Top Specialy Uses for Sod

Southland Sod Farms

A “Lawn is a grass is a turf is a sod.”  I’m not sure if that saying is going to take off as well as Gertrude Stein’s 1913 Sacred Emily poem, which included the memorable line “Rose is a rose is a rose,” but you have to admit there are a lot of names for that luscious green carpet which increases your property value, creates more oxygen than a grove of Sycamore trees and feels so good squishing through your toes.

Sod, grass, turf, lawn – whatever you want to call it has many names.  Typically we think it’s only laid flat on the grown or as a rolling hill in a golf course or park.  But, if we think outside the box, we’ll find there are more uses than you can imagine.   Some are permanent, whiles others are temporary, fun, frivolous or important.  Today we explore specialty uses for sod.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow. When I was in elementary school, my teachers always wanted me to color inside the lines.  At times I could see that it made sense, but there were times when they were just wrong.  Let’s face it, a first grader knows that is all.  Outside the box expands the mind, encourages creativity and is downright fun as long as you don’t get too crazy.  When you follow any of the award-winning home show and fair displays I’ve created (Water Wise Landscape, 9/11 Memorial Garden, The Ultimate Landscape, to name a few) you’ll find I always incorporate real live grass in the display so you can experience as many senses as possible – sight, smell and touch.

In fact, all of the award-winning Rose Parade floats by Paradise Floats (the most-winning float company in history) always have Marathon Sod adorning them?  The interesting part of these displays is that once the event is over, they are dismantled, and the grass is recycled.


Pro-Tip.  Turf, corn, bamboo, rice, wheat, and sugar cane are related to each other and can be classified as varieties of grass.


Doggy Potty.  Let’s face it the least enjoyable thing about a dog is picking up its excrement.  But thanks to a bit of real live grass sod, especially for condo and apartment dwellers, there are subscription services that make the experience a bit more tolerable, which aids in training your canine pal to lay it down on the grass and not on your carpet.  Depending on the service you order, soilless sod (which is much lighter than traditional sod) is delivered right to your doorstep.  You can keep it in the box it comes in or order a permanent decorative one to place the sod in.  By teaching Fido and Fluffy to deposit their lawn sausage on the turf (plus tinkling), you’ll be:

jack russell terrier, sitting on a toilet seat with digestion problems or constipation reading the gossip magazine or newspaper

  • Saving landfills from filling up with pee-pads
    Saving your sanity from pets using your carpet as a toilet
    Encouraging their instincts to use nature for relief
    Eliminating smells

Sod Furniture.  Imagine for a moment not needing to lug out a heavy Adirondack lounging chair to enjoy a few moments of outdoor tranquillity when you can have built-in sod furniture!  An oversized sod couch or chair is easy enough to build by contouring soil in the shape of a couch or maybe something that looks like a bean chair.  For longevity, it would be best to build an infrastructure with logs, pat it down with soil then plant the sod.

What’s an outdoor room without a turf bed?  Construct a 2×12 raised box the size of a bed (California King 72″ x 84″,  Queen  60″ x 80″,  Twin 38″ x 74″), fill with soil, then top with sod.  Don’t forget to top it off with a headboard plus end tables made from tires filled with soil and a layer of sod on top.

Trimming sod furniture will need to be done with a bit of precision, but after a few times, you’ll get the hang of it and become a master with a string trimmer.

Pro-Tip.  An average-sized football field is 6396 square yards and produces enough oxygen per day to compensate for nearly 1200 miles of driving and the work of 327 trees.  A soccer field is 9000 square yards producing even more!

Tuff-Turf Driveway.  Landscape architects have been using block pavers and permeable pavers as a way to soften and eliminate walks and driveways.  Chances are you’ve seen a sample of this type of construction at a golf course to support vehicle weight.  Apply the same concept to your driveway, and you’ve got the cat’s meow of a green driveway.

The concept is quite simple.  Block pavers give a checkerboard look with a square of 2” concrete then a 2” tuff of grass.  The blocks are about 2’x2’ square.  They need to be laid out as you would any kind of paver, except the empty holes will be planted with sod.

Permeable pavers are buried to support weight but are all grass on top.  The pavers, which are made from plastic,  come in squares or even rolls that offer vertical and horizontal support.  Think of an 18-count egg carton with the bottom cut out.  First, you prepare the soil for planting, but your soil is about 2” lower.  Now, lay the permeable paver, fill the holes with soil then plant the sod.

Both the concrete and permeable pavers are as strong as concrete but won’t crack like a concrete will.  The infrastructure doesn’t allow the soil and sod to collapse.  It’s the smarter choice!

Hillside Stabilization.  The last thing you want is to have your hillside end up in your living room.  Talk about ruining your day!  Hillside stabilization is something you plan for.  Don’t wait!  There are a lot of reasons why a hillside can weaken: earthquakes, fire, lack of vegetation, dead plants, over-irrigation, broken water lines, and the slightest vibration from street traffic – just to name of few.  One of the best and most cost-effective ways to hold a hill in place is with grass.  Have you ever seen the roots of Marathon Original Sod?  It’s massive!  A network of those roots will surely do their best to intertwine, like holding hands, griping the roots and soil so tight it’ll be hard to move.

Fun Fact.  A fashion designer once tailored a costume made from Marathon Lite, which is sod not grown in soil.  Talk about a green sustainable fashion statement!

Here’s something to think about, when a fire breaks out in mountainous areas where hillsides can happen, the Department of Forestry will ‘seed’ grass at a rate of one seed per 18 inches.  There’s safety in sod!

Grass likes to get mowed, but for this type of application, you want to allow it to grow long, and its weight will lay over on itself.  It’ll create a green buffer for fire control and hold the hill in place.  To stimulate it a bit I’d use a string trimmer on it once every three months to lop off a couple of inches.

Nick Federoff Horticulturalist for PBS|KLCS TV, CBS|KCAL 9 News and Radio Talk Show Host

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