turning sod

Asked April 3, 2020, 2:43 PM EDT

In Spring I typically edge planting beds by digging up sod {weeds and grass that have encroached in the past year} shaking off as much of the loose soil as possible, and then discarding the remaining roots and attached soil. This is done before adding fresh layer of mulch. What is likely to happen if I simply turn the sod over, and cover it with a thin layer of mulch ? Will grass/weeds come back faster, stronger than my previous practice ? slower ? about the same ? I don't mind yard work but I am getting older and need to work smarter ! Any other ideas that might help ?

Baltimore County Maryland

1 Response

If you simply flip over the sod, it will kill the grass if the depth of the overturned soil is deep enough. If it is shallow, some of the roots will survive and start growing upwards again.

Edging is always a challenge. Yearly work with a spade is laborious, though it does leave a nice sharp. It's not sustainable for more than a year, as you know.

Other options are an edge of 1-2 bricks, sunk into the soil enough so that the mower wheel can run over them. An edging of pavers also works well and can be mowed over. It seems very wide, but actually blends in and looks good. Don't sink these too deeply, or sod will grow right over them.

The wheel of a mower can be run right up to black plastic edging sunk vertically in the soil. (It comes in rolls.) It blocks grass from growing into bed very well. If sunk so just the thickened top edge is above ground level, it looks good and mowing can be very close. In fact, it can run a little over it, without damaging it. It can last for 20 years. After 10 years or so, freezing and thawing of the soil may push it up a little and require sinking it down again a bit.

As for mulch, it should never be more than 2-3" deep.

Originally, mulch was devised as a temporary cover for bare soil while desired plants were filling in. In order to eliminate the yearly chore of mulching, start installing groundcovers or shrubs to fill in and cover your bare soil. Here's a list you can find by searching 'ground covers' on our website, but there are many more.https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/groundcover-list It is critical to avoid invasive ones however, such as English ivy.

Ellen