How to lay sod

Laying sod is an easy way to add some major curb appeal to your lawn quickly, but it should be done correctly. Sod needs to be cared for like a newborn infant, or the results won’t be quite as appealing as they could be. Below is an easy 3-step guide to follow the next time you lay your sod, as well as some frequently asked questions and answers.

Step 1: Prepare the soil

Clear the area – loosen and even out the top layer – lay starter fertilizer and water

Prior to installing fresh sod, begin by clearing the designated area of any existing grass, vegetation, or debris. Applying an herbicide first makes the removal process a lot easier. Before applying an herbicide, distinguish between selective and non-selective herbicides. While selective herbicides target specific weeds, non-selective herbicides kill all vegetation they come into contact with, so care must be taken to avoid desired shrubs, trees, or gardens.

Apply the herbicide 10-14 days before installing new sod, with a possible second application if results aren’t seen within 3-4 days. Once the grass is deceased, use a sod cutter or rototiller, to loosen the top 4 to 8 inches of soil. Remove all rocks, vegetation, roots, and clods in the area you wish to lay sod.

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At this point you can add 2-3 inches of topsoil, level it out with a garden rake, and add some starter fertilizer. Keep the ground moist and the soil loose so the new roots can penetrate the soil and grow strong. Proper site preparation facilitates deep and even root penetration for the new grass. It creates a more dense, drought-resistant lawn that outcompetes weeds, resists pests, and is more resilient to diseases.

Step 2: Laying the sod

Lay it the day you buy it, longways, staggering the pieces

Lay the sod the day of purchase to avoid it drying out. Start out by laying the sod along the longest straight edge you have, like the driveway or sidewalk. Push the edges together tightly and do not overlap any pieces. Tuck the sides and smooth it out as you go, and be sure to stagger the pieces in a bricklike fashion.

If you have slopes, place the sod across the slope, do not lay it in the direction of the slope. When you come to a corner or edge, use a box cutter or utility knife to cut the sod so that it lays tightly along the edges. Avoid loose spots so no weeds pop through. Once it is all laid, you can roll the sod to smooth it out and remove any air pockets.

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Step 3: Water water water

You will want to water your new sod for about a half hour to an hour a day for the first 3 weeks. Twice a day if it is hot outside. The edges are more prone to drying out as well, so target those areas. You want the soil underneath the sod to be moist but not muddy after watering. This can be checked by pulling up a corner of the sod after the first watering.

Keep foot traffic off the sod for the first week. The first time it is mowed, use a push mower to avoid any damage to the sod. After about 6 to 8 weeks you can begin a regular fertilizing program and you’re good to go!


Frequently asked questions

When is the best time to lay sod?
Early to mid fall is the best time to lay new sod because temperatures are cooler but the grass continues to grow.


How long does it take for new sod to take root?
Sod will begin to take root 10-14 days after laying, and should be fully rooted in 2 to 6 weeks.


When should I mow my lawn for the first time after laying sod?
Waiting at least 2-3 weeks is typical. Water it less the day before and be sure to mow it on the highest setting.