sod decomposition for planting beds

Asked April 19, 2017, 5:02 PM EDT

I have about 1000 sq feet of sod turned to decompose in various planting beds for shrubs and trees. 1) How long should I wait before planting anything? 2) Are there techniques to increase the decomposition rate of turned sod? 3) Should I add phosphorous for root development since the soil will be high in nitrogen from the decomposed grass? Thank you.

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

The sod will decompose more quickly if it is kept moist. Also, if any of the leaf blades are uncovered so that they receive sunlight, they will continue to grow. So, check that no green is peeking out. If so, cover or turn it over so no green blades receive sun.

You should do a soil test to see what nutrients the soil needs before planting. Click on the Soil Testing icon on the right side of our homepage for info on how to collect a soil sample, what to sample for, and a list of soil testing labs in our region.

A soil test will also give you the soil's pH. This is critical for good plant growth. It may recommend applying many pounds of lime. It's good to work this into the soil before you begin planting your garden.

You don't mention how long ago you turned the soil. We can't say exactly when the soil will be ready to use. The more rain and warm temperatures we've had, the faster the sod will decompose. You will see that the grass is dead and decomposing if it is near the surface. If you dug deeply, it will not be as important.