Turf Types and Quality

Turf Types and Quality

Turf Type Tall Fescue Blend

This is the most widely sold grass blend in the Mid-Atlantic region and for good reason. It holds a green color for a longer period during the year and is drought tolerant. It does well with less intensive fertilizer programs and has some shade tolerance. The blades are considered a medium blade, but what is now medium was considered fine not long ago. It is naturally darker in green color than older varieties. It is the happy medium grass.

The blend is comprised of 3 fescues and one bluegrass in a 90% fescue 10% bluegrass ratio. All varieties used are on the recommended lists published by Va Tech and the University of Md. and are grown to meet their requirements for certified sod. Only the best seed varieties make the list through trials held at their collective evaluation plots in both states.
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Fine Fescue

We started raising fine fescue to give people an option for more heavily shaded areas. Neighborhoods closer into DC are getting older and the trees are getting larger. If you want grass and have had trouble due to shade this is your best choice.

Fine fescue does well with minimal or no fertilizer. It is used by environmentaly conscious consumers and golf courses in "no mow" areas. It has the thickest and strongest root system of any grass we have seen. We refer to it as bare foot friendly as the blades are also very thick and soft on bare feet. It prefers poorer, drier well drained, and less organic soil types. It does handle full sun(as we grow it in open fields), but will go dormant and turn brown during the hot summer unless in a shaded area. It also doesn't like wet feet, so the use of irrigation or the installation in naturally wet soil is not recommended. It requires a higher mower height and doesn't tolerate traffic as well as our regular fescue. We usually only sell this grass during cooler weather.            
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Turf Quality and Netting

Turf Quality/Certified Sod 

We get asked often if there are different qualities of sod someone can purchase for various applications. Sometimes they want the best money can buy, sometimes they are trying to combat an erosion issue in a ditch that may never be mown again. From a practical standpoint it doesn't make sense to grow different qualities on our farm. It is much easier to just grow and harvest the best you can. Quality can range from farm to farm, and even throughout the year on one farm, but State Certified Sod is one measure you can use when judging sod quality.
What is Virginia State Certified Sod?  It is sod that has been grown and inspected according to guidelines set by Virginia Crop Improvement and Va Tech.  Va Tech and U of Md publish a Recommended Lists of Turfgrass Varieties each year.  Only those grasses listed can be certified.  The lists are compiled from trials conducted a various locations in Va and MD. Once on the lists the seed must pass lab tests for purity, germination, and be weed free. When mixed into our specific blend, it is again done under inspection to insure you are getting what you are paying for. Once the seed arrives to the farm, is planted, and grows into a beautiful field, it must be inspected again.  A state inspector comes to the farm and literally walks the fields looking for containments like noxious weeds, other grasses, and poor health.  It is the only nonpartisan third party verification available to insure the best quality sod is being grown.  Once a field passes, we receive tags that can be given to the customer for their records if requested. The certification is only good for 6 months, at which time it must be done again if needed.       

What is Netting?

heNetting is a plastic mesh that is used by most growers as a harvest aid for turf type tall fescue sod. Once a field has been planted we unroll this plastic mesh over the bare ground. The seed then germinates, it grows up through the netting and you no longer see it. When the field starts to look great in 9 months, we can then harvest the field. The sods roots aren't developed enough so the netting helps to hold the sod together. Fields with netted sod can be harvested and re-planted within a year. Without netting the same fields are on a 2 year cycle. Most acres grown for fescue have netting in this region     

The problem with netting is that it doesn't biodegrade any time soon. You may have seen it in your yard or a neighbors in bare areas where the grass has thinned out due to shade or a traffic path. If you have to dig an area for a new landscape bed, you will need to cut though and deal with this mesh. Almost anyone you ask who has had to deal with an existing yard that has netting in it, hates it. Netting is a big "no no" for athletic fields as cleats can get caught in it. We highly recommend not to use netted sod for yards that have dog traffic. I tell most people that if it was my yard I would not want netting in it.

The advantage of non-netted sod, besides no netting are numerous. First you are purchasing a mature product. The strength of most plants are in its roots and the same goes for grass. This is where food is stored by the plant and nutrients obviously brought out of the soil. The stronger the roots, the greater chance of success for your new yard. We have witnessed first hand sod that went under stress during establishment that didn't come back due to immature netted sod. We have also seen yards that looked completely dead come back due to the resiliency of a mature root system. Non netted sod is usually lighter than netted sod. Again this is due to the thicker denser root system. I don't mean to imply that you can't have a successful yard with netted sod, but you should realize what you are purchasing.    

Here at Premier Turf Farms we are trying to grow 100% non netted sod. Right now this isn't possible due to demand and available land, but we area close. Without the netting the sod has to be fully mature and grow a strong root system to be able to be harvested and handled during installation. Although we think this is better sod, it does add significantly to the costs of mowing, growing, and maintaining our fields. If you need non-netted sod please be sure to tell us when ordering as we usually always have some available. And no, we do not charge a premium for the non-netted sod, since it is what we normally want to grow.    
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