How to properly lay sod?

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How to Lay Sod

Photo by Keller & Keller

Slowing down and watching the grass grow sounds good. In theory. But the reality is that if your lawn needs renewing, you’ll be looking at a big patch of dirt for weeks. And why wait, when summer can begin right now — with a lush green carpet underfoot?

When it comes to getting a thick, healthy lawn, nothing beats sod grass rolls for instant gratification. Sure, it costs a bit more: about $400 to cover a 1,000-square-foot backyard (double that installed). But if you follow our tips for laying sod, in a couple of weeks you’ll have a dense, well-established lawn that’s naturally resistant to weeds, diseases, and pest infestations.

“You’re basically buying time,” says This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook. “You’re paying for turf that someone else has coddled for 14 to 18 months.”

You’re also buying convenience. Sod can be installed spring through fall (and even in winter in mild climates). In areas of the country that favor cool-season grasses, like the Northeast, it avoids the problem of sprouting a nice crop of weeds when seeding a lawn in spring. And in southern states, which favor warm-season grasses like Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and centipedegrass, sod is the best way to cover the yard at any time of year, since these turf types cannot be grown from seed.

“Sometimes sod gets a bad rap, but that’s usually because of mistakes people make while laying it,” says Roger. “Put down on properly prepared soil, it will thrive.” Turf likes a well-aerated base that’s slightly acidic (with a pH between 6 and 7.5) and nutrient-rich. And the only way to know what kind of soil you’ve got is to test it. For about $15, your local extension service will send a soil sample to a lab for analysis; results will come back within a week or two and indicate precisely what amendments you should add and in what quantity.

Then it’s time to buy your sod. Depending on where you live, you can order it from a garden center or directly from a sod farm. It will generally be a mix of two or three turf grasses, chosen for optimal color, texture, and heartiness (be sure to tell your supplier if your yard’s in partial or full shade). Ideally, sod should be delivered within 24 hours of being cut and be laid the same day. Measure your yard carefully so you can order the right amount, with some overage (about 5 percent) to account for cutting around curves.

Count on one weekend to prepare the soil for sod and another to lay the turf. If your yard is covered with patchy grass, you’ll need to remove it first. This is best done with a sod cutter (available from your local rental yard for about $70 per day), which slices it off below the roots. While you’re at it, you’ll want to rent a rototiller (about $55 per day). You’ll also need a sod-cutting knife with a 2-inch blade, a spreader, an iron rake, compost, and other soil amendments, including fertilizer and lime, depending on what your soil analysis dictates. Two people should be able to cover 1,000 square feet in a day; get extra hands if you plan to lay more than that.

Read on for our step-by-step instructions on how to prepare soil for sod and correctly lay out a beautiful carpet of green.

Photo by Keller & Keller

1. Prepare soil

Loosen the top 6 to 8 inches of soil with a rototiller. Spread 2 inches of finished compost (this may be available for free if your town has a municipal compost center). Add 2 to 3 inches of sand to claylike soil to improve drainage. Till in amendments. Then, based on the results from your soil test, use a spreader to lay down the appropriate starter fertilizer, and then lime if needed.

2. Level the surface

Use an iron rake to knock down any high spots and fill in low spots so the soil is level and 1 inch below the grade of any paved surface, such as a walkway or driveway. Water lightly to dampen the soil.

3. Lay the first row

Find the longest straight edge in your yard—here, it was the fence line. Unroll the first roll of sod along it. Keep off the sod while you are installing it, and rake out any footprints as you go. Smooth out loose areas or wrinkles, patting down the sod so it’s flat against the soil underneath it, with no air pockets.

Photo by Keller & Keller

4. Lay subsequent rows

After laying the first row, use the knife to cut off half of the next piece so you can stagger the short seams, as you would in laying bricks. Again, make sure to butt sections of turf snugly against each other without overlapping them. Not only will seams be less noticeable this way but the edges will be less likely to dry out and die back. Use the knife to cut out holes for in-ground sprinkler heads as needed, and to trim pieces along planting beds and paved areas.

5. Water, water, water

Water the installed lawn thoroughly, which also helps settle the soil. Try to keep foot traffic off the sod for a week. Water every day, preferably in the morning: During the heat of the day, you lose a lot of water to evaporation. And if you water at night, the sod goes to bed wet, which can encourage fungal disease. After the first week, cut back watering to every other day, tapering off to just twice a week by the third week. Then like any lawn, give it an inch of water a week, more during hot summer months.

6. Mow the lawn

When the grass reaches 3 inches high, it’s time to mow it down to 2 inches. Because your new lawn is still fragile, use a walk-behind mower (rather than the heavier ride-on type) for the first trim, and be sure to bag the clippings. Though you’ll probably want to grow it higher in the summer months — to encourage a deep root system and to shade out weeds—always aim to cut off one-third of the grass’s length anytime you mow, and be sure to use a sharp blade.

7. Fertilize once more

Allow your lawn about three to four weeks’ growth, then feed it again with a starter fertilizer to make up for nutrients that washed away during the heavy watering schedule.

Photo by Keller & Keller

Secrets From Sod Farmers

These guys have made it their business to figure out the best way to grow lawn grasses. Here’s some advice from the pros for DIY sod installation.

  • Because sod is perishable and dries out quickly, many farmers cut their turf in the middle of the night so that it can be delivered and installed the same day. To keep it moist, consider watering the sod after you lay the first large area and move the sprinkler around the lawn as you complete each subsequent section.
  • Even sod farmers can’t tell how moist soil is by looking at a lawn. Use a soil probe (many types are available at home and garden centers) to check moisture levels. After a thorough watering, soil should be damp 3 to 4 inches below the surface.
  • Strong turf needs plenty of sun; shade-grown grass is weaker and more susceptible to disease since it stays covered with dew longer. Water shady spots less often and reduce fertilizer by 25 percent.

Photo by Keller & Keller

Throwing Sod a Curve

Neat green rectangles of sod fit tightly against each other when laid in straight lines, but they won’t conform to a curve, such as around the edge of a flower bed. Some people cut the sod lengthwise into strips that can be bent around a curve, but This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook says smaller pieces like that are more likely to dry out and die than ones that remain full-width.

Instead, Roger makes his sod curve the way a tailor might, by cutting a dart or two in a full-sized piece. With the sod laid next to the curve, he grabs a couple of spots along one edge and pinces them together to make the sod follow the contours of the bed(1). This creates a triangular upward fold that he slices down its crease with a razor knife(2). One side of the cut goes down against the ground; he lays the other flap on top of it(3). Using the cut edge of this flap as a guide, he saws the knife through the sod and removes the triangular piece underneath(4). Now, the flaps meet and — voila — the cut disappears.

Photo by Keller & Keller

Soil Testing

Before you spend a lot of money to lay down sod, spend a little bit to have your soil tested. Then you’ll be sure you’re providing the best environment for your new lawn to thrive.

A do-it-yourself kit from a garden center will give readings on pH (how acidic or alkaline your soil is) and the levels of crucial nutrients— nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. But for the most accurate and complete results, have your soil tested by your county extension service or state university. They’ll analyze a sample from your yard and send you a report, like the one shown at right, detailing the soil’s pH, texture, and nutrient levels, and recommending how to correct any deficiencies. And it only costs about $15.

Soil can be tested year-round, but it’s best done in the spring or fall. To collect a good sample, dig at least five holes, 6 inches deep by 2 inches wide, in various spots in your yard. As you go, avoid or remove any grass, weeds, thatch, or roots. Mix all the samples together, then put about 2 cups of the mix into a zip-seal bag and send it to the lab.

The more information you give with the sample, the more useful its recommendations will be. Note what kind of turf grass you’ll be using; whether the yard gets lots of shade, sun, or foot traffic; or if the soil has been recently disturbed due to construction. Just don’t wait until the last minute to have a test done. It takes about two weeks to get the lab’s results, and then you’ll need some more time to correct the soil, if necessary, before your sod goes down.

Illustration by Harry Bates

Where to Find It

Sod farms:

Chip Lane

Pine Island Turf Nursery

Pine Island, NY

David Millar

Red Hen Turf Farm

New Carlisle, IN

Landscape contractor

Roger Cook

K & R Tree and Landscape Co.

Burlington, MA

If you need to lay a new lawn, or repair or replace an old one, there is no faster way to get it established then laying sod. It’s not a difficult job if you follow some easy hints. Steve and I have both laid sod before, and we have a step by step guide for you (and one big “got to know”). You will be sore. Accept it now…but it will be from a job well done, and nothing…I mean nothing transforms a yard faster then the velvet green of a sod lawn. So let’s learn how to lay sod, in 6 easy to follow steps!

Lay Sod, or Seed?

Why lay sod instead of seed? First of all, a seeded lawn can take months before it can be used for any kind of regular traffic, be that from pets, kids, or guests. Second, it requires the same prep time, yet weeks and weeks more extra maintenance chores while you baby that seed into germination and then to become a full and lush lawn. Third, seed lawns tend to need patching later on, and use a lot more water to establish. (I guess thats fourth, too!) Need any more reasons? It’s pretty darn satisfying spending a good afternoon laying sod, then to step back and look at your instant happy garden.

Also, sod can be laid pretty much anytime during the growing season, though spring and fall are best. (Summer installation requires more attention to watering!) Seed is best planted in spring, fall planting can be tough.The only con to laying sod (besides the “sore” part) is that it initially costs more than seed. But if you factor in the extra water required to get a seed lawn started, the extra expense patching the lawn later on, and the time spent waiting to use your yard, sod is a pretty good investment.

Sod can be ordered straight from sod companies, or from your local nursery. It is delivered in 3-4 foot rolls on wood pallets, and is sold by the foot. You will need to figure our how many square feet you want to lay before you call to order.

How to Install Sod – Step by Step

1. You can learn to lay sod even if you’ve never planted a thing. Prep is everything when learning how to install sod. Just like any gardening job, prepping the soil will make the difference between a lawn that is healthy and lush, and one that is thin, dries out easily and eventually fails. The weekend before you have the sod delivered, rent or borrow a rototiller and till the soil six inches deep. Add an inch or two layer of compost to the top of the soil and till it in. Then the fun part. (Intense sarcasm.) Using a metal rake, smooth out the area to be sodded, and break up any large chunks. Water.

2. Have the sod delivered the morning of installation if possible. If not, no more than the day before. Water the sod on the pallets lightly to keep it from drying out. Hint: Don’t soak the sod, it will make it much heavier to pick up and carry.

3. Lay your first row of sod, usually along the longest side of the yard. Lay sod strips with the ends butting up together, but not overlapping. This is key to not having weeds growing up between your sod strips while the lawn is establishing.

4. Lay the next row of sod. This row, you want to stagger the seams “like you are laying brick.” Install the rest of your rows in this staggered manner.

5. Use a sharp garden knife to cut strips to fit. My “garden” knife was an old serrated knife from the kitchen drawer. It lasted just long enough to get the whole lawn done. Be warned. It will never cut a fresh baguette again. ;(

6. When the sod is all laid, walk along the seams to gently help them make contact with the soil. Some rent a roller, but we have never had an issue from just walking the seams. Water well with sprinklers.

Water the new lawn every day for a week, then every other day for the next week. By week three, you should be seeing significant growth and you should be able to water like a normal (new) lawn for your climate. When the lawn is 3 inches high, it’s time for the first mowing. It’s also ready for light foot traffic. Sod lawns are pretty tough, you can walk across them to set up a sprinkler, for instance, from day one. Just hold off on the football and slip and slide for a bit, ok?

That’s it, you have learned how to lay sod, and transformed your yard! Anyone laid sod before and want to share their tips? Share with us in comments! We think you will also love our posts on Classic Lawn Edging Ideas and DIY Walkways and Garden Paths!

Image Credits: GH Landscaping, Scienturfic Sod, University Of Minnesota


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

If you’re not afraid of a little sweat equity, here’s how to lay sod that will thrive:

Do a soil test.

“It’s your best opportunity to get the nutrient level correct,” says Waltz. “You want to optimize your chances for success.” Your state’s university cooperative extension service (find yours here) can test your soil for around $20 or less. They’ll also help you decipher the results, figure out what to add before sodding, and advise the best time of year to sod in your region.

Prepare the bed.

House Beautiful

Remove scraggly grass, weeds, rocks, and sticks from the area. Loosen the soil to at least four inches deep; rent a small tiller at the garden center to save your back and your patience! Rake out the surface evenly, then smooth the area with a sod roller, which you also can rent.

Tip: Don’t fill the roller with water, which makes it too heavy; use it empty. Finally, wet the prepared surface with a garden hose or sprinkler until moist, not soaked. If you’re patching areas, follow the same steps but add or remove topsoil as needed so the new sod will be level with the existing turf.

Measure the area.

Sod is sold in square or rectangular slabs about a foot wide by 18 inches long, or in rolls about 60 inches long. Prices vary depending on where you live, time of year and type of grass. You can buy it from sod farms (search for “sod farms near me”) or garden centers, though it’s typically fresher from farms because they don’t cut turf until it’s sold. Typically, each slab runs anywhere from 30 cents to $1 a square foot from sod farmers, or a few dollars per slab at garden centers plus delivery charges.

Time it right.

“Because sod is perishable, you don’t want slabs that have been on pallets for days,” says Waltz. Ditto on delivery times; sod shouldn’t sit around in your yard for more than 24 to 36 hours before you get it down. Even in the shade, slabs start “cooking” the grass and microorganisms that naturally live in turf. Ideally, do all your prep the day before, then lay the sod the next day.

What You Need to Lay Sod

Goatskin Gloves Exemplary Gardens amazon.com $14.99 Mini Tiller Honda homedepot.com $369.00 Garden Rake Bully Tools amazon.com $33.69 Lawn Sprinkler Melnor homedepot.com $19.96
Lay the pieces.

Start from the farthest part of your yard like you’re mopping the floor; you don’t want to walk all over it as you work. Place the first row, butting sections up against each other. Use a sod knife to cut from the green side if you need to trim. Stagger subsequent rows so won’t have one big seam. “It’s like the pattern you’d use if you were laying bricks,” says Waltz. Use your sod roller after installation, then again once or twice over the next few days to ensure even contact of the sod to the prepared soil.

constantgardenerGetty Images

Start watering.

Keep sod moist, not sopping wet. Make sure water is getting to the roots by gently lifting a corner of sod to check the bare soil. Skip fertilizer for now. “Most sod has residual fertilizer in it, and new fertilizer will leach through because there are no roots yet to take it up,” says Waltz. Depending on the species, your sod with take ten days to three weeks to get rooted. After about a month, it’s fine to feed it. But avoid herbicides, which aren’t necessary.

Keep off the grass.

Your newly sodded yard isn’t ready for action yet. Keep heavy traffic off for the first 45 to 60 days. Don’t mow until about the third or fourth week, but scale back watering before you mow to prevent the wheels from sinking in and gouging the surface. Now, sit back and enjoy your new lawn!

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Arricca Elin Sansone Arricca SanSone has written about health and lifestyle topics for Prevention, Country Living, Woman’s Day, and more.

How To Lay Sod in 7 Easy Steps

Here’s what you need to know to get the job done right

1. Prepare the ground before ordering!
It’s IMPORTANT to prepare your ground first before ordering. Your sod needs to be layed within 6-12 hours once you’ve received it.
4 WAYS TO PREPARE BARE AREA
• Rototill, rake debris, level surfaces and lay sod.
• Use “Clear-it’’ (glyphosate) on a thin lawn. When all the green is killed, rake the area and lay sod.
• Rent a small sod harvester and remove the old turf to make way for the new sod. • Set your mower very low to the ground. Mow and rake off debris and put down a thin, good quality top soil before sodding.

2. Grade Surfaces
Carefully level all surfaces to be sodded. Soil surfaces should be 1 inch below walkways, patios and driveways to accomodate sod thickness. A light rolling will show soil depressions or surface irregularities. These can then be leveled.

3. Order Your Sod
Call 905-389-1515 or Order online at OrderSodNow.com
NOTE: We will need 24 hour notice to deliver your sod – excluding Sundays

4. Fertilize the Area

Fertilizer will be used by sod over the next few days as it is watered. Turf starter fertilizer can be applied either on the soil surface or on top of sod after it is down. Apply fertilizer evenly and at the recommended rate. Rake in lightly. Be sure the soil is even and smooth before laying sod. Use Greenhorizons turf starter fertilizer for best results.

5. Lay Sod Within 12 Hours

Begin laying sod as soon as possible (within 6 – 12 hours) upon delivery, especially in the spring (May- June) to avoid damage from heating. Sod that will remain stacked on a pallet for an extended period of time must be unstacked to allow air circulation.
Lay the first strip of sod along a straight line using string as a guide. Butt joints tightly- do not overlap edges. When laying the second strip, stagger the joints, much like laying bricks. Use a sharp knife to cut sod to fit curves, edges, sprinkler heads, etc.

6. Water. Water. Water.
Water within 15 minutes of laying the first roll! Do not wait until the entire area is sodded before watering. As soon as a “sprinkler-sized” area is laid, begin watering it. Then go on to the next section. On a hot day, do not leave laid sod for more than an hour without water. On a cooler, overcast day, do not leave it for more than 2 hours.

7. Roll New Sod
Roll your new-GREENHORIZONS lawn to even out the turf joints and to ensure good contact between the turf roots and soil. Rolling is also effective in eliminating air pockets.
REMEMBER: Keep your new-3-D SOD BLEND well watered for at least 2-3 weeks. This will assist the turf edges to knit and the roots to establish. Now you are ready to enjoy years of pleasure with your beautiful new GREENHORIZONS lawn!

Download How to Lay Sod Reference Guide

How to Lay Your Own Sod – DIY

Learn how to lay your own sod and save valuable time and money! It’s a lot easier than you think, just spend 5 minutes reviewing these 7 steps of how to successfully lay your own sod.

What’s included in the video?

  • How to select the right grass for your yard and your climate;
  • Tips in prepping your lawn;
  • An overview of best practices for laying sod;
  • Tips on how to maintain your yard after installation.

After you watch the above video, check out part two of this video series on the Details of Installing Sod for a more in-depth view on how to lay rolls of sod.

STEP 1: Select the Right Type of Sod

Visit our Turfgrass Selector to select the right type of grass for you and your site.

STEP 2: Measure Area

Make a sketch of your lot and measure the area you wish to sod. Calculate the square feet of product needed by multiplying length times the width of the area measured. Deduct a reasonable amount for buildings, paved drives, and walks.

length x width = square feet of product needed

For assistance with odd lawn shapes, use our Lawn Area Calculator.

STEP 3: Prepare Soil

Prepare the site by grading so that the soil slopes away from foundations and buildings, thus avoiding drainage problems.

If renovating an existing lawn, destroy the current vegetation.

Using native soil only: Till to a depth of 4 to 6 inches, smooth the soil, remove rocks, roots, clods, and vegetation.

Using Soil3 humus compost: Soil3 should be mixed with the top layer of existing soil. Just raking the Soil3 into the existing top soil is usually sufficient. Smooth the soil, remove rocks, roots, clods, and vegetation. Our experience shows that no preplanting fertilizer is necessary when using Soil3. Apply and rake in dolomitic lime based on soil test results and/or according to the formulas below. More Soil3 info at www.soil3.com and under Laying New Sod with Soil3.

Water heavily to see if water puddles in any low spots, and if it does, add soil and/or regrade to eliminate low spots. Keep soil surface 1/2 inch below walks and drives. Tilled soil will settle some.

Apply and rake in fertilizer and dolomitic lime based on soil test results and/or according to the formulas below.

STEP 4: Schedule Delivery

Schedule your sod to be delivered after the site is prepared and you are ready to install. Prompt installation on the day of delivery is crucial to a strong beginning for your lawn. To avoid running short consider ordering slightly more sod than your measurements require.

STEP 5: Install Sod

Water to dampen the bare soil and start laying sod immediately after delivery.

In hot weather, protect unlaid sod by placing in the shade.

Begin installing sod along the longest straight line, such as a driveway or sidewalk. Butt and push edges and ends against each other tightly. Stretch lightly. Avoid gaps or overlaps. Stagger the joints in each row in a brick-like fashion, using a large sharp knife to trim corners, etc.

On slopes, place sod across (perpendicular) to the slope, not horizontally with the slope.

After installing the turf, roll the entire area to improve sod/soil contact and to remove air pockets.

If installing dormant sod, consult our guide on How to Lay Dormant Sod.

STEP 6: Water Frequently

Begin watering your lawn within 30 minutes of installation. Sod is a living plant that requires soil contact and moisture to survive.

Water daily, or more often, keeping sod moist until it is firmly rooted (about 2 weeks). Lift a piece of sod here and there to ascertain that you are watering enough to wet the original soil below the sod.

After the rooting-in period, less frequent and deeper watering should begin. Water to supplement rainfall shortages only. Avoid fixed timer irrigation settings. Lawns best perform when they receive approximately 1 inch of water per week. If one or more inches of rainfall occur in a week, additional irrigation is not necessary. (Example: if 1/2 inch of rain occurs within a growing week, apply 1/2 inch by irrigation.) Do not waste water by over watering; avoid run-off. (How and When to Water)

Weather conditions will dictate the amount and frequency of watering. Be certain that your new lawn has enough moisture to survive hot, dry, or windy periods.

Water areas on mounds and berms and near buildings more often, where reflected heat dries the turf.

STEP 7: Mow

Begin mowing as soon as your sod has rooted to the extent that mowing does not displace it. It is important that mowing not be delayed too long. Cut high the first time, but gradually and deliberately lower the cut-height.

CAUTION:

Insects seek out lush, tender grass and can quickly multiply or migrate into a new lawn with devastating consequences. Regulations do not permit sod growers to use long-lasting insecticides and we do not attempt to eradicate all insects simply to control the population. All sod is probably shipped with some insects and their larvae or eggs. It is therefore imperative that you watch closely for insect damage and immediately apply an insecticide if needed. Sevin is among the safer insecticides and usually controls the most rapid population builders such as armyworms and sod webworms. We cannot be responsible for insect damage to your new lawn.

Topics: How-To, laying sod, DIY

How to Lay Sod. A Step by Step Guide to the Perfect Lawn.

Not sure how to lay sod? In about 2 minutes you’ll be an expert. Laying sod is really easy. Follow these steps and you’ll be drinking lemonade and playing croquet in no time.

Skip right to the instructions on how to lay sod.

7 years ago I ripped out most of my front yard and started from scratch. Overgrown bushes? Gone. Scraggly bushes? Gone. Possibly possessed bushes? Gone for good.

I performed an exorcism on my front yard.

I got rid of everything and replaced it with with beds of vegetables. I also ripped out perhaps the scariest thing of all. The grub grass. Grass decimated by grubs. I replaced it with new sod and my yard suddenly had that new car feeling. Only, it was a lawn. This remember, was 6 years ago. My sod now looks sad again. I’m not sure if it’s grubs (I have’t been super-diligent about applying nematodes) or general wear and tear or what but my sod now looks less new car and more like a cobbled together junkyard heap.

Therefore, I’m thinking about replacing my sod again. I know. Get rid of the grass. But I like how it looks and feels on my feet. I like cutting it with my push mower. It isn’t a lot of grass, it acts mainly as a path in between the vegetables.

The first time I did this I was a bit worried about the cost, since I’m cheap and would normally do something like reseed. But reseeding takes a really long time, it can be spotty, you can’t walk on it for months (which was NOT going to work for me) and all of the seed I’ve ever purchased (from cheap to expensive) has come with a few parting gifts in the form of mutant weeds.

So after taking a few measurements and calling around I discovered I could buy all the sod I needed to do my front yard for the whopping sum of … $95. $45 for the sod, and $50 for delivery.

Laying sod is really easy and I realize I might be in the minority here, but I found I really liked laying sod. The prep work was kindda gross, but the actual laying and cutting of the sod was fun and the result is INSTANT. BOOM! Pretty green grass. Just like that.

It’s incredibly simple, but to lay sod and have it “stick” you do have to follow a few steps.

First thing you need to do is get drunk.

Hey!

No.

That’s not right. Sorry … that’s what you do prior to a job interview. Silly me. Here’s how you lay sod …

Step 1. The first thing you need to do (after removing your old sod) is dig up the earth and get it good and broken up.

Step 2. Now rake the soil out so it’s level.

Step 3. Grab some lawn starter fertilizer.

Step 4. Sprinkle the fertilizer over your soil. (instructions on how much will be on your fertilizer container)

Step 5. Shovel a 3″ layer of top soil over everything.

Step 6. Level the top soil with a rake.

Step 7. Lay down your sod in a brickwork pattern. This is your final and most fun step.

Always lay your sod in a brickwork pattern. In other words, don’t have all your edges of sod lining up with each other. Stagger them.

For a better chance of your sod “taking” on all the edges, slightly overlap the sod so it’s a bit too tight, like you see in the picture below. Then step on the 2 edges where the sod meets. It’ll squish down together forming a good bond of soil and sod.

To cut straight lines, lay a plank of wood down and run a carpet knife along the sod to cut it. (carpet knife $8 from hardware store)

Anddd … you’re done. The only part left is to water, water, WATER. You need to water deeply every single day for about a month to ensure the growth of your grass. Letting it dry out even once will spell disaster. It is not allowed to dry out. Speaking of which …

Now you can fix yourself a drink and get drunk.

Unless you have a couple of these. In which case, they can fix your drinks for you.

Congratulations on your first lay.

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How to Install Sod, in just 5 Easy to Follow Steps

In this guide, you will learn how to install sod in just five easy steps.

So you have decided to go with turf, but you aren’t too sure on how to install sod? You have come to the right place. Sod installation doesn’t have to be difficult, and with these 5 simple steps you will have your brand new lawn in no time!

Once you have decided on your turf and had it delivered, you are now ready to install your new greenery. If you need help deciding on a turf variety check out our turf variety guide.

Lets get started with step number 1!

The first step in our guide on how to install sod is very similar to many other landscape projects, start with a clean, level surface.

There are a few different techniques that can be implemented for this process-

How to Install Sod Without Removing Existing Lawn

In my experience if you have an existing lawn it is not always necessary to remove it, in order to install sod,as long as you can level the ground with some organic material.

But remember you will need make the sod level with any edges such as walkways, driveways, or any other surface level with the ground.

To install sod on an existing lawn, cut any existing grass low, and level out any holes or step dips in the yard. Bring in a top soil/ compost mix and spread it evenly through the yard. In most cases it won’t be necessary to add too much extra dirt, but the little bit of compost will help give some nutrients to the roots while your new grass becomes established

How to Remove Existing Lawn

Though it is generally thought to be OK to lay sod over an existing lawn, some landscapers and homeowners prefer to remove any existing lawn before installation of sod.

There are three ways to remove your existing lawn-

Using Chemicals

Using a glyphosphate like Round Up you can spray your existing lawn, and sod over the dead grass.

Using a Tiller or Bedscaper

If you live where rocks and roots are not an issue, you can use a tiller or bedscaper, to till existing grass into the soil. While your at it add some compost and fertilizer, and mix it in. This type of lawn preparation is timely, but may be the best way to really give your sod a head start.

Using a Shovel (and elbow grease)

If you are really determined to remove that grass, and don’t want to use chemicals or can’t use a tiller, then a shovel may just be your best option. It’s a lot of work, but it will get the job done. Be sure your surface is level when you are through

Now that you have prepared the surface its time to make sure that your edges are prepared properly.

You may have already done this in step one of How to Install Sod, but if you have not be sure to now.

Be sure that edges along any paths, parts of the driveway, or garden beds are dug down enough that when the sod is laid it will be even with the surface. Usually this will be about 1 inch below the fixed edge you are installing around.

If you have not already, it’s time to fertilize.

Fertilizing now will allow all of your fertilizer to get fully beneath the surface to feed the roots. Though you can add fertilizer after laying the sod, you may lose some of it due to runoff.

Fertilizers are essential for a green lawn as they aid your new sod with nutrient uptake and improve the soils PH, which allows the roots to establish themselves deeper in the soil, leading to a healthier, happier, and greener lawn.

Now it’s time for the fun part!

Your surface has been leveled and prepared, and it’s time to unroll your brand new lawn!

Start with the longest fixed edge or any edge in the landscape that can not be moved e.x. garden beds, house, sidewalk etc. Using scissors, clippers or a knife cut your edge in, laying the sod parallel to the longest fixed edge.

Tips For A Proper Installation

  1. Start the first run on the longest fixed landscape edge
  2. Be sure to stagger each run so that the short edges don’t line up with each other
  3. Do not Overlap edges
  4. Be sure that the turf is level with any fixed edge, where it needs to be

Finally water in your new lawn, and admire your hard work!

Make sure you water in the new sod for at least one hour per day for the first 10 days, otherwise the investment in your new turf grass will most likely perish, as newly laid sod needs tons of water while it is “rooting” to your lawn.

If you are installing your grass during the summer months, you’ll need to double the watering to at least twice a day for a one hour duration to compensate for the high temperatures . Of course, if you’re lucky enough to get some rain, you will not need to water on that particular day.

Final Maintenance Points

  1. Be sure to maintain proper levels of irrigation while your turf establishes itself
  2. Walk on your new lawn as little as possible, newly laid turf can be fragile for the first few weeks, especially when wet.
  3. Fertilize at least twice a year.
  4. Wait about 2 weeks before cutting the grass.
  5. Once your lawn is established, follow the Lawn Maintenance Guide to keep it in all its glory.

That’s it, now you see just how simple it is to install sod. With this easy to follow guide you to now know how to install sod like The Sod Father.

Thanks to the Lawn Father for the Graphics check them out here.

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Six Steps to Proper Turfgrass Installation

Proper turfgrass installation is key to protecting your investment and getting the best performance from your newly planted sod. Whether using a professional installer or planting the sod yourself, it is important to know the best practices for installation.

Step 1 – Test the Soil

There is no better time to enhance a lawn’s ultimate beauty and success than by improving the soil before any planting takes place. The best way to give your lawn the perfect growing environment is to test the soil before the turfgrass installation to determine its level of nutrients. You can contact your local extension office to obtain a soil test kit. To take a soil test, gather soil samples from several places around the area you’ll be sodding and place the soil from each location in a separate labeled bag. It typically takes about two weeks to receive the results.

Step 2 – Measure

Once your soil is tested and any necessary adjustments are made, the next step before turfgrass installation is to measure the area to be sodded. There are several ways to measure your lawn. Sod Solutions has developed a map-based Area Calculator that allows you to click around the perimeter of your property to determine square footage. This tool allows you to use multiple overlays to calculate complex shapes with good accuracy. Of course, the old-school method of using a tape measure or the “step” method also can be used, breaking your lawn down into basic shapes and adding them together.

We recommend ordering 5 to 10 percent more sod than you estimate you need to ensure full coverage. Most pallets will be 450 to 500 square feet, which typically is the smallest quantity that can be ordered. A truckload of sod will range from 16 to 20 pallets, depending on where you live.

Step 3 – Kill and Remove Old Grass

Killing and removal of old grass is the next step before the actual turfgrass installation and toward great performing turfgrass. We recommend applying Roundup® or another glyphosate-based product. Glyphosates are broad-spectrum systemic herbicide products designed to kill weeds and competing grasses. They are contact weed killers that require plants to soak up the active ingredient through its leaves, so you’ll want to avoid applying when the grass is wet, when rain is expected or when grass is freshly cut to maximize effectiveness. After applying, wait three to four days and make a second application. Once you have a fully brown lawn, use a sod cutter or rototiller to remove the top layer of grass and debris to create a smooth and graded surface for laying new turf. Make sure all grass and debris is removed from the landscape, but remember to mark any irrigation heads to avoid breaking them.

Step 4 – Site Preparation and Grading

Proper site preparation makes it easier for new grass roots to penetrate deeply and evenly. Deep roots will make the lawn denser and drought resistant and will allow more efficient use of water and nutrients. A dense lawn crowds out weeds and better resists insects and disease. Turfgrass Producers International recommends the following site preparation steps:

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