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Sod versus Seed

Recent Media Coverage of Riverside Sod Farm, LLC

New Sod Farm Prospers Despite Drought

Twin City/Valley Press
October 3, 1999

by Diane Matherne

Charlie Price and Becky Morris, owners of Riverside Sod Farm, the only one of its kind in West Virginia, produced their first crop of sod in this of all years, - a period during which area farmers suffered through the worst drought in recorded history.  

"This has been one heck of a year to grow grass," said Price.  The pair leased 23 acres of farmland next to the river in Mason County.  They plowed, disked, leveled and seeded the land, planting approximately 15 acres of fescue grass and eight acres of bluegrass.  Then they waited and waited for the rains to come.  Lacking an expensive watering system and getting no help from Mother Nature, just how did they manage to bring in a fine crop of turf during the worst of times?  "We hand watered, believe it or not," Price said.  "My watering system is sitting across from me," he said, pointing to Morris.

Actually Mother Nature did help these farmers along, providing grass with internal mechanisms to protect itself during drought.  "During extended periods of low rainfall, grass goes into dormancy.  Then when it rains, it begins to grow again," said Price.  This explains how grass is able to quickly rejuvenate from drought conditions while other plant life often dies.  

Price recommends sod over seeding because the average home or business owner "doesn't know what I know."  A thick coat of luscious green grass takes time and preparation to accomplish, and generally the amateur grower lacks the knowledge and inclination to provide these needs.  First of all, Price stressed the importance of soil testing to find out the soil's pH and allow proper augmentation with fertilizers and soil amendments.  Once the soil has been perfected and the seed planted, there is then a growth period when the sprouts require a great deal of attention.  "People often don't know what to do and don't give the grass what it needs," said Price.  

Riverside Sod Farm delivers anywhere in West Virginia and also provides for sod pick-up on-site.  Riverside discovered that many people had a need for small quantities of sod.  "A ton of people call us for a few yards, so we have set up an agreement with Southern States Green's Feed and Seed on Piedmont Road in Charleston," said Price.  Riverside displays a sample of its sod at Green's, customers make an order and Riverside delivers the sod to Green's every Friday.

Riverside Sod Farm delivers to residential, commercial and golf courses.  The company harvests its sod in slabs that are 16" x 40.5."  Two slabs make a yard and 50 of these yards (100 slabs) are stacked on a pallet and lifted by a Donkey forklift onto a truck for delivery.  The Donkey attaches to the back of the truck to be used again for unloading.

"Once the sod is delivered, the obvious thing is it needs a lot of water," said Price.  "We guarantee it's in good shape when we deliver it and it's up to the customer to keep it watered and fertilized."  Riverside provides an instruction/maintenance sheet giving complete care instructions.  It is comforting to know that given the proper nutrition, sod will initiate rooting into the subsoil within seven days, much quicker than it typically takes seed to germinate.

The only chemical pesticide used by Riverside Sod Farm is  a weed control.  "Wholesale spraying I was never for," Price said.  "Weeds grow 5-1 faster than grass, so initially you have to help the grass along until it gets dense enough to keep the weeds from worming their way in."

Fertilizer is also needed to promote healthy grass.  "You have to give your grass a Big Mac from time to time," said Price.  Here again, Price emphasized knowing the pH of your soil so that you can provide the precise nutrients your soil needs.





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