LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Katherine in Arizona on the line who’s dealing with an issue about how to replace dead sod. And Arizona is pretty darn hot, so tell us what’s going on.
KATHERINE: I live, actually, in the mountains in Arizona and so our issue is not the heat but the cold. And so what we’ve had happen is that we laid sod about eight years ago. And unbeknownst to us novice homeowners, it had mesh netting on the back side of the roll. And I don’t know if we were supposed to remove that or something but now the sod did not take to our climate and it has died.
And we would like to reseed or lay on some new sod or something like that. But in order to prepare the soil and till it and all of that, I just don’t know what to do. Because there’s this mesh netting all over the ground. And in some areas, it’s exposed and some areas, it isn’t. But I just wondered what your advice would be.
TOM: So the sod never really bit, so to speak? It never really grew through the mesh netting and connected with the soil below?
KATHERINE: Not really. I mean it did in some areas but it just did not grow well for our climate. It couldn’t handle the winters; it just wouldn’t recover.
TOM: Well, the first thing you want to do before you replace dead sod is perform a soil test. You can – sometimes, your county extension services and services like that will do the test for you. Or have a landscaper do the test. But you need to know what’s in that soil and how to adjust the pH to get it just right to reseed.
LESLIE: Yeah, to fertilize correctly and …
LESLIE: You know, in other words, you might not be giving it the stuff that it needs and it won’t grow.
TOM: Yeah, you’re working blind.
Now, the other thing to keep in mind when you replace dead sod is that the best time to do this is not at the beginning of summer. The best time to do this is in the fall when it’s a little cooler out. Because even if you did everything right and it started to grow, the intense heat that follows a month or two down the line will burn it out and kind of ruin all the good work that you did. So I would spend this summer getting the information that you need to kind of come up with a plan.
Now, in terms of whether or not you remove the old sod or not, if it’s really loose and disconnected and not really knitting – sort of sitting on top – then, in that case, I would take it out and then prep the soil below. If it has connected, then I would leave it.
Now, if you have sod – is it weedy? Is it also weedy, Katherine?
KATHERINE: There are lots of weeds. So it’s not so much the sod that’s the issue but it’s the plastic mesh netting, that was on the back side of the sod rolls, that’s there. And I just don’t know – can we till with that there or is that going to get all caught up in the tiller?
TOM: I think you probably can. In my experience, those types of backers are designed to stay there and not be removed. And they just sort of deteriorate naturally away.
KATHERINE: Hmm. OK.
TOM: So I don’t suspect that that would be an issue when you replace dead sod. Because otherwise, how would you ever lay it down?
KATHERINE: Right, right. Yeah, I don’t know. I didn’t know what was supposed to be common, just that it hasn’t degraded at all. After a year, it’s still totally there.
TOM: Well, here’s an idea: one of the things that you could do to replace dead sod is you could rent a seeding machine that slices the lawn. There are machines out there that will actually slice it and you – and drops the seed sort of into the slits and that will cut through it. But really, before you do any of that, the first thing to do is do a soil test and see what’s going on there.
LESLIE: Now, this way, you’ll know how to feed it, how to take care of it, when it’s going to want to be seeded. That will really answer a lot of questions for you.
KATHERINE: OK. That makes a lot of sense.
TOM: Yeah. And if the sod – if you end up deciding to leave the sod in place and if it gets really weedy, one thing you could do is something called a Roundup restoration to kill weeks. You can spray Roundup right on the sod and kill the sod and actually leave it in place. And then put the seed right up into the dead grass. It will hold it really well and it will resprout. And the Roundup will not prevent the new seed from taking root.
KATHERINE: OK, OK.
TOM: That’s called a “Roundup restoration.”
KATHERINE: Hmm. Alright. That makes sense.
TOM: Alright, Katherine. Good luck with that project. Let’s hope there’s some more green in your future.
KATHERINE: Yes, I hope so. Thank you.