and you can leave the grass alone.

If you’re still a little skeptical about leaving your clippings on your lawn after mowing, Regional Turfgrass Experts at Purdue University explain:

Clipping removal is generally not recommended on most turfgrass areas. Clippings do not contribute to thatch because they are primarily water and break down quickly. Furthermore, returning clippings will recycle valuable nutrients to the soil thereby reducing fertilizer requirements. Clippings are not harmful if your mower spreads them evenly and if they are not thick enough to shade the grass below. Mulching mowers are recommended, but research suggests that mulching mowers increase clipping breakdown only slightly faster than conventional side-discharge mowers when used on cool-season turfgrasses. Catching clippings is labor and time intensive and should only be done if the clippings are used for mulch or compost.

~ via Purdue University Turf Science Department of Agronomy Publication Ay-8-W, “Mowing, Dethatching, Aerifying Mowing, Dethatching, Aerifying and Rolling Turf and Rolling Turf”

Purdue’s experts also offer this advice:

Yard waste materials such as grass clippings, leaves, and yard trimmings make up approximately 10% (by volume) of the municipal waste stream, according to Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management. Yard waste can account for 50% or more of residential solid waste during the active growing season. Although this waste is biodegradable, landfills do not get the oxygen and water needed for breakdown. Landfills are constructed to prevent movement of air and moisture in order to protect the surrounding environment. These materials can be better put to use enhancing our gardens and landscapes.

***

Leaving grass clippings on the lawn rather than bagging for disposal is an excellent way to dramatically reduce yard waste. The amount of grass clippings generated from a given lawn varies, depending on the grass species, weather, fertilization program, and yard size. One estimate indicates that 5,000 square feet of lawn generates about 1 ton of clippings per year! Grass clippings left on the lawn are not harmful to the turf if it is mowed at the proper height and frequency. In fact, the clippings will return some nutrients back to the soil, reducing fertilizer requirements. Contrary to popular belief, grass clippings do not contribute to thatch buildup because they break down quite rapidly. Thatch is composed of dead, decomposing roots, and underground stems.

~ via Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, West Lafayette, IN, Publication ID-182-W, “Managing Yard Wastes: Clippings and Compost”

So, the RIGHT QUESTION to ask is, “Do I have an EXCESSIVE THATCH problem?” and the answer is often No, but proper assessment is the only way to tell for sure.

You can LEARN MORE, including how to DETHATCH if you need to, by clicking on the links blow


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More Adventures in Installing Sod – Part 2

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By Michelle Sadowski, Customer Service Specialist, Red Hen Turf Farm

In Part 1 of this story, I shared my experiences as I planned for, prepared for, and installed my new Tall Fescue sod, and then worked to keep it watered enough for the very hot and dry July we had in 2018.

If you missed Part 1, which we shared this past May 2019, HERE’S THE LINK.  Now, in late August 2019, as things are slowing down a bit this week, I wanted to take advantage of a little extra time and share Part 2.

It was getting closer and closer to my big party last year in August 2018, when I decided it was a good time to boost with another round of starter fertilizer to really bring out the best my Tall Fescue sod had to offer my guests.

So on a nice cool afternoon, after a few glasses of wine, I started my fertilization.  Right away I knew something wasn’t right … too much fertilizer was coming out of my spreader! I accidentally dumped the starter fertilizer all over the place – and before I could catch it it was too late.

My first instinct was to get the shop vac. But instead I tried watering it down.  I should have chosen the shop vac because watering only made it worse.

I sat back and did the only thing I could do at the moment. I had another glass of wine. How could I have dumped all that fertilizer out? What was going to happen?  Actually, since I work at Red Hen, I knew what was going to happen.

And it happened in a matter of days, just like that. I burned my lawn only a couple weeks before the big party.

Fertilizing and wine do not mix! Be careful to check your spreader for the right setting, too!

The party came and went and no one even really cared about the chemical burn on my newly installed lawn.  It was already starting to repair itself. I was so impressed and amazed at its repairing ability.  Still, I didn’t have high expectations after the chemical burn, and figured I’d seed the bare spots at the end of August (the ideal time to seed in the midwest is typically August 15 – September 15).  But as September rolled around, my turf had nearly repaired itself completely without any assistance.  There were several small spots I had to remove dead grass and re-seed but I was very happy to see the sod had repaired itself so well.

Critters.

By mid to late August, the turf looked great.  In September, just as it was repairing from the chemical burn, I was inspecting my new turf like I did often when walking on it.  Suddenly, the ground beneath my feet sunk through the turf into runs of tunnels left by critters.   After some investigating and attempts to trap what we thought were moles, we found the culprits to be ground squirrels or chipmunks – there is a difference but we couldn’t figure out which ones were creating the damage.  We had at least a dozen or more all over the yard … under the decks, in the mulch, in the garage, everywhere.

Of course, I did some internet searching that included the word “Purdue” since – because I work at Red Hen – I know that Purdue University Extension provides a huge amount of FREE, REGIONAL and SCIENCE-BASED information on all sorts of topics including lawn care and wildlife management, and Googling the terms Purdue Chipmunk Squirrel led me to THIS GUIDE and THIS GUIDE to find out how to get rid of these rascals.

After doing some reading, the very first thing we did was take away their food source.  Eventually with some other trapping methods, we were able to eliminate most of the critters. We also LIGHTLY rolled the turf daily until we felt the problem was eliminated.

By the end of September 2018, the Tall Fescue Sod was improving, but the damages were evident.  I was hoping for another round of amazing self-repair.

Our turf at the end of September repairing itself after underground critters wreaked havoc.

By the end of October 2018, my new sod had filled in again!  I couldn’t believe it.  It was so green.  Sure, there were a few bare spots, but after everything this turf had gone through, it bounced right back.

One thing I didn’t get a chance to do was to get a fall/winter fertilizer treatment down. In general, Tall Fescue sod needs less fertilizer than Kentucky Bluegrass sod to maintain it’s best condition, and especially since mine is in a shady area, it would need even less fertilizer. I was confident that a good spring fertilizer would do wonders, and as I write this in August of 2019, I can happily say that I was right.

Because we have critters, oaks and other problematic trees in this particular part of the yard, we’re always going to have some issues and cleanup to do.  But in the end, we’ve got a gorgeous backyard we can enjoy.

And as long as I continued to follow Jeremy’s advice, “Mow right, water right and fertilize right,” I think I’ve got this.

This was a great learning experience for me, and with the help from my co-workers I will continue to learn more and more.

It also makes it easier to tell our customers, I’ve been there, done that – and here’s what I did to correct it.

Sometimes you just have to wait to see what happens.

Grass is funny like that.

It takes time to grow.

October 30 – our tall fescue turf is looks amazing!

Hopefully you have learned a little bit from my experiences and maybe you can relate to (or laugh at) some of my failures.

Either way, don’t let it get to you.  It’s just grass.

Until next time,

~Michelle & The Red Hen Crew!Facebookpinterestlinkedinmail

Holy Mole-y!

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One of the problems a lot of homeowners face this time of year (approaching fall) is moles. The worst part about finding moles in your yard is the damage it does to your turf. I noticed a few soft spots in my front yard and upon further investigation, realized we had a mole issue. A few days later, after trying to locate the mole trap, the runs had gotten much worse. My yard was starting to look like a war zone. And mowing after you’ve experienced moles in your yard? I wouldn’t recommend it until you’ve rolled the areas first otherwise you will be mowing mounds of dirt.

After a few discussions with the husband about where to put the trap, he won the argument and by the next day he finally got his mole. He was quite proud of himself and made sure he sent me a picture of the set trap. It’s not a pretty scene, and the trap does kill the mole. It’s not something I want to see, so I leave the disposal to my husband. He decided to leave the little guy in the ground as a “warning” to his other friends. (Insert eye roll here).

A harpoon trap after a mole had triggered it. RIP Mole

By the time we finally trapped the mole, the damage was evident. Rolling and re-seeding were in my immediate future. And lucky me, I know just where to get my seed! But when is the best time to seed? It’s now. (typically between August 15 & September 15). Read more about seeding here: Late July/Early August Update-The Window of Time for Fall Grass Seed Planting Will Be Here and Gone Before You Know It!

Rolling turf after mole damage is necessary. Areas also may need to be re-seeded or sodded.

For now, we’ll have to keep an eye on the yard to see if any new holes pop up. We’re also moving around the trap just in case there are others still lurking underneath.

Using a harpoon trap is a common method of mole control. You can see the damage the moles runs have made in my yard.

When customers come in and ask advice about getting rid of moles the first thing they say is they need to buy grub herbicide. There was a time I believed that too. But I was wrong. I got the facts and read the real, science-based, regional facts from Purdue’s publication here: Moles

Moles’ diet consists mostly of earthworms, so if you believe they are after the grubs, you may think applying a grub herbicide seems like the logical thing to do, but it’s not. There are other things you can try before you go purchasing an expensive product that you may not even need.

Grubs are a whole other topic – read about them here: Red Hen Blog/Grubs!

As Purdue’s publication states, trapping is the most reliable method of mole control. All the other urban myths you may have heard such as pouring Listerine down the holes or using ultrasonic devices are all just a waste of money. Here is a great read from Timothy Gibb-Purdue’s entomologist: Moles, myths, and misconceptions.

Locating the main runways in which to set your trap is key. Purdue’s publication goes into detail about which runs are best. Patience and perseverance are important during the trapping process. The only other source of control that we suggest is Tom Cat poison worms that mimic earthworms, which is the moles’ main diet. I have not tried that because I have pets but both the trap and poison can be purchased at hardware stores or Amazon.

~Michelle Sadowski, Customer Service Specialist

Call us if you have questions about moles, grubs, seeding and more! 574-232-6811

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MID to LATE-SUMMER CRABGRASS CONTROL TIPS (from the Red Hen FAQ Vault – The 2019 Update)

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Crabgrass Photo by Michigan State University Extension

Crabgrass Photo by Michigan State University Extension

Getting right to crabgrass … it’s looking to be bad this year! From site visits and talking to quite a few landscapers and customers, with the sporadic weather / precipitation patterns this year, I believe that non-irrigated lawns are seeing the most dramatic turf-decline this year, and on a related note, the brunt of crabgrass germination. We have definitely seen a lot of customer photos this year of grass-type weeds in general.

The best way to control crabgrass is to maintain a dense, healthy turf. That way, your grass is more likely to out-compete crabgrass (and other weeds), preventing weeds from establishing. On the other hand, crabgrass tends to have rigorous survival and reproductive capabilities.

So, for lawns, it may be unrealistic to expect a crabgrass-free lawn (BUT YOU CAN TRY!)

It may be that, in the end, you will have to accept a few crabgrass plants.

Are you dealing with crabgrass at this point in the year?

Do you want to get this weed under control?

If so, we recommend following of these 2 Options to hopefully put you in a better position by next spring:

Option 1. Let the crabgrass go for now, and wait until fall and let Mother Nature kill it off. After mid-July, crabgrass plants are usually too large to control effectively. Crabgrass begins flowering and setting seed in July and will die out with the first major frost. It will take a while for these plants to decay, but at least you won’t see any in the spring. That is, unless you have allowed the crabgrass to go to seed this year, in which case you will be dealing with those seeds germinating next spring.

Option 2. As Purdue Extension points out, “Proper fertility, mowing, and irrigation is essential for crabgrass control; consider herbicidal control only if necessary.” If you are not able to tolerate the crabgrass in your lawn, we specifically recommend using a product that we carry called Q4 (CLICK HERE to read the label). Here at Red Hen Turf Farm, we really like a product called Q4 because it covers all 3 major types of undesirable weeds all in one bottle — grassy weeds, broadleaf weeds, and sedges. If there was only one herbicide product that I could use on my lawn, it would be Q4.

For better crabgrass and broadleaf weed control next year, you’d really need to do some strategizing over the next few months.

For example, by adding 25-0-10 fertilizer to your lawn two times from now until winter, this should make your lawn much less weedy going into the 2020 growing season.

WHY IS THIS? The thicker and stronger your grass is grass is, the better your grass can out-compete weeds. Regular fertilizing is one of the important steps towards making that happen.

Have you ever wondered why is it that we don’t see a lot of fertilizer commercials in the fall, like we do in the spring?

My guess is that the marketing teams for the big name brands do not use turf science, but are instead driven by the purchasing habits of homeowners (for better or worse).

Our job at Red Hen Turf Farm is always to strive to save our customers time, money, and/or both. So, let’s use some turf science and feed your lawn when it needs it the most.

If you told me that you only wanted to fertilize 1 or 2 times each year, you might expect I’d recommend doing it in the spring, but actually that’s not the case.

In fact, you would get the most bang for your buck by fertilizing in September and then again in November. Are you surprised? We wrote a blog about this very topic that you might want to check out by CLICKING HERE. We have also written quite a bit about crabgrass in the past, which you can read by CLICKING HERE.

And guess what? It’s all based on turf science, with Purdue Extension as a major source that we consult, and we always recommend that our customers do the same.Facebookpinterestlinkedinmail

Children’s Books with a RED HEN Theme – A List by Red Hen Turf Farm

FacebookpinterestlinkedinmailSo, today I was reminded about how we’re often asked if there are Hens or Chickens or any animals at all at Red Hen Turf Farm, and that’s a fair question!

Alas, there are no Red Hens running around our farm.

The Red Hen we’re named after is from the folk tale, The Little Red Hen.  You know … the one where none of the other farm animals want to help the Little Red Hen grow wheat from some grains she finds, then harvest it, thresh it, mill it into flour, and then bake the flour into a yummy bread.

The animals want someone else to do the hard work, but they want to enjoy the fruits of the Little Red Hen’s labors.  Red Hen ultimately tells the other animals they cannot eat the bread since they did not do any of the work, but MAYBE if they had enough money or goods to make it worth her time, it would have been another story.

It was back in the 1950’s when the original owners of our Farm, Ron and Victor Keigley and Harold Hetler, started growing turfgrass sod for themselves, but then their neighbors saw the beautiful results and wanted some, too.

As a twist on the old folk tale, at Red Hen Turf Farm, we are GROWING FOR OTHERS who want a beautiful instant lawn when it takes nearly 2 years of hard work for us to grow grass from seed into a thick turf that can be harvested into rolls.

Do you remember the story of The Little Red Hen?  Did you have a favorite book version? There are LOTS!

I’m especially fond of the Golden Book version by Diane Muldrow and JP Miller (first published in 1954) since this is the one I first grew up with.

Paul Galdone’s The Little Red Hen (1973) is another classic version of this tale.

More recently, there’s Jerry Pinkney’s The Little Red Hen (2006), which has especially wonderful watercolor illustrations.

There are MANY more versions of The Little Red Hen tale, but let’s switch focus onto a few spin-offs off this story.

Barbara Barbieri McGrath and illustrator Martha Alexander’s The Little Green Witch (2006) retells the story when a little green witch cannot get her lazy monster friends to help her make a pumpkin pie.

In The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens and illustrated by Susan Stevens Crummel (2011), there’s a mountain of homework and Little Red Pen tries to get her fellow school supplies to help her out.

In Candace Fleming’s and illustrator, Sally Anne Lambert’s Gator Gumbo: A Spicy Hot Tale (2004), Monsieur Gator is getting so old that he can only catch leaves, moss, and roots. He is teased by the other animals day after day, and finally decides to whip up a pot of gumbo.  None of the animals will help him so he does it all by himself.  Of course, when the gumbo’s done, the other animals want some, but instead Monsieur Gator teaches them a lesson.

In Armadilly Chili by Helen Ketterman and illustrated by Will Terry (2004), Miss Billie Armadilly wants to make some chili, but as we would expect in this Texas prairie spin-off of The Little Red Hen, all of her animal friends are too busy to help.  She decides to eat it by herself one cold night, but the smell brings her friends one by one to her door, bringing dishes of their own to share.

And finally, while I could keep going with this list for quite a long time, I’ll end with Help Yourself, Little Red Hen! (Another Point of View) by Alvin Granowsky and illustrated by Wendy Edelson (1995).   This version is told by the pig, and tells how the true backstory of this classic folktale is that Little Red Hen never does anything for herself and that the other animals do all of the work for her.  When Little Red Hen finds the grain of wheat that leads her to plant it and eventually bake it up into something yummy, the other animals decide it’s time for her to learn to help herself.

Happy Reading!

– Lisa, and the Crew at Red Hen Turf FarmFacebookpinterestlinkedinmail

Top 5 Reasons Why Your Fertilizer Isn’t Performing Like You Think It Should – the 2019 Update

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1. Quality.
To save money, the big mass merchandisers have diluted their products so much they no longer deliver the essential nutrients grass plants in the Michiana area need. Because of these watered down “programs”, we have been getting more and more calls about lawn programs that can be traced back to these insufficient products.  At Red Hen Turf Farm, we believe we can offer customers better fertilizing products at better prices than they are paying at big box stores.

2. Over-Measuring or Under-Measuring the Area of Your Lawn.
So, your fertilizer bag label or your soil test results tell you to apply a certain amount of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet and you’re confused about what to do next. The questions run through your head … “How large is 1,000 square feet? How much fertilizer do I need to buy? How do I know if my spreader is putting on the correct amount?”  The first step is to determine the area or square footage of your lawn or garden space. You could use good old-fashioned math problems to calculate the area (REMEMBER GEOMETRY CLASS?), or you could use Red Hen’s Sod Calculator via our website – but that would mean you’d have to take some measurements.

Even easier, and probably “accurate enough” is a Website and App called Lawn Crack Area CalculatorSimply type in your address, find your lawn on the map, and click around the edges and Lawn Crack calculates the area for you.  It probably won’t be 100% accurate, but we’ve been using this tool for a few months and are pleased with how close it usually is.

3. Spreader Calibration.
So, back to the question of “How do I know if my spreader is putting on the correct amount?”  There are so many brands of spreaders, and each one seems to have it’s own settings.  You could try checking the website of the company that manufactured your spreader for the right spreader settings. But even then, how do you really know if the settings are accurate?  Spreaders must be properly calibrated if they are to deliver granular fertilizers and pesticides to turf at correct rates. As spreaders become older and worn, re-calibration ensures you obtain the best results.  Visit Red Hen’s PDF Library and read our whitepaper, “Fertilizer Tips & How to Calibrate that Darn Spreader” to learn more.

4. Soil Testing
You should only apply the nutrients that your lawn needs, but how do you really KNOW what nutrients your lawn needs?  The answers are in the chemistry of the soil, and every lawn has a unique chemical history.  The only way to really know what nutrients your lawn needs is by SOIL TESTING. A soil test of your lawn is a key step, especially if you are particular about your lawn or have grass problems. We recommend that you do a soil test every 3 years.  If you use our soil testing procedures, we’ll provide you with a kit that you’ll mail to a certified lab.  The postage and payment to the lab will end up costing you under $15 for a single sample. The results are sent to us and we will translate them into layman’s terms, using this information as an important piece of the puzzle for us to create a Customized Fertilizer Program, designed just for you.  Once we’ve designed your fertilizer program, we can even give you reminders by phone or email for when it’s time for your next application.

5. Timing.
In so many different ways, TIMING plays an important role when fertilizing you lawn.  For some fertilizer products, the instructions tell you to apply on dry grass – so if rain is in the forecast, timing could be especially critical.  Some products may even instruct you to water-in the fertilizer, so timing your application around rain could save you from having to use your sprinkler.  Fertilizers with added Herbicides or Pesticides work when applied around a specific point in the life cycle of the pest you are trying to eliminate – so again TIMING is important.  For example, you can read our previous Blog to learn more about how time is of the essence when it comes to treating potential white grub infestations.  Timing is also important when it comes to the seasonal life-cycle of your grass since you want to fertilize when the roots are actively growing (which is NOT year-round).

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12 Quick Tips to Make Your Lawn Look Its Best, The 2019 Update

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Red Hen Turf Farm PRESENTS ... 12 Quick Tips to Make Your Lawn Look Its Best

1.    Mowing 
The best height to keep grass for our area is 2-1/2 to 3 inches high. Mow when the grass grows out ½ to ¾ inch.

  • BONUSCLICK HERE for Purdue Extension’s free publication on Mowing, Thatching, Aerifying, and Rolling Turf …
  • EXTRA BONUS: CLICK HERE for The Lawn Institute’s guidelines on Mowing

2.    Fertilizing (and Liming)
The first rule of fertilizing is to read the label of the product you are using.  Two more important factors to consider when fertilizing your lawn are HOW MUCH and WHEN to apply.

Experts recommend an ANNUAL TOTAL 2-4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet throughout each growing season for most established full-sun lawns (Kentucky bluegrass; Kentucky bluegrass mixed with perennial ryegrass and/or fine fescue) in Michiana. Ideally, your annual total of nitrogen should be split into 2-5 applications, with each single application of nitrogen being about 1 pound per 1,000 sq. ft.  For established shade lawns, about half as much nitrogen is suggested.

On the flipside, how often you fertilize affects not only lawn appearance, but also its maintenance level. The more often you fertilize, the more you’ll have to mow, for instance.

About applying lime … Red Hen Turf Farm does NOT recommend that you blindly follow this annual ritual unless you have done a recent soil test that indicates you need to adjust your soil pH.   While lot of so-called “experts” recommend lime (especially in the fall) as a way of adjusting the pH of your soil to make it less acidic, we don’t agree with this advice.  The idea behind liming your lawn is that you are trying to raise the soil pH near neutral to increase the availability of most plant nutrients.  While proper soil pH is necessary to achieve a healthy, attractive lawn, most Indiana soils under turfgrass do not need liming. 

THE BOTTOM LINE:  At Red Hen Turf Farm, we feel that the reality is that every single lawn has its own unique needs, so we recommend that you do a soil test every 3 years. If you use our soil testing procedures, we’ll provide you with a kit that you’ll mail to a certified lab.  The cost is $25 for a single sample, and $10 for each additional sample. The results are sent to us and we will translate them into layman’s terms, using this
information as an important piece of the puzzle for us to create a Customized Fertilizer Program, designed just for you

  • BONUS:  Learn how Red Hen Turf Farm can help you get your soil tested AND help design YOUR Customized Fertilizer Program by CLICKING HERE … And, Yes, we do sell high quality Fertilizer, and people seem to love the results, especially at our competitive prices Here’s our 2019 Price List.

3.    Watering 
Very few people who have an “automatic” sprinkler system water turf properly. Most end up over-watering! You should water when the soil is dry to a depth of 4 inches and then water long enough to wet the soil 4 inches deep. Looking at the soil is the best way to tell how moist it is. Invest in a soil probe! Avoid watering in the late afternoon or early evening.

  • BONUS: Check out Purdue Extension’s free publication, “Irrigation Practices for Homelawns” by CLICKING HERE
  • EXTRA BONUS: CLICK HERE for The Lawn Institute’s guidelines on why you may want to consider letting your grass go dormant during periods of drought or more extreme heat, such as what’s typical in late July / early August in the NW Indiana / surrounding regions.

4.    Shade 
There is no grass that likes shade. Turf is poor in shade for two reasons:

  • One is lack of quality and quantity of sunlight present and
  • The other is reduced air movement that keeps sun or wind from drying wet leaves.

Lessen shade and increase air flow for better grass. You can have either healthy grass or shade, not both…

  • BONUS: Learn more about trying to grow Grass in Shade via our website by CLICKING HERE

5.    Grubs
Most people are caught up in the hype of killing every grub. The truth is that most grubs do VERY LITTLE HARM, and it’s completely normal to have SOME grubs in your lawn … in fact, all lawns have grubs! It takes 5 or more per square foot to cause problems. Protect the environment and save some $$ by eliminating or reduce the size of preventative applications. If you are sure you have “grub problem,” there are a number of pesticides with varying efficacy depending on when you apply them.  For example, we currently carry a combination fertilizer / grub control product – 15-0-3 PLUS IMI  (“PLUS IMI” means that the 15-0-3 fertilizer has an added chemical called “Imidacloprid,” a widely used and powerful insecticide that can also affect non-targeted beneficial insects.)  We carry the 15-0-3 as well as a granular insecticide without a fertilizer “built in” called Dylox 6.2.

  • BONUS:  CLICK HERE to read our previous blog post on the topic of Grubs … especially if you think you might have a true “grub problem”, including the times of the year that are most effective for treating the affected area.

Click on the Image to Read Purdue Extension's "New White Grub Pests of Indiana"

Click on the Image to Read Purdue Extension’s “New White Grub Pests of Indiana”

6.    Moles 
The primary diet of moles is earthworms, not grubs!  Old fashioned traps and gell baits that mimic worms are the only things that work.  Tomcat mole killer is a brand that Purdue Extension recommends.

7.    Thatch 
Thatch is the dark cocoa brown material that is below the green and above the soil. It is created by the death of old plant parts that are below the mowing height. Clippings do not produce thatch! 

How much thatch is ok?  Up to ½ inch of thatch is ideal and greater amounts are bad. Increasing levels of thatch are caused by over applications of fertilizer and water.Multiple passes (8 or more) with a core aerifier in September for a 2 or more years along with management changes can reduce thatch.

8.    Dog spots 
Pick up the feces and for urine, dump some water on the spot if you observe the act. Re-seed or sod as there is no resistant grass for this area. Despite what you may have heard, we, along with Dr. Steve Thompson, DVM, Director of Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Wellness Clinic, do not recommend changing your dog’s diet without consulting your own vet first. It is either dogs or turf!

  • BONUS: Read Dr. Thompson’s article, “Dog-Gone-It Lawn Problems!” by CLICKING HERE

9.    Weed control 
The best way to prevent weeds is to have thick turf that is mowed high and not over-watered. Grass will out-compete most weeds. By the way … moss is not an invading weed. Moss likes shade and tends to occur where turf is then (and thin turf usually ALSO accompanies shade conditions). You can’t fight Mother Nature, so the reality is that you will usually need to just live with the moss, or even give up on grass and install ornamental beds with shade loving plants. Another option is to cut down the trees to allow the grass to thrive, and you can read our website link on “Grass in Shade” to learn more.

10.    Crabgrass 
The best crabgrass preventer is to mow high and manage the turf so it is thick. TV adds scare people into applying outrageous amounts of herbicides that may not not needed! If you continually have a crabgrass problem, make a first application of a preventative herbicide in mid-April/early May, and a second application in late June. Red Hen carries Award-brand Fertilizer + Crabgrass Preventer

11.    Disease                           
Lawns that are mowed, watered, and fertilized properly have the fewest diseases. Disease outbreaks are the result of a combination of factors occurring at the same time. These factors include the presence of the pathogen, the status and vulnerability of the turf, and certain prevailing environmental conditions.  A prolonged period of hot, humid weather can cause occasional non-fatal outbreaks. The genetics of your grass play an important role in disease control. For example, newer varieties of Kentucky bluegrass (such as the ones that Red Hen Turf Farm uses in our 100% Kentucky bluegrass sod) have greater overall resistance compared to fescues, ryegrasses and old bluegrass varieties. 

To effectively control a lawn disease, first you need to accurately diagnose the problem  – BUT lawn diseases are hard to identify because the pathogens are typically microscopic.  Diagnosing lawn diseases is both an ART and a SCIENCE that requires a systematic approach. What we are able to observe is usually the RESULT of an infection, and not the pathogens themselves. In other words, if you are seeing patches of discoloration in your lawn, you could be seeing the RESULT of a lawn disease caused by a microscopic pathogen.  Another challenge to diagnosing the problem is TIME – if you can recognize the initial stages of the outbreak, this will greatly increase the likelihood that you can treat it and your lawn will recover.

If you decide to start applying chemicals to your lawn without first confirming what the disease is, this can be expensive decision and can actually cause more problems.  If you think you are seeing signs of disease in your lawn, we would recommend limiting yourself to scientific research-based resources.  Specifically, for this part of  mid-west Indiana, we endorse the following:

12.    Finding Reliable Answers                      
As we have already touched on, we feel that Googling random website or following word-of-mouth advice are not reliable ways of getting lawn care information.  Everyday, we talk to customers that have been following certain lawn practices their entire lives … and so often it turns out they were mis-informed.

There are so many “urban myths” out there, especially when it comes to the 11 topics discussed above.  If you’re ready to make sure that the information you know is based on science and research, you’d be best off limiting your resources to:

  • Purdue Extension / Department of Agronomy (up-to-date, research-based information, specific to our geographical location) – Online at www.agry.purdue.edu/turf
  • Michigan State University Extension (up-to-date, research-based information, specific to our geographical location)  – Online at https://www.canr.msu.edu/lawn_garden/resources
  • The Lawn Institute – While this site is not regionally-based, in 1955, The Lawn Institute was created as a not-for-profit corporation to assist and encourage through research and education the improvement of lawns and sports turf. Since then, the Institute has been one of the most respected authorities in the world among turf professionals and scientists for monitoring, reporting, and interpreting the latest advances in turfgrass research, landscape horticulture, and agronomic science. – Online at www.thelawninstitute.org
  • Red Hen Turf Farm’s website (our info is derived from Purdue / MSU Extension and other reliable sources, including decades of experience) – Online at www.redhenturf.com
  • Red Hen Turf Farm’s Customer Service Crew, especially Turf Operations Manager, Jeremy Cooper … our contact info is below!

CONTACT US

RED HEN TURF FARM is located at 29435 Darden Rd, New Carlisle IN – CHECK OUT OUR GOOGLE LANDING PAGE – WE’D LOVE TO GET A REVIEW FROM YOU WHILE YOU’RE THERE – HERE’s THE LINK
Phone
: 574-232-6811
Emailturf@redhenturf.com
Webwww.redhenturf.com

GET UPDATES when we publish new blog articles and share other helpful, timely tips SENT DIRECTLY TO YOUR EMAIL INBOX – It’s Easy to Subscribe to Red Hen’s E-Newsletter by CLICKING HERE

Red Hen Turf Farm – The Best Turf on Earth!  We grow & sell KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS SOD HARVESTED FARM-FRESH ON DEMAND in Northern Indiana, along with GRASS SEED, FERTILIZER, WEED CONTROL PRODUCTS & MORE to homeowners, landscapers, contractors, garden centers alike

Originally posted 6/6/14, Updated 5/12/17, Updated 4/17/18

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Adventures in Installing Sod for the First Time – Part 1

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By Michelle Sadowski, Customer Service Specialist, Red Hen Turf Farms

In the summer of 2018, I took on a D-I-Y project to sod my back yard.  Now that several months have passed, I can share my funny moments, achievements, and failures with all of you. It’s easy to give advice when you read from a script or manual on a daily basis,  but when you actually experience the complete prepare, install and care of sod, you get a better understanding what customers are going through first hand.

If I may start out by giving a bit of advice … if you have a smaller project like mine (1,800 Sq. Ft.), it’s manageable for the D-I-Y’er. If you’re working on a larger job, consider hiring a landscaper.  Landscapers have the equipment and manpower to get the job done easier and more efficiently. If you need a few leads on hiring a landscaper, just call Red Hen Turf Farm – 574-232-6811

I have a slight advantage over the typical residential homeowner.  I’ve been working for Red Hen Turf Farm for 2 seasons now, and I have been equipped with the knowledge of preparing, installing and caring for the sod day in and day out.  And if I really want advice or an answer I cannot find in my trusted sources (Purdue & Michigan State), I can easily just ask Jeremy, our Turf Operations Manager.  Although I am still very much learning the ropes, he knows pretty much everything there is to know about the turf industry, as well as other off topics I don’t need to know (but he tells me anyway).

When I expressed an interest in sodding my back yard, I wanted to make sure I chose the right type of (two) turf varieties Red Hen grows, harvests and sells, which are Kentucky Bluegrass sod and Rhizomatous Tall Fescue sod (also referred to as “RTF Sod” or simply “Tall Fescue Sod”). You can read a more in-depth article about our two turf varieties HERE – Red Hen’s 2 Choices for an INSTANT LAWN: Kentucky Bluegrass Sod vs. Rhizomatous Tall Fescue Sod.

Jeremy helped me choose the type of sod best suited for my project by asking me a few simple questions. These are some of the same questions we ask our customers to make sure their sod projects are successful, and include things like:

  1. Do you have irrigation in the area you are sodding? This is important because although both types need enough water to get established, fescue is drought tolerant and will bounce back better after a drought than Kentucky Bluegrass.
  2. What type of soil do you have? Is it closer to beach sand or hard clay? Again, this is important for the capacity to hold nutrients properly.  Sandy & clay soils need to be watered and fertilized a little differently as well. For more on SOILS, check out FROM THE RED HEN FAQ VAULT: Soils for Lawn – Considerations for Seeding and Sodding
  3. How many hours of direct sunlight does the area you want to sod actually get? Our fescue sod is not a “shade grass” like some people think.  Both turf grasses need direct sunlight to thrive.
  4. How much time and money do you realistically want to spend on maintenance?  Kentucky Bluegrass is a higher maintenance turf than fescue.  Fescue will need less water and fertilizer once it’s established than Kentucky Bluegrass.
Red Hen Turf Farm grows, harvests and sells 100% Kentucky Bluegrass AND Rhizomatous Tall Fescue. Kentucky Bluegrass makes up most of our sales, but the Fescue is another option for homeowners with little or no irrigation and/or want less maintenance.

The “BEFORE PHOTO” … We had a lot of work ahead of us including removing a fire-pit and walkway.

CHOOSING THE BEST-SUITED TURF TYPE

I knew that my backyard was not going to be the best fit for the Kentucky Bluegrass sod. There’s no in-ground irrigation, it’s got some shade and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money maintaining it.    I didn’t mind having an “imperfect” lawn, especially with our pesky squirrels and moles.  So I chose Rhizomatous Tall Fescue for the project. It was end of June when I decided it was time for my project to begin since I was planning a huge birthday party in August and I was on a time crunch.

Keep in mind that our Tall Fescue sod is not a shade grass – no grass likes shade.  However, in theory our Tall Fescue sod MAY do better in shaded areas than our KYB sod.

Ultimately, if your grass is thinning out due to shade, there are things you can do to improve your growing chances such as trim trees and create more airflow. Here’s a great link for those wondering about growing grass in shaded areas:  Red Hen’s Grass In Shade

INSPECTING THE SITE

I first wanted to make sure the soil was going to be fertile enough for my turf but I knew it would be fine because there was already grass growing in the area I was planning on sodding. The initial reason I wanted to sod is because I had large dirt patches everywhere. Seeding could have been an option but I am impatient. I didn’t want to wait a year to pass a “sock test” and who doesn’t want an beautiful, instant lawn?

We found out later (after closer inspection) the reason grass didn’t grow in certain areas was due to compaction and rocks under the soil. Grass doesn’t grow well on rocks or in compacted soils.  To learn how to correct compaction issues, Purdue has a great link here:  Mowing, Dethatching, Aerifying and Rolling Turf.

Rocks made grass impossible to grow next to our old driveway. It was a tough and long job to remove them to make way for turf.

My soil was on the sandy side, so I considered mixing topsoil in.  However, from what I have learned while working at Red Hen, I knew it was not necessary because I had success growing grass in that area before. Additionally, I knew our sod grew well in many types of soil as long as it was taken care of properly. I also learned that having sandy soil meant you may just have to water more frequently and in smaller amounts. Here’s a great Purdue article on sandy soils: Maintaining Lawns on Sandy Soil

When homeowners tell us they have new construction, we often suggest to mix topsoil in – just because (typically) with new construction the top layer of soil  (where a lot of the nutrients are) is often stripped out to make way for concrete, garages, homes and roads.  If you are unsure, always get a soil test before you seed or sod.
MEASURING

We recommend using a measuring wheel or other measuring tool designed for this purpose.  We have found that house plans/prints are not reliable enough when deciding how much sod to order.

Make sure you measure more than once and allow for any trimming.

Red Hen makes it easy to measure – just go here:  Measuring Tips  I measured a few times with a measuring wheel and after I got the same number twice, found 1,800 sq. ft. was the magic number.

You can also try using a website called Lawncrack to help you figure out the size of the area.  You simply type in your address into the Lawncrack Area Calculator, and an aerial view of your property pops up for you to draw the area you want to sod, while it calculates your square footage.  there are lots of trees on your property, it might not provide you a good enough aerial view.

You can use a measuring wheel like this for small projects, or a larger wheel for larger projects.

PREPPING THE SITE

We were finally ready to break ground.  I would suggest reading our instructions on Preparing, Patching and Installing sod.  It was end of June and it was very hot (90’s)  Jeremy did warn me about heat stresses on sod during these temps but I pushed forward with the project anyway.  I was able to hire a friend to scalp the remaining sod off the site. Using a sod cutter, it didn’t take any time for him to remove the upper layer of the lawn to get it down to bare dirt.  We removed the fire-pit and stone walkway, then we were ready for the tilling. Some landscapers suggest to use grass killer herbicide and till it up afterwards.  If you decide to go this route, ensure you pick a herbicide that allows you to replant grass or seed within the time frame you want to seed or sod.  (always read the label/instructions).  I had pets so I didn’t want to risk any harmful chemicals around them.

Renting a sod cutter is one way you can prepare your site for new sod.

Once the old grass was removed it was time for tilling and grading.  My husband rented a tiller and tilled the soil deep to about 4-6 inches.  We then took metal rakes and leveled the area into a smooth surface.

The final grade.

DELIVERY & INSTALLING

I made sure I planned ahead to order my sod, ensuring at least 4-5 days for scheduling.  It was July 5th.  My sod and enough starter fertilizer (12-12-12) to cover my area was set to arrive after lunch.

With a bit of planning and communication to the Red Hen Team about where the delivery semi would be parking and placing the pallets of sod, (HERE’s an article we recently wrote on that topic), our awesome Red Hen driver Bob, arrived promptly and set the pallets exactly where we needed them.

We were ready to start installing.

I fertilized the graded ground with starter fertilizer (12-12-12) at 8 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft so I used just about 15 pounds total for my 1,800 sq. ft. area.

An easy way to calculate how much fertilizer you need:  Take your total square footage divide it by 1,000 (sq.ft) then multiply it by the rate of the fertilizer.  IE: 1,800 sq. ft divided by 1,000 = 1.8 multiplied by the rate of the starter fert of 8 lbs per thousand sq. ft  equals 14.4 lbs needed for the entire area.

Not sure if your spreader is set to the right setting?  Click HERE for Red Hen’s Guide, Fer tilizing Tips & How to Calibrate that Darn Spreader.    I always tell our customers if you are unsure on the amount of fertilizer to use, go lighter to start.  Don’t go too heavy … you will see why in Part 2 of my story … 

And the work begins…

With help from a wheelbarrow, we hauled our sod to the opposite side of the yard to start our first long straight line of sod.  I made sure as the sod was put down, it was constantly soaked with water using my hose and sprinklers.

Since neither of us had installed sod before, it took us about 2 hours to install each of our three 600 Sq. Ft. pallets, whereas the average professional landscaper could probably do it in half of the time.    My husband hauled the sod and set each piece down, while I firmed up the seams and made sure each piece was deeply soaked with water, just like it says in Red Hen’s Early and Long-Term Care Guide.

We laid the sod making sure each seam was tight with the next until we had a completely installed lawn.   I was extra proud of the fact that I ended up being spot on with the measurements!  It took us about 7 hours total for the entire installation.  This included a few much needed water breaks. We were racing against a thunderstorm that was heading our way and we just made it in time for mother nature to help us with some watering.

Our project was coming along nicely!

WATERING, WATERING, WATERING

We kept the freshly installed sod deeply soaked for the first 5 days, then continued to monitor it everyday for any additional waterings.  As you might remember, July 2018 was extremely hot and dry, and during basically doughty weather, you will need to water your freshly installed sod more often so it does not dry out.

I made sure I watered early in the morning – between 4-6am because according to Purdue’s Irrigation Practices for Homelawns – “at this time water pressure
is usually the highest, there is little distortion of the watering pattern by wind, and the
amount of water lost to evaporation is negligible.”  On the other hand, if I was unable to water early in the day, I knew that watering at a less-ideal time was much better than skipping it altogether.

Although my new yard was Tall Fescue sod and, once fully established in a year or so, will be drought tolerant, all new sod (until it’s established) will need to be soaked with water for the first week to root properly, and even more so in the hotter temperatures like we were dealing with.  If you are unsure if your sod is getting enough water, lift up on a corner, see if the soil underneath is getting soaked through.  If it is not, water more. Here’s a great link on properly watering your lawn from Purdue: Irrigating Home Lawns

The finished project!

Throughout the hot month of July with no rain for several weeks,  it seemed no matter how much I watered, it just wasn’t enough. After all, my hose and sprinklers did not put out as much water compared to in-ground irrigation.  I was determined to keep my new sod green, but it had been a few weeks and the sod hadn’t even rooted in places. I started seeing a few brown spots so I took some pictures and showed Jeremy.  Just as I suspected, I still was not putting down enough water.  I had my watering cut out for me!

A few heat stressed areas were visible after a few weeks.

In the meantime,  at The Red Hen Office we were getting calls from customers who were having similar issues, even with irrigation systems on timers, we we knew it was the perfect time to write our blog, Irrigation, droughts – and strange weather … HOT, DRY SUMMER TURF TIPS from Red Hen Turf Farm.

It was difficult watching my sod turn brown during the hot weather. But just when I was losing hope, in early August cooler weather came around and Mother Nature graced us with some much needed rain, and guess what?  My fescue started repairing itself.  I was relieved and excited to see it come back to life.  I decided it was a good time to boost it with another round of starter fertilizer before my August party … and THAT’S WHERE MY NEXT ADVENTURE BEGINS in Part 2, which you can read HERE.

Until next time,

~Michelle & The Red Hen Crew!Facebookpinterestlinkedinmail