for installing a new lawn in Alberta
you are considering installing a new lawn this
year in Alberta we have many options for you.
Please consider the information below and feel
free to call or email us to discuss your
specific needs or local soil issues.
we present the options you should be aware
that Alberta has problematic clay soil. Clay
soils do not provide a good base for lawns
unless specific considerations have been
made. Depending on what area of Alberta
you are in, you may have terrible clay soil
problems or just moderate ones, but almost
every community in central Alberta
has this issue.
most common problem is when you try to mix
clay soil with sod. Please read through the
info carefully. There is more information on
clay soil and how to treat it here at www.claydoctor.com
good news for existing sod lawns and
even new sod lawns is that we still treat the
clay soil by application of Clay Doctor on the
grass. It will fix the soil under the lawn.
Once treated it makes a huge different to the
lawns health, vitality and ability to store
Sod Vs Hydroseeding?
You will have to excuse my
obvious bias against sod in this article. I
regularly install and even recommend sod to some
of my clients as it is totally appropriate . It
does have it's good points.
..However (here it comes)
Most sod is made from 80-90% Kentucky blue
grass, the most water loving and highest
maintenance turf grass ever used.
Sod cannot easily be made
from other types of grasses as Kentucky blue
grass (KBG) is the only grass species that can
product a dense, shallow mat of roots that a
machine can cut and then roll up so efficiently.
This wonderful feature is also what makes
KBG sod such a poor choice for many homeowners
The short root system
of KBG grass means this grass is highly
susceptible to drying out and it also
means that a lot of fertilizer is required to
keep it alive because it's roots can't get
down deep enough to extract the deeper
moisture and nutrients in the soil. This is
also why weeds can get into the turf as well
as other species with deeper roots.
Dandelions just have
to punch through about 2 inches of roots and
then it's got all the soil below for itself.
With Eco grass those same weeds need to
penetrate almost 12-14 inches of root mass
which is much more difficult.
If you have built in
irrigation or don't mind extra work or using a
lot of water, sod is great. In some communities
like Langdon and Strathmore irrigation can leach
alkali or sodic compounds up to the surface
which over a short period of time can kill blue
grass as it has very low tolerance to these
compounds. Anywhere you have a white crust on
your soil or grass, this is an issue. Plus i was
told by a few Langdon residents that their water
bills were well over $100 to $120 per month.
Most sod is bought and
installed because either we are just aware of
other options or we cannot wait long enough for
other varieties of grass to grow in.
Most Alberta people want the
yard the green and they want it now, if
that's your need..sod is the only choice you
have. You get a two or three year old patch of
grass in a matter of hours. Many families with
kids and pets do not want to wait due to the
open dirt which can cause cleaning headaches. Be aware that the
new sod needs to watered almost every day can
not be walked on after installation or used
for 2 weeks or
more, so it's not that instant.
This is where planning can
help, if you have the luxury of time! If you
know you are going to be moving in on a certain
date often it can be arranged with the builder
to have the lot hydroseeding in advance. I know
most builders are not that organized and are
often still working on the home right up until
the move in day (and often after) this is a
chronic problem here in Alberta.
We have many clients where
we have hydroseeded (using enhanced
hydroseeding, not regular hydroseeding) a lawn
in and in under a month they have a pretty
decent thick lawn in place. We use natural
growth enhancers and an intense nutritional
solution to rapid grow the grass in at a faster
pace and with thicker results. We do not use any
chemicals to accomplish this and we do not use
regular cheap wood fiber hydroseeding mulch. The
mixture is highly engineered and works very
well. A standard hydroseeded lawn will take at
least another 3 weeks to catch up to this
NOTE: even a sod lawn will
take 3 to 4 weeks before you can use it like a
lawn. It will be a soaking, mushy bog you can't
walk on during 2 to 3 weeks, so one of enhanced
hydroseeded lawns is pretty close in time.
From an environmental
perspective sod is a poor choice not only due to
the high water needs but also the high
maintenance involved. Sod often requires a lot
of chemical based help in the form of
herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers.
Read my article on the eco
"is your lawn making you sick".
The other pollution factor
is the mowing, if you are a very ecologically
minded person you will find that blue grass
needs a lot of mowing compared to other grasses.
Lawn mowers produce a lot of emissions.
Technically even electric powered mowers produce
pollution because most of electricity in the
west is coal generated. I know this may sound a
bit excessive, but this where longer term
planning can really help. If your grass only
needed to cut once a month instead of weekly and
you multiplied that by millions of people, it
can have a significant impact on pollution. If
you are concerned with being as ecologically
friendly as possible, KBG sod is not the way to
Extensive use of Eco grass
instead of sod can have that beneficial effect,
which by the way is why we call it "Eco Grass"
due it's ecologically friendly attributes, it's
not a species, it's a generic term for a blend
NOTE: We have a variety of types of "Eco
Grasses" that are blended for specific
expectations. Some do have a blue grass
content and varying degrees of other fescues
depending on what the client want's as
attributes in their lawn.
Blue grass is also very intolerant
of salt, which means our Western
Canadian clay soils, which are high in sodium
(salt) and alkalinity can often have very
adverse effects on our blue grass lawns.
If you have already sodded your lawn or
want to sod it, we have a product called Clay Doctor
that can solve that problem. Clay Doctor soil
modifier changes the clay based
soil into a PH neutral loam that supports good
grass growth. It works especially well for lawns
with fussy KBG grass
Family pets have an
adverse effect on sod lawns as their urine is
high in salt, this is one of the main factors
in dog spots, or dead grass spot in our KBG
lawns. Again Clay Doctor can fix this problem
and restore your lawn.
NOTE: for larger areas
like acreages we have other options like no
till seeding into existing turf and mechanical
seeding for open soils.These methods are
dramatically less costly for larger areas over
an acre and up to 20 acres.
Weeds will always be an issue. Where ever you
have open soil, there will be weed seeds in
it. even new soil bought from garden centres
is fully contaminated with weeds unless it has
been sterilized. Packaged soils are usually
sterilized, however the popular "big bags" of
soil are not. They will contain weed seeds.
The Hydroseeding process and mechanical seeding
does not introduce weeds into the soil, our seed
is certified 95% weed free, However we cannot
guarantee in any way shape or form that weeds
will not grow along with the grass, in fact I
can assure you that weeds will grow in the soil,
that is a given. This also applies to sod lawns.
The weeds in the soil beneath the sod will
produce weeds if not treated first. It is naive
to think sod will choke out all the weeds in the
soil it is laid on, weeds like thistles and
dandelions if they exist in the soil will still
come through the sod within a matter of weeks.
Weeds can easily be controlled after the grass
has reached the 3 leaf stage (about 3 weeks) .
Spraying a mild and safe, yet effective in-turf
broad leaf specific herbicide like Killex will
kill about 95% of the weeds. usually 1 or 2
treatments the first year will suffice and allow
the lawn to establish to a thick enough cover to
prevent weeds from being a major issue again.
With any lawn , sod or seeded regular spot
weeding is required to maintain a weed free
A healthy lawn will not allow a lot of weed
incursion in most circumstances.
about so, as I said it does have it's good
Mistaya Land and
Water will install your new sod and insure
that it is done properly.
a stronger focus on soil conditions and
proper installation techniques our sod
installations have a much higher success
rate than most other companies.
Unfortunately most sod
installations in Alberta are not done
correctly. With many developers, the idea is
to just get it on the ground so they can check
it off of their list. Remember it's usually
the last thing they need to do before they can
get final payment. For most developers and builders
the installation just needs to be done, it
doesn't need to be done right.
Sod is unique in that it can
be kept alive
for almost an entire summer
by just watering it. The sod can be laid over
the worst soil (and often is) or even on raw
clay.... soil so bad that the roots can't
penetrate it but if you keep it wet,
will stay alive and green for an entire summer
by living on the thin layer of water between
the roots and the clay soil surface.
However, it will not
survive the winter or will just make it out of
winter with significant die off and dead
patches. You can liken it to a deadbeat child,
still living at home at 28 years old because
mom and dad are supplying food and doing the
laundry etc..why leave ? why improve.. I'm
happy living off of them.
Sod can be like that..it
will not spread it's roots deeper and grow if
you keep a constant supply of water and
fertilizer supplied to it, it doesn't need to
grow roots to search deeper for water. This is
called a chemically
With clay soil however a
bigger problem can result for over use of
chemical fertilizers. Most store bought
fertilizers, especially the popular brand name
ones contain salts. Excess salts used in
synthetic fertilizers cause 2 problems.
First, they reduce the
moisture holding ability of soils and cause
what moisture is present to be bound more
tightly to the soil making it harder for
plants to absorb.
Second, salt exposure
reduces a plants roots ability to absorb water
even if the soil is fully saturated. Since
most commercial fertilizers are composed of
soluble salts (ammonium nitrate, potassium
chloride, etc.) and as these salts build up in
the soil, more and more water (irrigation) is
required, the plants are weaker and more
susceptible to insects and disease hence
require more pesticides, fungicides, etc. In Alberta's
clay soils all of these factors are
soil is a big issue, almost all of Alberta
soil in the major urban areas is on clay based
soil. Most of the soil or "loam" sold will be
clay based soil, most of it seriously bad high
clay content soil.
The point I am trying
make here is that it is very important to have
good soil that your sod can grow and thrive
in. The loam provided by most builders is
terrible stuff. it's the soil and mostly clay
underneath the top layer scraped off the area
that was developed .Those big scrapers they
use are NOT accurate, they strip off equal
amounts of the underlying clay and mix it all
in. Blue grass based sod does not like salty
or alkaline soil. Clay is often very salty and
However we can treat that with Clay Doctor.
Clay Doctor is a cutting edge soil modifier
that will turn the worse clay soil into loam.
Once treated it is permanently fixed and will
not need further treatments. It is very
affordable and prudent to treat a new lawn
with Clay Doctor at the same time the lawn is
put in. Newer lawns and older lawns with
compacted clay soil can be treated as well, it
makes a huge difference on watering, growth
and overall lawn health.
The other problem I see
most often is that the soil used for these new
homes is completely infested with weeds and
the installers will lay the sod right over
that. This often results in a weedy lawn a
year or two down the road. Mistaya Land deals
with that problem right up front before laying
the new sod.
You'll pay forever and ever
with a costly to maintain and water needy lawn
if you don't pay attention to the soil you have
before you get sod installed. Often it's not
that expensive to bring in some proper soil or treat the
existing soil with Clay Doctor in order
to provide a good working layer that will help
your sod grow well the first year.
you've been "had" by buying or getting poor
soil, we do have some soil treatments,
including Clay Doctor and Terraform that can
be applied after the sod has been installed,
even a few years later. Note: these soil
treatments are not do-it-yourself
applications, specialized equipment and
knowledge is required. We offer them as a
application service only.
us and we'll discuss your options.
Typically our cost for
both supplying and installing sod is about 75
to 95 cents per square foot, however that
doesn't include all the costs, so talk to us
about a quote before comparing or shopping
around. There may be soil required and labour
to spread and level that along with other
amendments and things. The cost per square
foot is close enough to get a good idea of the
and Hydro Mulching
Hydro Seeding and Hydro
Mulching are basically the same thing. With
HydroMulching you just add a lot more of the
mulch and seed mixture than normally used (in
Hydro seeding). Hydro Mulching will give you close
to sod like results as the seed
density is extremely high.
Enhanced Hydroseeding is where
we use a custom blend of organic materials and
fibers to produce a mix that is more like liquid
soil. This blend contains a huge amount of
organic nutrients and natural growth hormones.
The blend helps the grass germinate and grow at
a much faster rate than is possible with
standard wood fiber hydroseeding mulch.
The equipment used is specialized as well.
Regular hydroseeding machines cannot mix and
pump this thick, fibrous slurry without
catastrophic clogging. We are basically applying
a liquified soil and organic nutrient slurry as
a top dressing over your lawn or on bare
Standard wood fiber mulch is
completely inert. meaning it adds NO VALUE for
the grass seed to use to germinate and grow. In
fact in dry and windy conditions common in
Calgary and area, wood fiber mulch is a
detriment as it acts like a wick sucking
moisture from the mulch mix instead of holding
on to it like it is supposed to. Plus wood mulch
will "steal" nitrogen in the soil from the grass
roots in order to decompose itself.
hydroseeding and liquid soil matrix hydroseeding
produces a fast growing, fantastic thick lawn
compare to slower growing standard hydroseeding
The deeper root
systems of Eco grass and the low mow or low
maintenance blends Mistaya Land uses in
hydroseeding are more aggressive and efficient
in pulling out the moisture and nutrients in
our soil. Our blends contain mostly native
grass cultivar blends ideal for turf. These
species produce lawns just a beautiful and
soft as blue grass based sod lawns. Have no
fear, it's more advantageous and just as nice
to walk and play on.
The cost of hydro
seeding is far less than sod and it produces
much better results than broadcast or surface seeding
not work well in Alberta
due to the dryness, high altitude UV
and cooler night time temps.
No-Till Drill or
Mechanical seeding work well for larger yards
like acreages and the cost is a lot lower than
hydroseeding for larger areas (this only applies
to areas over half an acre, under that
hydroseeding is the better value)
We offer many kinds of
grass when seeding or hydroseeding, your
choices include Eco grass, Premium golf course
mixes rich in blue grass, native grasses,
drought resistant blends, sports field blends
and even grazing mixes for those people with
horses on their acreages and farms. We can mix
the varieties on an acreage, such as turf
grass near the home and grazing mix out in the
farther reaches etc.
You can read up on Eco
grass by clicking
For enhanced and soiless
hydroseeding the growth rate is faster, usually
you have a good growth in a month or less.
For standard hydroseeding
a new lawn takes a bit more patience in the
beginning as it takes about 4-6 weeks for the
seed to germinate and grow in thick enough for
a first mow. Watering, like sod is critical in
the first 20 days for residential yards.
can be left to nature (rain) if desired.
The spray on mulch will
seal in the dirt and seeds with a layer of
paper mache like crust held together with a
natural gum compound. You can walk on it and
it's not like a raw dirt surface. the mulch
has green dye in it that will last about a
week before fading so it looks neat and you
can see where the seed/mulch has been applied.
For larger areas like
large acreage's and commercial properties we
can offer mechanical and drill seeding at
lower rates than hydroseeding. We do get great
results with these methods if everything is
done correctly and good moisture is present.
Early spring and summer is best, but we can
seed all summer and right until freeze up and
Cell (403) 519-8200
or leave a voice or
voice (403) 638-8090
Three weeks ago when you came to
rejuvenate my lawn, I was anxious to see
results ASAP, especially after the
experience that I had with the lawn care
company I had used the year
before. I was hopeful but reserved
in thinking that I would actually see
improvements in three weeks. Well,
my lawn has gone NUTS just as Clarence
Patton's lawn did. I'm mowing
every other day (and happy to report
that I am)!
The neighbor across the street whose
grass has been the envy of the
neighborhood (the grass on drugs),
stopped this week and commented that my
grass is looking greener than his!
couldn't be happier.
The grass seed has germinated, the
thatch is breaking down and my once
"skinny" lawn is beginning to fill out
(finally!). The east side has a
green carpet that is filling in
nicely. Who knew (not my
landscaper who said that grass rarely
grows on the east side) ! Thanks
so much! If this is only the first
three weeks, I can't wait to see the end
result. I look forward to the fall
Janet H - Airdrie, Alberta
I Thought I'd give you an update on the
Lawn rejuvenation you did on my
I followed your instructions and watered
consistently. The germination was
a little slow but after two weeks
everything exploded. With a few
good rains the new grass went nuts and
is extremely thick. The areas you
seeded are all a luscious green and
thicker than they have ever been.
To say I am happy is an
I would recommend you to anyone.
I'm having a big Historic Society tour
come through my gardens this Sunday, and
it will be with great pride that I watch
the reactions of the visitors.
Clarence "Clancy" Patton