Tag Archives: grass

Green side up!

There’s an old joke that used to go around when I was going to school in Iowa that involved a contractor who stopped by a house to visit with the homeowner about some planned repairs.  As they walked through the house the contractor suddenly opened the window and yells “Green side up!”.  The continued their discussion only to have the contractor open the window again and yell “Green side up!”  The homeowner was confused and asked why he kept doing that.  He explained that he had a crew of turfgrass students from Michigan across the road laying sod and they kept putting it in upside down.

It’s hard to believe that someone could lay sod incorrectly.  However, I have seen a number of cases over the years where it happens again and again.  Just last week I stopped by the stadium to visit with the athletic association administration and noticed a truck with sod outside the College of Journalism building where they were unloading sod.

At first, I didn’t think too much about it because the installation looked good from a distance.  I was curious what type of grass it was that they were planting so I grabbed my camera and started walking the site only to find a number of issues.

First, they were letting the newly-laid sod get too dry.  I know from my own personal experience that this is a recipe for failure.  You can see it wiling in this photo:

I walked a little further and then noticed something that really concerned me.  They had laid the sod in a number of different directions due to the shapes of the beds.  Where the pieces came together at odd angles there were HUGE deep holes.  They were deep enough that someone could easily twist an ankle.

You can see from the scale of my knife that they hole is about 4″ deep.  If nothing is done to fix this it could end up being a huge safety hazard.  It is something that can be addressed through addition of sand/soil to fill the voids.  The larger holes probably should have a piece of sod cut to fit.  Both of these approaches will require additional time/labor.

It would have been easier to lay it right the first time.

Has anyone seen Jinx?

Have you seen Jinx?
This lawn was nearly 8 inches tall in some places. Poor Jinx could hardly navigate the vegetation!

How many of you can relate to the picture above? Summer has arrived and along with it came warmer temperatures and higher humidity. By now, you are probably losing your ambition to get outside and mow your yard. As a result, your lawn which was once a peaceful oasis has become a jungle that is tall enough to lose your dog.

While it is not alway necessary to mow your lawn weekly, we are in the peak growing season for warm-season grasses. As a result, it may be necessary to mow more frequently to maintain the visual quality and ensure optimum disease and insect resistance. The rule of thumb when it comes to mowing your is to avoid removing more than 1/3 of the leaf tissue with each mowing. For instance, if you prefer to mow your yard at a 4” height (which is ideal for most St. Augustinegrass home lawns), you would need to mow again once the grass is approximately 5.5” tall. Removing more than 1/3 of the tissue stresses the plant and results in reduced root growth due to the loss of photosynthetic capacity. As root growth declines, the plants are unable to use the moisture and nutrient reserves in the soil efficiently. This is particularly important in areas with sporadic rainfall conditions.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have to remove an excessive amount of clippings (like those times when you seem to lose your dog in the yard), be sure to spread the clippings out evenly to avoid piles accumulating in localized areas. This can be achieved by raking or by mowing again to cut the clippings into smaller pieces and spread them out some more. Otherwise, the piles will limit access of the underlying plants to sunlight, which will result in yellowing of the turfgrass tissue that is trying to grow under the pile.

As always, take a few extra minutes to clean off the street, sidewalks, and driveway to limit or prevent the movement of clippings into the storm water drainage system. Turfgrass clippings are an excellent source of nutrients that, when mulched during mowing provide up to 1/3 of the nitrogen requirements of your lawn. However, if the clippings are allowed to reach the storm water system they can contribute significantly to the contamination of water bodies.

New fertilizer law in Wisconsin

Beginning April 1, 2010 retailers will no longer be displaying lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus fertilizer in Wisconsin under a new law that is designed  “to provide protection to Wisconsin’s lakes, rivers, streams and other water resources from phosphorus run-off.”  Phosphorous-containing fertilizers will still be available to individuals establishing/renovating turfgrass areas who are able to demonstrate a phosphorous deficiency in the soil through a soil test report.


It is interesting for me to follow these new developments.  Having lived in Wisconsin for nearly three years while working with the commercial horticulture industry in the Winnebago County  UW Extension office I had the opportunity to see the early stages of change that lead to this new law.  Comparing the changes that occurred in Wisconsin to the movement in Florida I see many similarities.  It will be interesting to see where the State of Florida is at in a couple years with regard to local/statewide laws controlling fertilization of turfgrass areas.

I should have known better

Let me start by stating the fact that I grew up in middle of the desert in Southern Idaho.  Seriously, the middle of the desert.  If you do not believe me, take a look for yourself. I used to live at the location that shows up on the map when you click through.  Fifteen miles from the nearest town.  More than a mile to the nearest neighbor.  My dogs have always had plenty of room to do their business.

Hopefully you will be able to forgive me for not foreseeing the potential market demand for a small patch of *green* space for your apartment-bound dog to “do his business.”  Chances are that if you are following my blog that you have read my post from December 6th discussing a product that I came across in the Dr. Foster and Smith catalog.  At the time, I thought nothing of it other than the fact that it gave me a chuckle to think of our100+ lb dogs (all three of them) using this little piece of artificial turf.  How short-sighted of me.

In the time that has past since I put that post up I have quickly realized that terms like “turf puppy pads” and/or “artificial turf puppy”  have resulted in a significant amount of the traffic that I get on my blog!!  I’m not kidding.  More people search for the artificial turf puppy pads than any other keywords that I have used.

That brings me to this post.  I am sitting in my hotel in Limerick, Ireland where I am going to be speaking at the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Ireland’s annual conference.  On my flight into Shannon from Newark I took some time to browse the SkyMall magazine and came across the following products.  I think they speak for themselves.

That’s right – one even comes with a fire hydrant and a pop-up sprinkler to rinse it after each use.  And I thought it was simple enough to just take your dog for a walk.

I would love to hear from anyone who has one of these.  Do they really work?  If so, please PLEASE send me pictures of it in use!

I couldn’t agree more!

Concerned by all of the brown surrounding you in the landscape?  The Gainesville Sun reached out to UF experts to address the concerns of many people throughout Florida for some insight.

I agree – now is not the time to panic.  One of my previous posts addressed this topic, and my opinion is still the same.  We just need to be patient and let nature take its course.  Over the next few weeks the soils will start warming up and the grasses should begin coming out of dormancy.  Want to learn more about lawn care?  Check this out: Homeowner Best Management Practices for the Home Lawn.