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Lawn Care—Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This is the place to look if you have questions not answered in the Maintenance Guide.

General Questions:

Maintenance Questions:

 


General Questions:



Q. How often should I water my lawn?

A. It depends on the turf type and when it was installed. Please check the Maintenance Guide for specific details.

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Q. What is the difference between Marathon® and competitive brands?

A. Southland Sod Farms pioneered the development of tall fescue sod in Southern California. Marathon® is Southland's brand name for that species of grass. Although other growers now produce copies of Marathon under their own brand names, Southland continues to use its own varieties, including one that was ranked number 1 by the US Dept. of Agriculture each year for the three years that it was tested. In other words, just as different varieties of apples have different characteristics, so do different varieties of grass within a species have different characteristics—such as color, texture, and disease resistance—making some varieties superior to others. The varieties in the Marathon family have been selected to offer the best combination of desirable traits. Additionally, Southland Sod uses different production methods which result in a denser turf. All of these attributes make a lawn of Marathon Sod very attractive, as well as its ability to hold up well. Southland has been growing this sod since 1983; and, due to strong customer satisfaction and loyalty, Marathon Sod has earned its reputation for quality while becoming the most popular sod in Southern California. And, in case you have a problem, Marathon Sod is guaranteed for one year. If you like, Southland Sod will be happy to send you free packet with a "do it yourself" video, brochures about the varieties of Marathon, and authorized dealers throughout Southern California.

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Q. What makes Marathon III® so much better than other dwarf or "double dwarf" tall fescue brands?

A. Marathon III Sod represents the latest development in Southland Sod's Dwarf Marathon product line. Marathon III grows significantly more slowly than standard tall fescues and previous generation dwarfs.  Note: Some of Southland's competitors have adopted the term "double dwarf" to describe their slower growing tall fescue. This phrase is purely advertising "oneupsmanship" and without botanical meaning. There is no difference between "dwarf" and "double dwarf."

The best way to compare sod brands is to look at samples of each; differences in the quality of sod among growers can be significant. If time constraints don't allow for such comparison, be assured that Southland Sod's production and cutting techniques create a denser, lower turf than that of other sod farms. If you like, Southland Sod will be happy to send you a free packet with a "do it yourself" video, brochures about the varieties of Marathon, and authorized dealers throughout Southern California.

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Q. What is the difference between Marathon (original), Marathon II, and Marathon III?

A. The Roman numerals "II" and "III" represent a progression of development toward slower growth and improved aesthetics over the original Marathon. The Marathon products are all tall fescue grass species and are significantly more durable than other cool-season varieties of sod available for use in Southern California.

Within the Marathon group, original Marathon is slightly more durable than the others, and its faster growth rate allows for quicker recovery from injury. Original Marathon was ranked the "number one" variety in US Dept. of Agriculture-sponsored tests for three years out of three. This ranking reflects strong disease resistance.

Both Marathon II and the newer Marathon III are exclusive dwarf varieties developed by Southland Sod's research team with the requirements of the Southern California market area in mind. Focusing breeding selection criteria on creating dwarf plants allowed for a reduction in growth rate. The successful development of Marathon III has set a new benchmark for slow growth and therefore less clippings. Another benefit of the new varieties is their richer color.

Marathon II and Marathon III can be mowed to between 1-1/2" to 2-1/2", while original Marathon should be left about 1/2" taller. Overall, Marathon III offers the most manicured look and the slowest growth. Marathon II falls between Marathon I and III in growth rate.

Original Marathon should be used where wear and tear and recovery from injury are the top priorities. Marathon III should be used where a manicured look is more important than maximum durability.

If you like, Southland Sod will be happy to send you a free packet with a "do it yourself" video, brochures about the varieties of Marathon, and a list of authorized dealers throughout Southern California (or see the "Where to Buy" section of this web site).

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Q. What is the difference between Marathon and Marathon Lite?

A. The basic difference between Marathon and Marathon Lite lies in the growing process. Both Marathon and Marathon Lite use the same seed; however, Marathon Lite is grown without soil, using a hydroponic process that was developed and patented by Southland Sod Farms. The resulting turf is almost 50% lighter than traditional field-grown turf. As a result, the sod can be cut into larger pieces, thereby reducing installation time and effort. Furthermore, the optimum control of water and nutrients afforded by this growing process enhances the dwarf characteristics of lower mowing, finer texture, and increased density.

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Q. I can buy fescue from a discount warehouse. Why shouldn't I save some money?

A. The fescue sold at discount warehouses is not the same as Marathon Sod. Although it is the same species, the sod sold at the discount warehouses originates with growers from marginal agricultural areas. To compensate for the extremes of weather where the sod is grown, it is sometimes dyed green to mask its inferiority (run your hand across the product, or ask the salesperson). Also, in order to cut production costs, less seed is planted, resulting in a lower density, shaggy looking turf. Finally, these marginal growers use different varieties of seed than those developed for Marathon.

As mentioned elsewhere, Marathon Sod contains Southland Sod's company-developed varieties, including one that was ranked #1 in tests by the US Dept. of Agriculture three years running. Different varieties within a species have different characteristics such as color, texture, and disease resistance, and Marathon's are superior to other varieties. In addition Southland's production methods result in a denser turf. All of these attributes make Marathon a very attractive lawn, as well as one that holds up well. Southland has been growing Marathon since 1983; due to strong customer satisfaction and its constantly spreading reputation, the Marathon sods have become the most popular sods in Southern California. In addition, Southland Sod offers a one-year guarantee on its Marathon sods should there be a problem.

If possible, go to a discount warehouse and take a look at the sod in stock; when you compare it to Marathon, you'll see the difference. The "Where to Buy" section of this web site will help you find a Marathon retailer where you can inspect Southland's sod. If you like, Southland Sod will be happy to send you free packet with a "do it yourself" video and brochures about the varieties of Marathon.

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Q. Do you sell to homeowners? Why not? It doesn't say in your advertisements that you're wholesale only!

A. Southland Sod does not sell directly to homeowners, although your order will be delivered directly to your home from our farm after you have placed the order with one of our authorized dealers. Nurseries assist both Southland Sod and customers by providing convenient locations for distributing Southland's information, collecting customer payments before delivery of sod (due to the perishable nature, advance payment is necessary), and exchanging all necessary delivery information. In addition, contracting nurseries carry Southland's supporting product line of Marathon seed and fertilizer. In other words, Southland Sod and the nurseries work in a kind of partnership to better serve individual customers; therefore, Southland does not compete with the nurseries by selling retail. Southland Sod can be found in the yellow pages of telephone books as well as on the internet in order to offer prospective customers information and referral to authorized dealers.

If you like, Southland Sod will be happy to send you a free packet with a "do it yourself" video, brochures about the varieties of Marathon, and a list of authorized dealers throughout Southern California (or see the "Where to Buy" section of this web site).

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Q. Do you install sod, or can you recommend someone in my area?

A. Southland Sod grows and delivers sod to customers, but does not install sod. If you want to install the sod yourself Southland will send you our free "do it yourself" video. If you would like someone to install it for you, ask your nursery for a recommendation or select a licensed landscape contractor from the yellow pages. Be sure to specify that you want them to install Genuine Marathon Sod from Southland Sod Farms, not an imitation of less quality.

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Q. I'm a homeowner and would like to make the call for my landscaper. Why can't I just get the price instead of having him call?

A. We sell wholesale only to licensed nurseries and landscape contractors. As a courtesy to your contractor Southland Sod will not quote our wholesale price to you. You are the nursery or contractor's customer, and he is Southland's—Southland Sod must respect that relationship, although we can tell you our suggested retail prices.

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Q. I'm not licensed but I am a contractor. Can I just get a rough estimate?

A. Southland Sod is not authorized to sell sod to unlicensed contractors and cannot quote the wholesale price; we can, however, give you our suggested retail prices.

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Q. What's the fair market price for Marathon Sod?

A. Southland Sod's suggested retail price is between 54 and 56 cents per square foot, depending on delivery area and Marathon type. Nurseries in your area will generally be around that price. Lower quality imitation brands will be about 10% less.

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Q. What kind of sod should I use with dogs?

A. No sod is completely resilient to dogs. Tifgreen and St. Augustine are the most tolerant to dog urine; however, they too will burn. According to customer feedback burning seems to vary, probably due to varying soil moisture. A wet lawn will not burn nearly as easily as a dry one. In any case the Tifgreen and St. Augustine will recover, while Marathon will not. However, keep in mind that the Tifgreen and St. Augustine varieties are not green year-round, but become dormant in winter.

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Maintenance Questions:


Q. Why do I have mushrooms in my new lawn?

A. Mushrooms are caused by just the right combination of water, temperature, and humidity. Since they need constant moisture, mushrooms often appear as a result of the frequent watering needed by new sod. As the need for heavy watering decreases after the sod is established, the appearance of new mushrooms will decline radically. Be assured that mushrooms will not damage a lawn; just mow them off and reduce irrigating so that the lawn can dry out between waterings.

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Q. Why is there Bermuda in my Marathon lawn?

A. None of the weed killers which get rid of Bermuda can be used in a Marathon lawn without also killing the Marathon. Use Roundup® to spot treat the Bermuda-infested area and then re-sod or plant new seed. Be aware that Bermuda seeds are carried into yard by birds and by wind if present in the neighborhood. Also, Bermuda seeds can be carried in by gardeners if they adhere to the inside of a mower at another location.

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Q. What's the best method for watering and fertilizing my new lawn?

A. For watering a new lawn—see the Maintenance Guide elsewhere on this website..

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Q. You tell me how often to water, but how do I know how long to water my lawn?

A. Southland does not specify how long to water because sprinkler systems put out varying amounts of water called precipitation rates. As a rule of thumb, water the lawn until runoff occurs or until 1/2" of water has been applied . To determine the length of time needed to apply 1/2" of water, place a can on your lawn and run the sprinklers for 15 minutes; measure the height of water in the can and multiply that height by 4 to get the precipitation rate in inches per hour.

For example:

If the height of water in the can was 3/8" after 15 minutes, then 4 x 3/8" = 1-1/2" per hour (precipitation rate).

To determine how long to water in order to apply 1/2" of water, divide 1/2" by the precipitation rate: 1/2" divided by 3/2" per hour = 1/3 hour (i.e., water for 20 minutes).

Or, use Southland Sod's Lawn Watering Calculator.

For a region-specific watering guide, please refer to the Irrigation Schedule Calculator.

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If you are unable to find answers to your questions on this website or from an authorized dealer,
call Southland Sod Farms at 1.800.4.MARATHON.