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Sod prices increasing
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Are you planning to renovate an existing lawn or plant a new lawn using sod this spring? If so, now is the time to start your preparations. It may be hard to find motivation to think about your landscape during cold weather, but January is the ideal time to plan for laying new turfgrass.

One of the most important issues when dealing with sod is the price. Different species of turfgrass range in costs based on factors such as ease of growth, delivery distance and patents on the particular turfgrass species.

Sod prices should be up this year by around 13 percent, especially for warm-season turf like Bermuda and Zoysia, according to UGA Turfgrass Specialist Clint Waltz. A recent survey of Georgia turfgrass producers found that sod inventories at most sod farms are well below average.

Much of this shortage can be attributed to poor growing conditions much of last year. Large amounts of rainfall flooded many fields and didn't allow for proper sod harvesting. If it wasn't raining, cloud cover prevented adequate sunlight from reaching existing stands of turfgrass and inhibited adequate regrowth.

Weather conditions dried up some in the fall of 2013, causing a higher-than-usual demand for sod. This late season rush has dropped existing sod inventories to levels more commonly seen after the usual spring rush.

If you have to get sod out soon, it would be wise to contact a reputable dealer and try to secure your pallets as soon as possible.

Demand is projected to be high this year, so expect to see a price increase as well. Certified sod is recommended to ensure all turf is of the same variety.

January is also a good time to have your soil tested in preparation for laying sod. Even the best sod won't grow in poor soils. Testing now will ensure plenty of time to amend your soil with lime and fertilizer for spring growth. Dawson County Extension office offers soil tests for $8 per test.

Clark MacAllister is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706) 265-2442.