How To Lay Sod Guide
Time Required: 2-4 hours
Sod installation is a landscaping project that many homeowners can perform themselves. The preparation should begin a few weeks before you’re ready to lay the new sod, as you’ll need to get the ground ready and have fresh rolls on hand the day of installation. Plan the project for a day when the weather forecast is clear, as rain can delay your efforts. Keep reading below for guided instructions on laying sod in your yard.
- Sod – Plan the pick up or schedule the delivery for the day you plan to complete the project. Fresh sod needs to be planted quickly so it can be watered and start receiving nutrients from the soil.
- Lawn fertilizer - Deciding exactly when to fertilize a lawn depends on the growth pattern, but remember to spread fresh fertilizer about a month after sod installation.
- Tiller – This is used to cultivate the lawn for and allow for proper aeration.
- Gardening gloves – Use these to protect your hands while tilling the soil and laying the sod.
- Face mask – Wear one to prevent excess dirt and lawn debris inhalation.
- Shovel – Use this to help prep the soil and pat the sod into the ground.
- Rake – Raking the ground helps loosen the soil in preparation for new sod.
- Soil test kit – Test the ground to make sure it’s pH balanced and will promote healthy growth
- Utility knife – Use as needed to cut patches of sod for a perfect fit.
- Topsoil – Add a fresh layer of soil in preparation for the new sod.
- Before you begin, take measurements of your yard to make sure you gather enough sod for the project. Landscaping is generally measured in square feet and the easiest way to calculate your space is to walk the area.
- Since the average human step is roughly three feet, tread the perimeter and multiply the number of steps by three to determine the length and width. Multiply those two numbers to find the square footage.
- New sod cannot be placed over existing growth, so to prepare you lawn, kill all the weeds and stray plant life. Start by watering the area and spraying an herbicide over the entire yard. Then, lay compost atop the lawn and let it sit for a few weeks to fully suppress the soil.
- Once the existing plant life dies, till and rake the ground to loosen the terrain and unearth any buried rocks. Lay fresh topsoil if needed and fertilize the ground so it’s healthy and ready to receive the new sod.
- Test the fresh terrain using a soil test kit to make sure the pH and mineral levels are ideal. These are generally color coded and include a chart for easy reading.
Tip: Vinegar is an all-natural, environmentally friendly alternative to traditional herbicides.
- Start along a straight edge in your yard and unroll the first row of sod. Try following the line of your patio, driveway or fence to keep the edges straight and even.
- Rake the soil as you lay the sod to clear any bumps under the surface.
- After you’ve laid the first row, smooth out any areas that have wrinkled or bunched up, but be careful not to step on it. Then, carefully pat the patch into the ground with a shovel to remove any air pockets and encourage the sod to take root.
- When the lawn is fully covered, check for gaps in hard-to-reach, curved or oddly shaped areas.
- Use the utility knife to cut smaller pieces and patch those open spaces accordingly and make sure to cut openings for sprinkler heads and any other obstructions sticking up from the ground.
- Lay smaller rows of sod along the perimeter of flower beds, driveways and walkways, and fill in small seams with more topsoil. Continue patting to remove air pockets.
- New sod should be watered as soon as possible to make sure it thrives.
- Water it daily for the first week, preferably in the morning, and avoid walking on it as much as possible.
- After the first week, you can reduce the irrigation schedule to every other day, and then twice per week as the sod begins to take root.
- Once the grass grows to roughly three inches high, it’s time for a proper trim. We recommend using a push mower as new patches are still fragile at this time.
- Fertilize the lawn after you mow it to add fresh nutrients to the soil.