Sod Farming Tips
Delta Bluegrass is a 2,000-acre farm in Stockton, Calif., that grows the flawless turf seen in upscale residential landscaping, golf courses and even sports stadiums.
Ed Zuckerman started in the late '70s with just a couple of acres of turf grown in the rich, dark soil of California's farming country. Now his business has grown into a sizable enterprise.
For the sod grown at Delta Bluegrass, the watering is carefully controlled and monitored. Months of growth are required before the roots are fully developed and the grass is ready for harvesting shipping out. In the meantime, the grass is cut on a regular schedule, and the clippings are vacuumed off.
Delta Bluegrass has a specialized sports-turf division that supplies turf to high schools, colleges and even pro sports facilities. These high-grade sports turfs are typically a bluegrass blend or Bermuda grass with highly specialized soil with a mix of imported sand. Sand-based turf is typically required for sports parks to allow for good drainage. This type of turf requires much more care than a typical lawn.
When buying turf-grass by the roll, Zuckerman recommends inspecting it to make sure that the grass has a good, mature root system, ensuring that the turf holds together well when rolled out. The edges should be crisply and cleanly cut. When the grass itself is inspected, it should be free of weeds or any sign of disease.
Zuckerman says his best tip for maintaining a healthy lawn is good irrigation management. Over-watering is one of the more common mistakes made in lawn care, and it's a mistake that is also costly and wasteful of a vital natural resource.
Ed also advises caution when it comes to mowing your lawn. Cutting too much can cause damage. He recommends cutting frequently enough that you only need to remove one third of the total blade height in any one mowing. So, for example, if the grass is 3 inches high, cut back only the top inch of blade height.
Fertilizing can help keep your lawn looking brighter and healthier with more color, thicker growth and enhanced hardiness. A key ingredient contributing to the lush growth above the ground is nitrogen. When considering a fertilizer to boost the "green" in your lawn, read the numbers on the bag. The first number in the series represents the nitrogen content. The other two numbers represent potassium and potash content. For the spring and fall, pick a fertilizer that has a high nitrogen content. In the summer, you might want to switch to a more "balanced" fertilizer with the numbers being closer to equal to one another.