Laying sod, whether for a new lawn or for a lawn you are renovating, requires careful attention to proper handling and installation. Sod comes in rolls or in large square or rectangular sections that must be cut to size to cover all areas of the lawn. You can avoid a messy or failed result by following the dos and don’ts of successful sod installation.
Do Measure Carefully
Take measurements of the area to be sodded with a tape measure. Sod is more expensive than seeding your lawn, and you should only buy what you need to cover the desired area of your property. Ensure that you are purchasing the right type of sod grass for your needs.
Do Prepare the Soil
Sod should be laid immediately after it arrives, so ensure that the preparatory work is done ahead of the delivery. Use a rototiller or spade the desired area to a depth of 6 inches. Remove all debris from the tilled area including rocks, wood and roots. Then, level the area with a rake. The soil should be 1 inch below driveways, sidewalks and sprinklers. Then, use a lawn roller to press the soil to a level surface. Fill in any low areas and roller the area once again. You should irrigate the soil in advance of laying the sod. Apply an herbicide product to eliminate weeds 10 to 14 days before you intend to install the sod. You should also pre-fertilize the soil with 1 pound of 6-20-20 fertilizer for each 100 square feet of prepared area.
Do Install Properly
Begin laying the sod along a straight line such as a sidewalk or driveway. Butt the edges of the pieces together tightly, neither overlapping them nor leaving any spaces between them. Stagger the joints between rows of sod as you would laying brick. Use a sharp knife to fit in corners, around trees and other obstacles. After installation, water the entire lawn area to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Then, water the new sod three times each day for 15 minutes for 10 days to allow roots to establish.
Don’t Let Sod Dry Out
The sod must be kept moist at all times, whether it is waiting to be installed, laid down or already completed. Sod dries out quickly and dies, so don’t waste money by allowing sod to die before the root system becomes established. Do not allow water to pool on the new sod. If this occurs, reduce watering. Avoid watering at night.
Don’t Mow Immediately
Keep the sod moist and allow the roots to firmly grow into the underlying soil for 10 days. You can then mow your new lawn safely. Set your mower height to ensure that you do not take off more than a third of the grass blade. Don’t use a lawn rake, which will pull up the loosely held sod. Use a grass catcher to keep clippings off the new sod.
Don’t Use the Lawn
Stay off the newly sodded area for three weeks to allow good establishment. This prohibition includes keeping children and pets, especially large dogs, off the lawn so that the turf stays even and level.