How to Install Sod

Installing Your Sod

It is helpful to know the steps involved with sod installation.  Whether you’re doing it yourself or using a professional, taking the following important steps will help you avoid problems like overwatering and dead grass that you may experience in the future.

STEP 1: Measuring Your Lawn
Step 1

To ensure that you properly measure your lawn, use our Map Based Area Calculator which allows you to click around the perimeter of your property to determine the number of square feet. You can use multiple overlays to calculate complex shapes with good accuracy. You can also measure your yard the old-fashioned way by breaking it down into basic shapes and adding them together.  To ensure full coverage we recommend ordering 5%-10% more than you estimate.  Pallets are 450 sq. ft. which is the smallest quantity that can be ordered.

STEP 2: Prepare Your Lawn
Step 2

The next step in sod installation is to kill and remove your old grass.  We recommend applying RoundUp® or other glyphosate-based product and then waiting 3-4 days before making a required second application.  Keep in mind that glyphosate is a contact-based weed-killer that requires the plant to soak up its active ingredient. To maximize its effectiveness, avoid applying the product when the grass is wet, rain is expected, or when the grass is freshly cut to maximize effectiveness.  When done, you should have a fully brown lawn. You will then need to use a sod cutter or roto-tiller to remove the top layer of grass and debris to create a smooth and graded surface for laying new sod. Be sure to mark any existing irrigation heads to avoid breaking them. This layer should be removed from the landscape.

STEP 3: Preparing and Grading Your Soil
Step 3

A good adage to remember when growing grass is, “The beauty is in the blades, but the ‘action’ is in the roots.”  Thus, the value of proper site preparation and soil improvement before any planting takes place is that it will be easier for the grass roots to penetrate deeply and evenly upon installation.  Deep roots will make the lawn more drought resistant, a more efficient water and nutrient user, and denser as new grass plant shoots emerge. A dense lawn crowds out weeds and better resists insects and disease. For more information on soil preparation, see our Soil Preparation Fact Sheet. For detailed steps on grading and soil preparation, see our Site Preparation Steps.

STEP 4: Lay and Roll Your New Lawn
Step 4

Once your lawn is ready for sod installation, it is time to have it delivered and installed.  Grass should be off the pallet and on your lawn in 48 hours or less, preferably installed on the same day.  Excessive time on a pallet can quickly dry the grass out. It is best to use a brick pattern when laying with offsetting seams.  Use a landscape edger or machete to cut around corners and at the edges. Most sod harvesters don’t cut straight down, but at a slight angle, so you can use this to your advantage to get tighter seams by matching the angle on the pieces to fit together as snugly as possible.  Once installed the grass should be rolled for smoothness. Visible seams will go away within a few short weeks.

STEP 5: Water, Fertilize, and Mow Your Lawn
Step 5

During sod installation, it is essential that turf be watered thoroughly.  Soak the sod upon installation and water as needed to keep it from drying out.  The soil should be moist 3-4 inches deep. Overwatering for an extended period, however, will severely damage the turf, inducing disease and rotting roots.  It usually takes 7-10 days during the active growing season for the sod to establish, but may take longer during cooler weather. Proper rooting can be checked by lifting a corner of the new sod piece and noting if “white” roots have connected to the ground. Mow the new sod 7-10 days after installation.  Your sod should arrive with a fresh application of fertilizer which will last for a few weeks. We recommend purchasing Lawnifi™ Starter Box once your sod has rooted to assist with growing and maintaining your new sod. For the first 2-3 weeks after install, try to keep traffic to a minimum to give the roots an opportunity to firmly knit with the soil and ensure that it will remain smooth and level.

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