Sod Sofa Turns Lawn Into Lounge

"How much oxygen did your furniture produce today?"

That's the question Greg Tate asks people after they've seen his "sod sofa". The California architect encourages people to "sprout a couch" by sculpting furniture out of a lawn itself.

In an article published in "ReadyMade Magazine," Tate says you can calculate the amount of dirt you'll need by simply multiplying the dimensions of the couch you plan to make. His sod couch was 8 by 8 by 4-ft., or 256 cubic feet.

"Clear the area of grass and weeds until you have a level swath of dirt. Then sketch the shape of the couch into the dirt with a stick," he explains. "Drive wood stakes into the ground along the perimeter every 18 in. or so, to a depth of about 12 in. These will secure the form."

Next, nail waferboard to the stakes to create "walls," and start shoveling dirt into the form.

Once the dirt is a foot high, water lightly and compress it by stomping around on top of it. Continue compaction every foot or so until you reach the top of the form.

"Once the basic shape is in place and secure, carefully remove the wood form and mold the couch to your liking, rounding off the corners. Next, sit on the couch and squirm around to form a comfortable seat. Completely smooth out the entire sofa like a large sculpture, making sure it is the exact shape and comfort you want. Then sprinkle the sofa with a healthy layer of fertilizer and gypsite and water lightly," he says. "For extra reinforcement, lay strips of poultry wire netting over the arms and back.

"Now you're ready to lay the sod. Stagger the rows so the seams don't fall in a line, and use chopsticks or planting stakes to hold the sod in place over the wire. During the next few weeks, water your sofa often, soaking it thoroughly. Once the sod has taken root, remove the planting stakes and trim as needed with an ordinary weed trimmer."

To add to the emphasis on truly "outdoor furniture," Tate suggests making a "sand bag chair" in conjunction with the sod sofa. Use 3 ft. long by 5/8-in. dia. rebar stakes driven about a foot or so into the ground behind the chair for support. Otherwise the bags will slip away.

"I've always wanted to do an entire installation of sod furniture with sofas, chairs, ottomans and such, as an outdoor room - complete with river rock "throw rug," says Tate.