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Landscaping 101

How to lay sod

5 min read

installing rows of sod on lawn

Sod or seed?

Do you know what's better than having a nice, lush lawn to play on next summer? Having it right now. Why wait a year to get the lawn of your dreams?

You’ve removed all your old grass and now you have two choices. You can use grass seed and wait a year for that lovely lawn to grow or, buy some sod and have it now!

If you want a lush, green lawn now, then buy some sod. Of course, this does come with some extra work but the instant gratification is satisfying.

Planning

It is recommended that before you grab a shovel and start digging up the yard, you first sit down and do some planning. There are some things to go over before you learn how to lay sod.

Map the yard

Start by drawing a map of the area you are going to work in. This will require taking measurements. Make sure you account for any odd-shaped areas and walkways.

Next, calculate the square footage of the yard. This is done by multiplying length times width. This is the amount of sod that will need to be ordered.

Tools you will need

  • Sharp knife or cutters - for slicing the sod
  • Sod cutter - to remove existing sod
  • Rototiller - to dig up the dirt
  • Spreader - to broadcast the fertilizer
  • Rake - to even out the yard
  • Shovel - to even out the yard
  • Roller - to set the grass
  • Prepare the area

Remove the grass

If there is already a lawn present, use a sod cutter to remove it. The sod cutter will separate the grass from the ground making it easy to roll up and discard. If there isn't an existing lawn, you can skip directly to the rototilling.

Rototilling

Rototill to about six or eight inches deep. This will loosen up the soil and make it easier for the sod to root.

Fertilizer

Selecting the correct fertilizer is crucial. You should always take samples from a few areas of the yard and use a soil test kit.

Once you have the fertilizer, fill up the hopper in the broadcaster and roll it around the yard to apply. Next, rake it a couple of inches into the soil. The rototiller could also be used instead of the rake.

Level the yard

To test how level the yard is, use a long 2-inch by 4-inch board to reveal any high or low spots. If it doesn't sit level, redistribute the soil until it does. Additional dirt may need to be added to the yard.

If there are any paved surfaces or garden dividers make sure they are at least one inch above the level of the soil. This way they won't end up below the level of the grass.

man installing sod in front yard

Order the sod

It is recommended to wait until the yard is ready for application before ordering the sod. Once the farmer removes the sod from the ground it becomes very time-sensitive. Therefore, install it within a day or two.

When the sod arrives, place it in the shade to keep it from drying out. If there is no shade, cover it with a tarp.

Install the sod

Laying the sod

The prep work is done, now it's time to go over how to lay sod. Start by getting the dirt slightly damp, but not too wet.

Next, before laying sod identify a straight outside edge. Then, unroll the strip and press it down into the soil.

The next roll will lie beside the first. It should also be offset so that strip ends are never next to each other. This will prevent a gap that could lead to the grass drying out. Use a sharp knife or cutters to remove any excess sod.

Curves

Laying sod on curves is done using darts. Cut a triangle-shaped piece out of the sod, then bring the edges together. You may need multiple darts in larger curves.

Rolling the sod

Now it's time to grab the roller. Pass it over all the new sod. This will make sure it is in contact with the soil and remove any air pockets.

Final steps

Now that the sod is laid, it needs some water. It is important that the sod does not dry out.

From this point, there is some basic maintenance. For the first two weeks, watering is done daily. If it is hot then water twice a day, but if it rains, then water less frequently or not at all.

Additionally, wait to cut the grass until it is three inches high. However, this first cut should be taller than usual. Future mowing is done at the normal setting.

After four weeks, throw some more fertilizer on the lawn. The increased watering likely washed away a good portion of what was already applied.

Finally, start watching for bugs. If they appear, apply insecticide as needed.

The lawn is ready

The transformation from dirt to green grass in a matter of hours is amazing. A professional-looking lawn is achievable without having to wait a year. The steps involved in how to lay sod aren't hard to follow. In fact, the hardest part is probably staying off the lawn for the first three or four weeks. But after that, the lawn is ready for fun and relaxation.

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