04 May 2011

They Came, They Sod(ded)

With the mulch bagged, ground tilled, weeds pulled, dirt pile leveled, trees removed, good soil brought in, grading complete, new driveway poured, edging down, and sprinkler system installed, the time finally arrived to lay sod.

We chose palisades zoysia, a medium-leaf drought-tolerant variety that passed our recent toe test. Sod is one of the bigger expenses of our landscaping project, but fortunately, the installation charge was minimal, making it an easy decision not to do it ourselves. So, one morning last week, I left a yard of dirt...and over the next couple of hours, this happened:

And by the time I got home, the house was finally -- ten months after we moved in -- looking like a new home:

Okay, there are still telltale signs of ongoing work -- missing front walkway, empty planting beds -- but it's come a looooong way.

The two vertical pipes coming out of the gravel area will provide drip irrigation to the vegetable garden beds (which we need to build...and soon).

Here's the view from the kitchen. I'm still not used to seeing grass out there, and every time I look out, my first thought is that someone put in a mini-golf course in our backyard when we weren't looking.

The installation did have one hitch. We had estimated how much square footage we needed, but we came up about half a pallet short, leaving no sod for the narrow strip to the right of the driveway. So the installation took two days (and, unfortunately, two delivery fees), but we got 'er done. Since we only needed about half of that last pallet, we asked them to leave the rest by the house. I had planned to give it away on Craigslist, but when I took a look at the leftover, I saw an opportunity to fill in the bare patch in our neighbor's yard that resulted from a pre-demolition mishap (almost two years ago!).

Much better. It won't be a perfect match to his St. Augustine grass, but hopefully it will blend okay over time.

Laying that hundred or so square feet wasn't awful, but the experience of doing it reaffirmed that having someone else lay it was the right choice. I didn't even make any cuts -- I just used the pieces as they were and did my best to line up the edges with the contours of the bare patch. Doing the whole yard, with edges and curves and all, would have taken us forever.

We even had enough left over to add a few more rows around the side of the house. We plan to have stepping stones leading into gravel on the side of the house, but grass for the first few feet should work nicely (and tie in well with the grass next door once the seam fills in).

We are now in the process of giving the grass lots of water to help it "take." We wanted to get the sod in before it got too hot, but I also really wanted to have it in before the next rain so we didn't miss out on the goodness of free, untreated water (which is so much better for plants than city water) -- and with an afternoon of rain just hours after the last of the sod went in, we just made it under the wire. (Seriously, since we kicked our yard work into high gear at the beginning of March, I think we've only had one other brief rain event.) Because there obviously won't be enough rain to sustain the sod as it gets established, we applied to the city for a variance from the watering restrictions. We can now water every day (at any time) for ten days, then every other day (between 7 p.m. and 10 a.m.) for the next ten days, and then every third day for the last ten days of the variance period. (Then we'll be back under the regular rules, which allow watering two days a week between 7 p.m. and 10 a.m.) Hopefully the next month will be all the lawn needs to get established...just in time for the mowing chores to begin.

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