How to Lay Sod

These 10 steps on how to lay sod will make your lawn an instant showpiece of the neighborhood.

  1. Prepare soil. Clean site of weeds and stones. Add organic matter. Apply a starter fertilizer. Rake soil bed smooth and level. The prepared bed should be an inch lower than it would be for a seeded lawn. Since sod comes with its own soil, this increased depth will ensure the new lawn will be even with walkways.
  2. Buy sod. The sod will arrive piled on pallets in rolled or folded strips with the soil side exposed. The strips are usually 1 to 2 feet wide and 4 to 10 feet long. Each roll typically costs between $3-6 per roll. The grass should be at least 2 inches long and the same green color. The underlying soil should be dark and moist, 1 inch thick, and show dense healthy roots.
  3. Lay sod as soon as possible after harvest. Store in shade. Keep it rolled and moist until ready to use it. If left in stacks for more than 24 hours in warm weather, it can die.
  4. Lay first row out following a straight line. The line may be a sidewalk, or string pulled taut between stakes. Unroll gently.
  5. Start second strip so its end neatly abuts the first.
  6. Lay subsequent rows in a staggered pattern. The end seams on one row should fall in the center of the previous row. Fill in gaps with loose soil.
  7. On slopes, lay sod perpendicular to slope. This prevents it from sliding when watering. If slope is very steep, use stakes to keep sod in place. Use 2 to 4 stakes per roll.
  8. Cut the sod to fit irregular spaces. Use a heavy-duty knife or small hatchet.

  9. Pat down the sod (or use a roller) to establish good root contact with the soil. Air pockets can cause the sod to dry out and die. Do not stand on newly planted sod. If necessary, stand on a board to help distribute your weight.
  10. Deeply water the lawn often. Pay attention to the seams between the sod and edges along walkways/driveways because they dry out quickly. Water everyday for the first three weeks. Then every other day for the next three weeks. Although books tell you to only water twice a week, this is not enough!

    **Note: In the past, I’ve had beautiful new sod lawns die because customers do not water them enough. Now, I refuse to install sod for customers unless they have sprinkler systems because I don’t trust them to water adequately.

Once you've mastered how to lay sod, make sure you protect your investment with a diligent chemical program. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, have a local lawn treatment company do it. You can sign up online for a free estimate.

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