Tag Archives: sod

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.

The Install

It started like any other home improvement project that we have tackled. Careful planning resulted in a materials list and one quick trip to Home Depot in our truck for the required parts. Sure.

Actually, our irrigation system HAS been a topic of discussion for some time. I just failed to spend much time planning. Ultimately, we woke up on Saturday eager to make the most of our three day weekend. Tired of the weeds and dirt in the front yard, the decision was made to install an irrigation system. I scratched a few things out on a sheet of paper. Took a few measurements, made a few more notes, and we headed out. The first trip wasn’t so bad. We ended up with most of the pipe that we would need along with several of the fittings. Notice that I did not say that we had everything. Ultimately, my wife had to make three more trips back to the store to get more pipe, additional fittings, and finally, one last trip for a $0.48 fitting that was required for the last step. The finished project exceeded our expectations and we cannot wait to plant some sod.

This project was a good reminder to me that it is important to spend time planning an irrigation system. We were fortunate – in addition to the fact that I have had a formal irrigation design course, this was not the first time I had installed a system. That saved us a lot of time and resulted in a final product that I am proud of.

Here is a blog post from my wife that has her take on the project: Make it rain, or how to install your own DIY irrigation system.

Here is a time-lapse video of the installation. If there is sufficient interest, I will create a “How-To” for installing your own irrigation system.