Welcome to the first episode of Today’s Homeowner’s new podcast, “Ask Danny.”
Each week, I chat with an industry friend to tackle your home improvement questions. We’ll share pro tips and practical advice to help you succeed! Plus, there’s always a unique or funny story along the way.
Today we are talking about lawn care and sodding, with Sid Sexton. Sid is the founder of Sexton Lawn & Landscape in Daphne, Ala., and is licensed in turf and ornament spraying, landscape design, and setting of landscape plants.
About Sid Sexton
As the founder of Sexton Lawn & Landscape, Sid is a down-to-earth, honest businessman with a love for lawn care, landscape design, and delivering the best products to his clients.
Starting at age 16, Sid spent his summers working for a local landscape company and the local country club and golf course in his hometown of Muskogee, Okla.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in horticulture, Sid joined the U.S. Coast Guard and was stationed in Hawaii, where he met his future wife, Jourdan.
He was honorably discharged after two years and began working as an account manager for a landscape company. In January 2004, he founded Sexton Lawn & Landscape.
Sid is licensed in turf and ornament spraying, landscape design, and setting of landscape plants. He is also a Certified Landscape Professional and continues his education through workshops, online courses and other events several times throughout the year.
Keep reading for his advice on common lawn problems.
“We laid sod in our yard a few years ago and it’s held up well until recently. We’re starting to notice a lot more weeds than normal. What should we do?”
Sid: The best weed control is a healthy lawn. Grass needs three major things to thrive — sunlight, water and nutrients, and in that order.
See if the sod is getting enough sunlight. Trim any branches that could be casting too much shadow onto the grass.
Also, think about the type of grass. Some types of grass thrive in one location and fail in another. The type of sod could not be shade-tolerant. There’s no real shade-loving turf, but there are some that tolerate a certain amount of shade.
Next, consider irrigation. Are you watering too much or too little? The right balance depends on the type of turf you have.
The last step should be fertilization and weed control. If weeds are the issue and you feel like you have enough sun, water and nutrients, contact a professional for a weed control program.
“Should everybody aerate a lawn, or is that in a situation when you suspect the ground has gotten more compacted?”
Sid: The answer depends on how much traffic you have on your lawn.
Do you have some mature trees and are those roots are getting larger and larger and taking up more space below the grass. Do you have dogs or kids? Is there a soccer match in the backyard every weekend? This will cause compaction.
If this is the case, you should core aerate. If it’s a sports turf, you should core aerate twice a year.
For typical homeowners, once a year, if that, is sufficient.
And before you aerate, mark the locations of your sprinkler heads.
Prepping for Sod
“What should you do before sodding your lawn?”
Sid: Before laying sod, take five or six soil samples from the front and backyard.
Label them so you’ll know what area of your yard needs soil amendment. Consult with your local extension office to see what remedies you should do.
After your soil is amended and you’re ready to lay the sod, start prepping. There’s no need to eliminate all vegetation, but you do need to get rid of the weeds.
Before laying the sod, break up the soil with a till. This will create a soft transition layer of soil that will make it easier for the grass roots to take hold.
Then, add some organic matter to create a living soil for your sod to thrive, like Black Cow. (This is an affiliate link. If you purchase this product, we will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.)
Sid Sexton’s Mowing Tips
- Sharpen your lawn mower blade at least once per season. A sharp blade will make a nice clean cut and won’t tear the grass blades.
- Change up mowing patterns. Don’t mow in the same direction every time every year. It helps the grass to grow a different way and lessens the likelihood of ruts in your yard.
- Make sure you know the mowing height for your turf type. Different grasses grow best when at certain heights. For example, the recommended height for St. Augustine grass is 3-4 inches, whereas Bermuda grass needs to be cut at an inch and a half.
Sid’s Encounter with the Elusive Ground Pearl
During the course of his horticulture studies in college, Sid learned about an insect called a ground pearl. Ground pearls live in the soil, feed on turf roots and look like a pearl, as their name suggests.
Over the years, he’s heard about ground pearls in seminars and read about them in textbooks, but he had never seen one in real life.
“I thought it was the Loch Ness monster — something you said when you couldn’t figure out what was wrong with a lawn,” Sid says.
This changed, though, when he bought a house in 2012. For nine months, he struggled to find the cause of why the grass’ health was declining. The answer became clear when he was digging to plant a tree and pulled out a big wad of soil.
There were white and pink dots everywhere! Lo and behold, it was the elusive ground pearl.
Now, he sees them everywhere!