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Publication: Garden Guides
A Lawn in a Day

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                   GardenGuides Newsletter 
                        May 23, 2006

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When should you prune?
[From www.my-garden-supplies.com]

* Fruit trees: Prune in late winter or early spring before 
any buds begin to swell. Remove branches that are growing 
inward and all new sucker growth or limbs that are growing 
straight up. Sterilize pruners before switching to another 
tree to prevent spreading disease.
* Roses: Be sure to wear gloves when pruning roses! By late 
winter or very eary spring, all old shoots should be removed 
along with any very thin or spindly growth. Remove the canes 
that grow inward and leave anywhere from four to eight 
healthy canes. These can them be cut down to about 24 inches 
above the ground. Try to cut about an inch above a bud or 
strong shoot.   
* Deciduous trees: Pruning for proper growth is not usually 
necessary however if your trees require shaping, this should 
be done in  middle to late winter. Flowering type deciduous 
trees, such as a Dogwood, may be pruned lightly after flower-
* Deciduous Shrubs: These should be pruned following flower-
ing in the spring. Cut out any long or gangly branches and 
leave the limbs that lend to a pleasing overall shape. 
* Evergreen trees: These do not generally require pruning 
unless they make up a hedge and pruning is necessary for 
shaping. The best time to prune is after the vigorous growth 
in the spring and early summer otherwise your pruning will 
be overgrown in a matter of weeks.
* Evergreen shrubs: Prune after late winter or early spring, 
generally after the shrub has produced cones or berries.
* Berry bushes: Prune in late fall or early winter after 
the last of the berries have been harvested. Remove dead 
branches and to keep shape, severe pruning is not recommend-
* Red Raspberries: Cut back all older (darker) canes in the 
late fall or early spring, leaving the younger green shoots 
or suckers to grow and produce fruit the following spring. 
Black raspberries do not sucker and will fruit on the older 
* Grapes: Cut back in late fall after harvesting. European 
varieties require spur pruning. Train long branches as 
guides and then allow shoots or spurs from these guide 
branches to keep two buds each. The American variety, such 
as Concord, Delaware or Niagara, need cane pruning. So cut 
back all the long arms or canes so that each branch is just 
long enough to have about 9 or more buds. 
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A Lawn in a Day
by Marion Lyons
Don't despair if you've just moved into a new home that has 
compacted subsoil where a front lawn should be or if your 
old lawn looks like a worn-out rug. The time and effort 
required to create a lush green lawn are probably less than 
you think. How? By laying sod. 

Speed, Selection, and Easy Maintenance
Sod's big advantage over seed is speed. From soil preparation 
to final layout, it's possible to install a modest-sized sod 
lawn in one day. That's an appealing thought: dust and weeds 
in the morning and a green lawn in the evening! Sod has other 
features to recommend it, too.

Sure Selection
If you buy sod from a reputable local grower, you are 
guaranteed to get a grass that grows well in your area. The 
grower may offer several choices, from low to high mainten-
ance, for instance. Also, some improved varieties, such as 
'Tifgreen' Bermuda, are available only as sod.

You can lay sod at almost any time of year, even when the 
ground is slightly frozen or during the heat of summer 
(although you'll need to water more in summer). In compar-
ison, only spring and fall offer sufficiently favorable 
conditions for sowing most seed lawns, although late spring 
is good for seeding heat-lovers such as Bermuda and buffalo 

Smooth Start
Yes, you'll have to baby a new sod lawn for a couple of 
weeks, but that's far less time and effort than for a seeded 
lawn. Until new sod establishes roots in the soil, it needs 
watering twice a day, and sometimes more often, during hot 
weather. In comparison, keeping a newly seeded lawn moist 
may require a dozen waterings a day.


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Fewer Weeds
New sod lawns suffer only slightly from weed invasions. Most 
soils contain many weed seeds that are just waiting for the 
opportunity to grow, and right after you prepare and amend
soil, sow grass seed, and provide water, weed-growth 
conditions are perfect. Unless you've taken steps to elimi-
nate or reduce weed seeds in the soil before planting, weeds 
may overrun a seeded lawn.

Special Uses for Sod
Sod is especially useful where patches of lawn have become 
bare, weedy, or damaged. Winter use of street salt in north-
ern regions is one major cause of damage. After removing the 
threadbare turf and preparing the soil for planting, you can 
buy a roll or two of sod at a garden center and place it 
over the area. Again, a seeded lawn would take several weeks 
to fill in and look lush.

If erosion is a problem on a slope, no matter how gentle or 
steep the incline, sod is the better option. Its healthy, 
heavy root mat will withstand water runoff even before the 
lawn is fully established.

Where to Buy Sod
Especially in big cities, retail nurseries or landscape 
contractors are the best sources of sod. In some regions, 
homeowners can buy directly from a sod farm. Find suppliers 
in the yellow pages under "Sod" or "Sod & Sodding Service." 
Or ask your garden center for a recommendation.

Tell your dealer or sod farmer about the growing conditions 
at your site, such as heavy clay or sandy soil, and the 
amount and kind of shade or slope. Given extra site inform-
ation, sod growers can usually provide useful advice to 
help you avoid mistakes in either the choice of lawn type 
or installation.


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What's the Cost? Save by Installing Sod Yourself
Sod is sold by the square foot or square yard (9 square 
feet equal 1 square yard). Plan to pay about 15 to 35 cents 
per square foot for sod only; professional installation will 
add 30 to 50 percent to the cost.

Bluegrass and hybrid Bermuda grass are usually the cheapest 
because they're sold in the greatest quantities. The most 
expensive sods are slow-growing, specialty types like 
buffalo grass, which runs about 45 cents per square foot, 
and bent, which costs about $1.10 per square foot. Many of 
those grasses are sold for golf courses or sports fields, 
not residential lawns. Generally, growers are very 
competitive and sell the same grasses for about the same 
price so shop around for the best quality and the best 
prices for your area, especially if you're buying from a 
retail dealer that marks up the price.

When and How to Plant a Sod Lawn
Sod is heavy. One square foot of it weighs about 4 1/2 to 
5 1/2 pounds, or more than 2 tons for a 1,000-square-foot 
lawn. Depending upon the size of your lawn, arrange for 
helpers, if only to help you lay the sod promptly. 
Especially during hot weather, moving the sod quickly from 
the delivery pallet to the lawn site so that it doesn't dry 
out or begin to biodegrade is important.

Before you buy the sod, till the soil 4 to 6 inches deep. 
Remove all debris and large rocks. Have the soil tested by 
a county extension office or a private testing service. Add 
any amendments the soil test recommends: Organic matter such 
as composted fir or pine bark and fertilizer are typical; 
other amendments such as limestone (in the East) or soil 
sulfur (in the West) may also be necessary. Grade and level 
the area to smooth the surface.

In areas where summer droughts commonly occur, you may have 
to install a permanent underground sprinkler system before 
laying the sod. You can always water the lawn with portable, 
aboveground sprinklers, but an underground system is usual-
ly much more efficient and convenient.

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