If you have never heard of blueberry sod, this is your chance to simplify the way you approach lawn care. Beautiful and delicious, using blueberry sod as ground cover is a great alternative to planting a new lawn. It is much easier to grow and care for, and a unique way to enhance your garden's fruiting potential.
Seeding a lawn requires effort – clearing the area, tilling the soil, planting seeds, and providing irrigation while you wait for the seeds to turn into lush ground cover. You also need to keep the area clear of weeds until a thick turf develops. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could unroll a lawn like a carpet over bare ground? Put simply, sod is grass that arrives in a roll, pre-grown, with soil and roots. If you are considering using blueberry ground cover as a lawn substitute, you can use blueberry sod to achieve your goal quickly.
What is Blueberry Sod?
Blueberry sod is one of the easiest ways to plant blueberry ground cover. It costs more than other methods, like seedling or installing plants, but the amount of work and time required is so reduced that it has many fans. Like a grass sod that you lay, blueberry sod is a layer of pre-planted earth. It is sold in rolls and arrives at your house with mature roots. That means that it can be installed immediately.
This type of sod can be used on flat spaces, but also on slopes or even hillsides. It is an effective way to combat erosion, since it holds soil in place, absorbs rainwater and creates a beneficial wildlife habitat. All this, and it also provides delicious berries.
How to Plant Blueberry Sod
The trickiest thing about planting blueberry sod is that you cannot unroll it over vegetation like grass or weeds. Blueberry sod roots are mature, but they need to be in direct contact with the soil in order to establish. Anything that comes between the roll of sod and the soil prevents roots from digging in deep.
Luckily, you don't have to worry about ground-cover spacing as the blueberry sod has already taken care of that for you. Simply lay the sod over the soil, then water it in. Provide generous irrigation on a daily basis for the next 15 days. The soil just below the sod should feel damp after watering. After a month, apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer, and repeat in another month's time.
Blueberry Sod Care
As anyone who already has experience of growing blueberries will know, all varieties require full sun to thrive. The spot you select for your ground cover blueberries should have access to at least six hours of sun a day.
After the sod root system has established, two weeks after laying the blueberry sod, change to a less frequent but deeper irrigation schedule. This encourages the blueberry plants to deepen their roots. They should get about an inch (2.5cm) of water every week, so supplement rainfall if it is not sufficient.
Temperature & Humidity
Different types of blueberries have different temperature and humidity requirements. For example, lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) prefers chillier climates and is hardy to USDA zones 2-8, while creeping blueberry (Vaccinium crassifolium) only grows in zones 6-9. Generally, lowbush blueberries do not require humid air, while traditional highbush types do.
Blueberries require excellent drainage. The soil should contain organic material and, above all, it needs to be acidic. It's a good idea to test your soil before installing your blueberry sod, and raise the acid levels where necessary.
A good blueberry fertilizer can help nourish your ground cover. After the blueberry sod has established, let the crop grow for a year. After that, apply a fertilizer annually for acid-loving plants.
Problems, Pests & Diseases
You and your family will get plenty of mileage from your blueberries, but you won't be alone– wild birds also love these juicy berries. Indeed, keeping birds at bay will be your biggest problem when growing blueberry sod for ground cover and crops. You may have to use a taut netting or a bird deterrent that repels birds with bird distress calls.
This type of ground cover is susceptible to blueberry pests like fruit worms, scale, plum curculio and blueberry tip borer. They also have problems with fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and leaf spot. Choose resistant varieties to reduce the risks of such problems occurring.
Best Blueberry Ground Cover Varieties
Several species of blueberry sod are available as handy ground-cover blueberries. If you're after the best varieties of blueberry, one is lowbush blueberry sod. This is a good choice if your site matches the cultural requirements for lowbush blueberry as ground cover. Some companies offer wild blueberry sod which is a native mix of hundreds of genetically distinct wild blueberry plants. These offer a mixture of berry flavors, shapes and colors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Blueberries Good for Erosion Control?
Blueberry sod is an excellent choice for erosion control in appropriate locations. The sod itself locks in the soil and prevents it from being washed away.
Do You Need Two Blueberry Plants for Fruit?
When you install sod, it contains not one, not two, but many blueberry plant roots. Therefore, you do not have to worry about this. In case you are still curious, most blueberry cultivars are self-pollinating.
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Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.
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