The Q&A Archives: Sod

Question: What are the steps I need to take to lay down sod?

Answer: Whether you're seeding or sodding a new lawn, you'll want to prepare the soil by rototilling and removing weeds, then raking it level. There should be a slight slope away from any buildings (to direct runoff away from foundations). If you used an herbicide, check the label to see how long you must wait before seeding or sodding the area. It takes some time for the chemicals to break down in the presence of air and sunlight. When the correct amount of waiting time has passed you'll be ready to install your new sod.

Before you begin, apply a starter fertilizer that's high in phosphorus (such as a 2-1-1 or 1-1-1 ratio). Then lightly water the area where you will be installing the sod. Be prepared to begin work when your order is delivered. Sod can go bad quickly, especially if it begins to heat up or dry out. Have the pallets delivered to a shady spot. If you can't start right away, unroll the sod and keep it moist.

Lay sod over one section of lawn at a time. Begin by laying full strips along the outside edge (such as the sidewalk) of the area you plan to sod. Starting with a straight row will reduce the amount of cutting and fitting you'll do later. Next, work toward the opposite edge of lawn, usually the edge by your house. Use a sharp blade to cut as required. Make your last row a full-width strip, if possible. If you have contoured or irregular borders, lay the strips so that they overlap the border; trim away the excess later with a sharp knife or sharpened mason's trowel. The trowel is also handy for leveling minor irregularities in the soil. Again, try to install all of the sod the day it is delivered. If you have sod left over, unroll it in a shady spot, water it lightly, and use it the next day. If you do sod your lawn in sections, you will need to lay sod against part of the existing lawn. You may find it helpful to use twine and stakes to mark the dividing line. Use the twine as a guide to cut a straight line in the existing turf with a manual or power edger. Lay sod to this edge and try to make a tight, unobtrusive seam. If you're installing sod on a slope, start laying the sod at the lowest point. Stake each piece in three places to prevent slippage. Stakes should be equally spaced and set in from the sod strip's edges by at least 6 to 8 inches.

After installing the sod, firm it by rolling with a one-third full roller. If the roller is too heavy, it could cause the sod to slip. In hot weather, lightly watering the sod prior to rolling will also help prevent slippage. Follow rolling immediately with a thorough soaking--to a depth of 6 - 8 inches. It is extremely vital to water your new lawn thoroughly. To insure that your new sod lawn does not dry out and die, it should be kept constantly moist during the first week to 10 days after installation. Once lawn is established, water in a normal manner. Best wishes with your new lawn!

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