Summary: Evaluate labor costs and turf structure before deciding to reinstall existing golf turf.
When golf managers ask about reusing existing rough sod in new construction, I tell them to evaluate the following:
- Condition of the existing sod
- Cost of labor to remove and store the sod
- Cost of labor to maintain the sod during storage
- Loss of sod during the removal and installation process
Check the existing sod for weeds, turf vigor, and root vitality. Examine the existing subsoil. Confirm that the new topsoil is similar to the existing subsoil; heavy soil laden sod installed on sandy soil will create dessication problems.
Determine if the existing sod will survive during removal, storage, and restoration. I’ve seen vibrant bluegrass sod fragment when cut and handled. Fescue sod grows in a bunched pattern making it difficult to rehandle. Cut a few test strips to see how the sod adapts to rehandling.
Develop a cost analysis by determining delivered sod prices. Multiply square footage times unit cost and transportation fees to determine sod cost delivered to the work site.
Commercial sod companies use mechanical harvesters that cut and load perfectly cut sod. The sod is placed on pallets in a unique pattern that knits one roll with another, creating a stable load. Spyders, or conveyance vehicles, transfer the sod to the work limit.
Next, itemize the cost of removing the existing sod. Laborers will cut the sod and place it on pallets. This is not the most efficient way to remove sod. Inexperienced sod laborers usually cut sod in shorter lengths. Thickness may vary. When the sod cutter completes a pass, a few inches of sod will be destroyed. They will drop a few rolls. You’ll loose 20% of the sod during the cutting and stacking process.
After unrolling the sod and placing it in a flat, shady area, the sod must be irrigated. Consider the cost to maintain the recycled sod. Hand watering, if needed, adds to the labor costs.
Additional labor is needed to roll up the stored sod, load it on pallets, and transport it to the work site.
Reuse of existing sod may look like a way to save money during the construction process. Commercially grown sod, delivered in pallets, or rolls, is a better option.
In another post, I’ll discuss the reuse of existing green and fairway sod.