Making Smarter Landscaping Choices

Steps To Install Sod Over A Graveled Area

Old gravel, whether from an old roadway, fill area, or patio, can be a trouble spot in the lawn. The gravel inhibits how deeply plants can root, making them weak. Another issue is that the gravel may help water to drain too quickly from the area, which can make any plants growing in the area prone to drought stress. Fortunately, there is a way to grow grass in the problem spot, but it will take a bit of preparation. The following steps can help you do this successfully.

#1: Remove the membrane

Gravel is often laid over a weed-blocking membrane of some type, usually plastic, rubber, or fabric. This membrane, even if damaged, will limit how deeply the new grass can root. This in turn limits the drought resistance and damage resistance of the new turf. You will need to remove this membrane from beneath the gravel before you attempt to plant anything.

#2: Pull out the bulk of the stones

With luck, most of the old gravel will be on top of the membrane, so you can shovel the gravel off, lift the membrane, and have relatively rock-free soil. Old gravel can be utilized in garden beds, given away as a fill material, or dumped. If the membrane is badly damaged or if there is no membrane, you will have to remove the bulk of the stones with a shovel. This means you will lose some soil and that some stones may remain in the soil.

#3: Till in some topsoil

Topsoil will help improve moisture retention and soil quality, especially if some sand and gravel remains in the site. Spread several inches of topsoil and compost over the area and then till it in with a mechanical tiller. Till as deeply as possible with the machine, preferably to a depth of at least 6 to 10 inches.

#4: Provide a rooting zone

Tilling in the topsoil may be sufficient if you were able to remove most of the gravel. If a bit of gravel remains, you may want to provide the new turf with a gravel-free area for the main rooting zone. A 4 to 6 inch layer of fresh topsoil on top of the tilled ground should be sufficient.

#5: Use sod

Instead of seed, use sod. Sod roots quickly if it is regularly watered and laid so that the roots are in direct contact with the soil beneath. Seed takes more time to germinate and establish, which can lead to a loss of topsoil via wind or erosion when it is laid over a formerly graveled area. The healthy, existing rooting mat of sod also helps to prevent some of the gravel from working back up to the surface of the soil.

For more help in laying turf in problem areas, contact a landscaping company such as Metro Sod & Seeding Inc.