NEW ENGLAND SOD PRODUCERS
ASSOCIATION, INC.


SPECIFICATIONS FOR SODDING
AND SOIL PREPARATION


(Revised January 2004)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
     This revised guideline was prepared at the request, and through the support, of the New England Sod Producers’ Association. Previous editions were edited by B. A. Ruemmele, Associate Professor; and R. E. Hanson, Jr., Associate Professor; Department of Plant Sciences; University of Rhode Island; Kingston, Rhode Island. The previous revision from which this publication was prepared occurred in 1982 under the direction of C. R. Skogley, (deceased), Professor; Department of Plant Sciences; University of Rhode Island; and Joseph Troll, Professor; Department of Plant and Soil Science; University of Massachusetts - Amherst; and Clifford Warren, (deceased), Assistant Professor; Department of Plant Science; University of New Hampshire.

     Maryland-Virginia Publication #1, “Guideline Specifications, Soil Preparation and Sodding” was used as a guide in the original publication. Special credit is given to the members of the Cooperative Extension Service, University of Maryland and Virginia Polytechnic Institute whose fine effort simplified the task of preparing the New England publication.
FOREWORD
     Members of the New England Sod Producers’ Association are interested in seeing that every turfgrass sod installation is properly accomplished and that the finished job has the mark of quality.

     The following specifications have been prepared with this thought in mind and are designed to ensure the buyer that he or she is getting quality turfgrass sod, site preparation and installation of turfgrass sod, as well as good management practices designed to complete the job satisfactorily.


By making these specifications available to architects, landscape and general contractors, municipalities, building committees, grounds maintenance supervisors and homeowners, the New England Sod Producers’ Association members hope their quality products will provide a turf area of lasting enjoyment.




SUGGESTED USE OF SPECIFICATIONS

These specifications have been divided into six sections as follows:
   Section I Specifications for Subsoil Preparation (Where Topsoil is to be Added)
   Section II Specifications of Topsoil Material and Application
   Section III Specifications for Fertilizer and Lime Materials and Final Soil Preparation
   Section IV Specifications for Turfgrass Sod Materials and Installation
   Section V Specifications of Maintenance of Installed Turfgrass Sod
   Section VI Guidelines for Landscape Architects in Compliance with the CSI Format
 
     In Section IV, “Specifications of Turfgrass Sod Materials and Installation”, the architect or any other person who prepares the specifications must select the proper blend or mixture of turfgrass cultivars to fill the blank space in B-1. Information concerning turfgrass cultivars can be obtained by talking with NESPA members or Turfgrass University personnel.

     Each section can be used alone or can be incorporated into an overall set of specifications for a turfgrass installation project. Specifications may be written to allow contractors who specialize in certain types of landscape work to have an opportunity to bid on only a portion of a project. For example, a contractor may only be interested in supplying and spreading topsoil, installing turfgrass sod, or maintaining turfgrass sod after installation.

     Those responsible for preparing specifications should review these sections and use them to the best advantage for each job.

     For additional information, contact any New England Sod Producers’ Association member (listed on the last page of this publication) or Turfgrass Specialist at the State University in the state where the job is located.


Section I
SPECIFICATIONS FOR SUBSOIL PREPARATION

(Where Topsoil is to be Added)

  NOTE: This specification applies only if additional topsoil will be deposited over
             existing soil.
A. GENERAL: The areas to which these specifications apply and on which topsoil is to be spread shall be as indicated on the drawings or as otherwise specified. Equipment, labor and materials necessary for preparation of the specified areas shall be furnished by the landscape contractor.
B. SOIL TESTING: The chemical analysis for topsoil or subsoil shall be made by the soil testing service of the New England state universities, which shall be considered the official testing laboratory. Addresses of these services may be obtained from the Cooperative Extension Service office in the county and state in which the job is located, or a New England Sod Producer.

1.
Sampling Method and Size of Samples. Soil samples should be representative of the area or soil stockpile. A minimum of 10 sub-samples taken to a depth of 6 inches should be collected from random spots over the area. For soil stockpiles, probe the piles at random locations and depths. Depending upon the test required, collect either 1 pint for chemical analysis or 1 quart for mechanical analysis. Place the samples in a suitable container and mail or deliver to the testing laboratory. If more than one sample is sent, identify each sample by name, number or letter and indicate what tests are required.
C. GRADING: Grades on the areas to be top soiled which have been previously established in conformance with the drawings and/or other applicable specifications shall be maintained.
D. LIMING: When a chemical and mechanical analysis shows that the subsoil is either highly acid or composed of heavy clays, ground limestone shall be spread at the rate recommended by the testing service. Liming material shall contain at least 50% total oxides (Calcium oxide plus magnesium oxide) and 50% of material must pass through a 100-mesh sieve with 98% passing through a 20-mesh sieve. Lime shall be distributed uniformly over designated areas and worked into the soil in conjunction with the tillage operation described below.
E. DEBRIS REMOVAL: All debris and stones of 2 inches or more must be removed from the subsoil to a depth of 8 inches.
F. TILLING: After the areas to be top soiled have been brought to grade, and immediately prior to dumping and spreading the topsoil, the sub-grade shall be loosened by disking or rototilling to a depth of at least 3 to 4 inches to permit bonding of the topsoil to the subsoil.
G. ACCEPTANCE: Acceptance shall be given by the general contractor, owner, architect or his or her agent upon satisfactory completion of each section or area as indicated on the drawings or as otherwise specified. Acceptance should be recorded by the party responsible for the site preparation, and it should be signed by the owner or agent. No top-soiling or turfgrass sod installation work should proceed until this requirement is met.



Section II

SPECIFICATIONS FOR TOPSOIL MATERIAL

AND APPLICATION


  NOTE: Topsoil on the existing site may often be used, standards as set forth in these specifications.
A. GENERAL: Unless otherwise specified by the architect, the landscape contractor shall furnish all topsoil, labor, material and equipment required to complete the work described herein in strict accordance with the drawings and/or terms of the contract.
B. SOIL: Texture of the topsoil shall be specified and approved by the architect or his agent.

Topsoil shall be free of tree roots, stumps, building material, and trash, and shall be free of stones larger than 11/2 inches in any dimension. Topsoil shall be free of quackgrass rhizomes (Agropyron repens) and the nut-like tubers of nutsedge (Cyperus escu/entus).

Because some herbicides are non-selective and have a long residual life in the soil, it should be determined if the topsoil to be used was recently treated with herbicide. The herbicide material, rate of application and number of times applied should be determined before the soil is delivered. If the herbicide material is one that will affect the growth of turfgrass sod, the soil can be rejected.

All topsoil shall be tested as outlined in Section 1. No turfgrass sod shall be placed on soil which has been treated with soil sterilants or herbicides until sufficient time has elapsed to permit the dissipation of toxic materials. The landscape contractor shall assume full responsibility for any loss or damage to turfgrass sod arising from improper use of sterilants or due to his or her failure to allow sufficient time to permit dissipation of toxic materials, whether or not such sterilants are specified herein.
C. GRADING: The topsoil shall be uniformly distributed on the designated areas. It shall be a minimum depth of 4 inches after firming. Spreading shall be performed in such a manner that turfgrass sod installation can proceed with a minimum of additional soil preparation and tillage. Any irregularities in the surface resulting from top soiling or other operations shall be corrected in order to prevent the formation of depressions or crowns. Topsoil shall not be placed while in a frozen or muddy condition or when the sub-grade is excessively wet, or in a condition that may otherwise be detrimental to proper grading or proposed turfgrass sod installation.
D. CLEAN UP: After the topsoil has been spread and the final grades approved, the area shall be cleared of all grade stakes, surface trash and other objects that would hinder installation of turfgrass sod. Paved areas over which hauling operations are conducted shall be cleaned as soon as the job is completed.
E. ACCEPTANCE: Acceptance shall be given by the general contractor, owner, architect or his or her agent upon satisfactory completion of each section or area indicated on the drawings or as otherwise specified. Acceptance shall be recorded and signed by the owner or authorized agent.



Section III
SPECIFICATIONS FOR FERTILIZER AND
LIME MATERIALS AND FINAL SOIL PREPARATION


 
NOTE: Specifications given in this section apply both to areas where topsoil has been added and to areas where soil from the existing site is used.
A.
GENERAL: The landscape contractor shall furnish all labor, material and equipment required to complete the work described herein in strict accordance with the drawings and/or terms of the contract.
B.
MATERIALS: Soil tests shall be made to determine requirements for both lime and fertilizer. Soil tests shall be conducted by the soil testing services of the New England state universities which shall be considered the official testing laboratory. (See Section 1).

1. Fertilizers: All fertilizers shall be uniform in composition and free- flowing. Fertilizer shall be delivered to the job site fully labeled according to applicable state fertilizer laws. Fertilizer application rates shall be determined by soil tests. Fertilizer shall be distributed uniformly over the area to be sodded with turfgrass.

2. Lime: Lime material shall be ground limestone and shall comply with existing state and federal regulations. Limestone shall contain at least 50% total oxides (calcium oxide plus magnesium oxide). Ground limestone shall be ground to such fineness that at least 50% will pass through a 100-mesh sieve and 98 % will pass through a 20- mesh sieve. Lime shall be distributed uniformly over the entire area to be sodded with turfgrass. Lime should be worked into the soil to the depth of 3 to 4 inches.

3. Phosphorus: If a soil test indicates phosphorus is needed, apply to the area and work into the soil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches.
C.
GRADING:

1. Tillage: Lime and fertilizer shall be uniformly mixed into the top four inches of soil.

2. Final Grading: Any undulations or irregularities in the surface resulting from fertilizing, liming, or other causes shall be leveled prior to turfgrass sod installation. Areas damaged by flooding or erosion shall be reconstructed and all grades reestablished by the landscape contractor in accordance with the drawings and/or other applicable specifications.

Except for turfgrass sod-installing equipment, care should be taken to keep equipment off prepared areas. Particular care should be taken to avoid “COMPACTION” during the grading process. The use of clay soils for grading material and the utilization of heavy equipment for surface preparation will contribute to soil compaction.
D.
CLEAN UP: Prior to turfgrass sod installation, the surface shall be free of stones, cleared of all trash, debris, roots, brush, wire, grade stakes and other objects that would interfere with establishment or maintenance operations.
E.
ACCEPTANCE: Acceptance shall be given by the general contractor, homeowner, architect or his or her agent upon satisfactory completion of each section or area as indicated on the drawings or as otherwise specified.
F.
GENERAL CONTRACTOR’S RESPONSIBILITY: Unless otherwise specified by the contract, the general contractor is responsible for maintaining the accepted areas which are to be sodded with turfgrass. The effective turfgrass sod installation date shall be specified in a written notice from the general contractor.





Section IV

SPECIFICATIONS FOR TURFGRASS SOD
MATERIALS AND INSTALLATION



A. GENERAL: Unless otherwise stated, it is expected that the landscape contractor shall furnish all labor, material and equipment required to complete the work described herein in strict accordance with the drawings and/or terms of the contract. All previously established grades shall be maintained in conformance with the drawings and/or other specifications.
B. MATERIALS:
1. Turfgrass Sod Composition: Turfgrass sod shall be composed of
__________________________________________________ (Refer to grown varieties and mixtures available from sod producers).

2. Turfgrass Sod Quality: Turfgrass sod shall be of good quality, free of weeds, disease and insects and of good color and density.

3. Thickness of Cut: Turf shall be machine-cut at a minimum uniform soil thickness necessary for plant viability during the Harvest-Transport-Installation cycle. Where “washed turfgrass sod” is specified, soil must be removed as completely as possible using soil-extraction systems currently available.

4. Pad Size: Individual pieces of turfgrass sod shall be cut to the supplier’s standard width and length. Maximum allowable deviation from standard widths and lengths shall be 5 percent.

5. Strength of Turfgrass Sod Sections: Standard size sections of turfgrass sod shall be strong enough to support their own weight and retain their size and shape when suspended vertically from a firm grasp on the upper 10 percent of the section.

6. Replacement: The policy for replacement of turfgrass sod is dependent upon each individual farm. Most replacements extend only to the cost of the turfgrass sod involved, not labor or transportation expenses. Notification of defective turfgrass sod must be made within 24 hours of delivery. Failure to notify the turf farm within the specified time period can result in the farm’s refusal to replace the turfgrass sod.
 
C. INSTALLATION:

NOTE: To help insure proper turfgrass sod establishment, turfgrass sod should always be installed on areas that have been prepared in accordance with Section III of these specifications (SPECIFICATIONS FOR FERTILIZER AND LIME MATERIALS AND FINAL SOIL PREPARATIONS).

1. Moistening the Soil: After all grading has been completed, the soil shall be irrigated within 12 to 24 hours prior to laying the turfgrass sod. Turfgrass sod should not be laid on soil that is dry and powdery.

2. Starter Strip: The first row of turfgrass sod shall be laid in a straight line, with subsequent rows placed parallel to, and tightly against, each other. Lateral joints shall be staggered to promote more uniform growth and strength. Care shall be exercised to insure that the turf is not stretched or overlapped, and that all joints are butted tight in order to prevent voids, which would cause air-drying of the roots.

3. Sloping Surfaces: On sloping area where erosion may be a problem, turfgrass sod shall be laid with staggered joints and secured by pegging.

4. Watering: The landscape contractor, or agreed-upon party, shall be responsible for watering turfgrass sod immediately during and after installation to prevent drying. It shall then be thoroughly irrigated to a depth sufficient that the underside of the new turfgrass sod pad and soil immediately below the turfgrass sod are thoroughly wet (usually 1 inch of water is needed). The general contractor shall be responsible for having adequate water available at the site prior to and during installation of the turfgrass sod.
D. ACCEPTANCE: Acceptance of the installed turfgrass sod shall be on a daily basis within 14 hours of completion of an area or section, unless otherwise specified.
E. DISCLAIMER: The landscape contractor shall not be held liable for damages to turfgrass sod caused by de-icing compounds, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or other material not applied by him or her or under his or her supervision, nor for those caused by acts of God or vandalism.
F. GUARANTEE: The landscape contractor shall guarantee work covered by this specification.
G. GENERAL CONTRACTOR’S RESPONSIBILITY: Unless otherwise specified, the general contractor shall be responsible for maintaining the accepted sodded turfgrass areas until the effective date for turf maintenance operations (Section V: SPECIFICATIONS FOR MAINTENANCE OF INSTALLED TURFGRASS SOD) begins. The effective date shall be specified in a written notice from the general contractor.




Section V
SPECIFICATIONS FOR MAINTENANCE
OF INSTALLED TURFGRASS SOD



A. GENERAL: Unless stated otherwise, it is expected that the landscape contractor shall furnish all labor material and equipment required to complete the work described herein in strict accordance with the drawings and/or terms of the contract. The general contractor shall supply adequate water to the site.
B. TIME LIMITATION: Duration of maintenance responsibilities by landscape contractor shall be for 30 days or until otherwise specified in writing by the owner, architect, or general contractor.
C. WATERING:

  
1. First Week: The landscape contractor shall provide all labor and arrange for all watering necessary for establishment of the turfgrass sod. In the absence of adequate rainfall, watering shall be performed daily or as often as necessary during the first week and in sufficient quantities to maintain moist soil to a depth of at least 4 inches. Watering should also be done during the heat of the day to help prevent wilting.

2. Second and Subsequent Weeks:
The landscape contractor shall water the turfgrass sod as required to maintain adequate moisture in the upper 4 inches of soil. Avoid application of too much water. Turfgrass sod should not be continually saturated. Depending on the sprinkler, as little as 20 to 30 minutes of water application may be sufficient; other sprinklers may requires longer water application times.
D. MOWING: For bluegrass or bluegrassIfescue turfgrass sod, turfgrass height shall be maintained between 11/2 and 21/2 inches unless otherwise specified. Not more than 1/3 of the grass leaf shall be removed by the initial cutting or subsequent cuttings. For bentgrass sod, initial turfgrass height shall be maintained as specified by the grower or installer. Not more than 1/3 of the grass leaf shall be removed by the initial cutting or subsequent cuttings. Height of bentgrass turf may be gradually reduced to the desired cutting height by weekly or more frequent lowering of the mower setting as specified by the grower or installer.
E. DISCLAIMER: The landscape contractor shall not be held liable for damages to turfgrass sod caused by de-icing compounds, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other materials not applied by him or her or under his or her supervision nor those caused by acts of God or vandalism.
F. GUARANTEE: The landscape contractor shall guarantee work covered by this specification.




Section VI
GUIDELINES FOR LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS
IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE CSI FORMAT


The following guideline is for use by landscape architects and may be incorporated into their project specifications. It is written in compliance with the CSI format. These guidelines only include those items pertaining to the specification of turfgrass sod for New England. They, along with other desired material referenced from this document, can be incorporated into the appropriate section of the specifications under DIVISION 2 - SITE WORK.

PART I— GENERAL: This part should not require editing if included within a standard landscaping section.

PART II — MATERIALS 2.XX TURFGRASS SOD
A. INSPECTION OF TURFGRASS SOD: All turfgrass sod shall be subject to the inspection and approval of the Owner’s Representative before planting.

The Contractor shall notify the Owner’s Representative at least (x) days prior to the delivery date of the turfgrass sod. No more turfgrass sod shall be delivered to the job site on any day than can be placed and watered on that day.

Inspection of turfgrass sod by the Owner’s Representative may be made at the growing site, but such inspection will not preclude rejection after delivery to the job site. Any turfgrass sod so rejected shall be removed from the site immediately and replaced with acceptable turfgrass sod. Inspection of turfgrass sod shall include conformity to quantity, specified nomenclature, and health requirements, in conformance with the current edition of the Specifications for Sodding and Soil Preparation published by the New England Sod Producers’ Association and as specified herein and on the drawings.

1. Quantity and Nomenclature: Turfgrass sod shall be furnished in the quantity and cultivars as specified in the plant list shown on the drawings. All turfgrass sod furnished by the Contractor shall be true to type or name as shown on the plans. Turfgrass sod for General Purpose Lawns shall be a mixture within the following ranges:

                  Bluegrass:                           50 -100%
                  Fine Fescue:                       0-30%
                  Perennial Ryegrass:             0-25%

      Cultivars for General Purpose Lawns shall be equivalent to or better than cultivars named by New England Sod Producers’ Association members or Turfgrass University personnel. Lawns which have less than 1/2 day of sun should contain at least 15% fine fescue. Perennial ryegrass may be included when high wear tolerance is required. Turfgrass sod for special purpose lawns shall consist of the cultivars as specified on the drawings.

DESIGNER’S NOTE: The New England Sod Producers Association does not endorse any one cultivar. Ask your sod production agent or university representative for recommendations of cultivars.

2. Health: Turfgrass sod shall be mature, having uniform appearance, and free from insect pests, disease and weeds.

PART III — EXECUTION
  3.01 Soil Preparation and Fine Grading:

The soil shall not be worked when the moisture content is so great that excessive compaction will occur, or when it is so dry that a dust will form in the air or that clods will not break readily. Water shall be applied, if necessary, to provide ideal moisture content for tilling and for planting as herein specified.

The Contractor shall be responsible for maintaining the finish grade in all planting areas, and for performing any fine grading as may be necessary or incidental to the planting operations.

Preliminary grading shall be done in such a manner as to anticipate the finish grading. Excess soil shall be redistributed before application of fertilizer. Before and during preliminary and finish grading, all weeds and grasses shall be dug out by the roots and disposed of off the site except the weeds and grasses that are not of the perennial type, are less than 21/2 inches high, and are not bearing seeds which may be turned under.

DESIGNER’S NOTE: For additional guidelines as may pertain to your project, refer to Sections I, II & III of this publication.

3.02 Planting Procedure:

A. Planting of Turfgrass Sod Lawns: Turfgrass sod shall be placed on prepared soil that has been watered and is still moist. Turfgrass sod shall be laid with tight joints, rolled, and thoroughly watered.

B. Fertilizing: DESIGNER’S NOTE: For detailed information on fertilizing during installation, refer to Section III of this publication.

C. Watering: DESIGNER’S NOTE: For detailed information on watering during installation, refer to Section IV of this publication.

D. Maintenance: DESIGNER’S NOTE: For detailed information on maintenance, refer to Section V of this publication.




APPENDIX A
EXPLANATION OF COMPOSITION OF TURFGRASS SOD
It is not possible to specify a single best turfgrass or turfgrass mixture for the production of turfgrass sod. Local growing and marketing conditions and consumer demand strongly influence what turfgrasses will be grown. To permit the turfgrass sod producer to take advantage of improved cultivars, while assuring the customer of continued or improved quality, minimum standards for turfgrass blends or mixtures follow. These specifications are meant to aid the producer in the choice of grasses that will provide quality turfgrass sod without requiring exact variety selection or formulae. Some cultivars mix or blend better with other cultivars, depending on color, texture, and/or competitive ability.

Information regarding compatible combinations may be obtained from state university turfgrass personnel and/or county extension agents. Test results on cultivars may be obtained by contacting seed companies or the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program: Mr. Kevin Morris; Beltsville Agricultural Research Center-West; Building 002, Room 013; Beltsville, MD 20705.
  Where specific cultivars are desired, consideration may be given to contract growing, where the seed is specified for growing out to mature turfgrass sod. This requires at least 6 to 15 months advance notification to the turfgrass sod grower, depending on desired grasses. The following lists denote representative cultivars for varied sites, and may be amended as improved cultivars comparable to or better than the listed cultivars become available.

For Golf Turf Areas under Low Mowing (Greens, Tees, and Fairways):
CREEPING BENTGRASS or CREEPING BENTGRASS MIX

One-hundred percent creeping bentgrasses using one to three (usually one or two) bentgrass cultivars.

For Full Sun Turf Areas: KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS MIX

Use one or more (preferably a minimum of three) of cultivars of bluegrasses or their equivalent.

NOTE: Full sun mixtures may be amended with a small (less than 1O percent) mixture of perennial ryegrass and/or fine fescue and still be suitable for full sun turf areas.

For Partial Shade Turf Areas*: FESCUE/BLUEGRASS MIX

    Five to 75 percent of Chewings Fescue, Creeping Red Fescue, and/or Hard Fescuem mixed with Kentucky Bluegrass as shown above.

* The New England Sod Producers’ Association does not recommend turfgrass sod installation in areas with less than 4 hours of sunlight per day.






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