Laying Sod: A Step-by-Step Guide to Your New Lawn

Sun Jun 14 2015 | installation | sod

Your new home looks beautiful-everything you've dreamed it would be. You like the neighborhood, your kids enjoy the new schools, and your morning commute is much shorter than before. But you have one problem with your new abode: the yard.

You want a lush, vibrant lawn that the neighbors will admire. Instead, you've got a patch of dirt, rocks, and weeds. You know that sod is the best solution to upgrade your property. After all, sod grows quickly, so you know that you'll have a dense, healthy lawn in just a few short weeks. Best of all, sod naturally resists pests, diseases, and weeds to enhance your yard's lifespan.

It takes just three simple steps to get your property ready for your new sod: prepare the soil, choose the sod, and lay the turf. Below, we've listed easy steps so you can create the perfect yard to match your home.

Step 1: Prepare the Soil

Once sod is laid, it is a relatively low-maintenance option for a beautiful lawn, but you'll need to carefully prepare the soil before you lay the turf. This step ensures that your sod thrives.

Remove Rocks, Weeds, and Patches of Unwanted Grass

You'll need smooth, healthy soil as your base for your new sod. Ask landscaper or your family and friends to help you remove rocks from your property and make sure your soil is debris-free. You may also need to rent a sod cutter to slice weed-ridden or patchy grass below the roots.

Rototill Your Yard

Your sod grows best in well-aerated and oxidized base soil. As you rototill your yard, you loosen and strengthen your soil to give it the oxygen newly-planted sod needs. Also level the soil to about one inch below your driveway and sidewalks to give your new sod enough room.

Test Your Soil

Turf thrives in nutrient rich, slightly acidic soil. Send a soil sample to a lab to ensure your soil will support turf, or ask your provider to examine your soil for you. If your soil isn't stable enough to sustain the sod, the turf can be amended or enhanced to match your soil's features.

Step 2: Choose the Sod

According to landscaper Roger Cook, when you buy sod, you essentially paying for time and sod that other landscapers have cultivated. Your sod provider will help you pick the perfect turf for your new lawn-and you won't even have to wait a year to know what it will look like!

Alert Your Turf Provider of Special Needs

Will your lawn be in full or partial shade? Do you live close to a beach and have sand in your soil? Does your yard contain certain landscaping features? Consider these questions as you work with a turf specialist. He or she recommends certain types of sod based on your yard's features, so inform your provider of any factors that could affect your sod's growth.

Consider Your Time

When sod is first laid, it usually doesn't require more care than periodic watering. But after various types of sod take root, they become more high-maintenance than others. Consider your lawn, time, and interest in lawn maintenance, and then select a sod type that meets your needs.

Consult with Your Turf Provider

Sod specialists usually provide mixed-breed grasses. The hybrids combine two or three different types of grass for optimal color, texture, and health. Ask your provider which sod he or she recommends and prefers.

Step 3: Lay the Turf

Sod specialists will cut your turf and lay it within 24 hours. You should order about 5% more than your lawn's surface area so you have extra sod for corners, curves, and awkward spaces.

Find a Straight Surface

As you start to lay your sod, begin next to a long, straight edge in your yard (like a driveway, or an adjacent sidewalk, or the side of your home). Unroll your first roll of sod along this edge. Pat out any air pockets from underneath it, and take care not to walk on it after you lay it.

Lay the Rest

Align the rest of your sod next to the first straight roll. Use a knife to cut holes for sprinkler heads and to adjust the shape of the sod around flowerbeds, landscaping features, decks, and other yard elements. Lay the rolls snugly beside each other to avoid gaps.

Care for the Newly-Laid Sod

During the first week, stay off of your new lawn and water it daily. The water settles the soil and keeps the fragile sod healthy while it takes root. After this time period, slowly taper your watering. By the first month, you should give your lawn about one inch of water per week. Mow the lawn when it reaches 3 inches in height, and continue to fertilize the grass once a month for at least three months.

As you prepare your soil, select the right sod, and lay it correctly, you'll yield an attractive, rich green lawn that your whole family (and neighborhood) can enjoy. Contact your turf specialist for further information about how to care for your new lawn.