The Q&A Archives: planting sod

Question: I have very poor soil. I am planning on laying down new top soil then placing sod. I have very active children. Question #1 should I rototill the ground prior to laying the new soil? #2 How long do I keep the foot traffic off of the new sod?

Answer: It's important to prepare the soil prior to installing your sod; For best results, rototill or spade the area to a depth 4 to 6 inches. It is also best to bring in some additional soil and organic mixture, such as compost, to a depth of 3 to 4 inches to incorporate into the soil. Eliminate drainage problems by having the soil slope away from foundations, etc.

After rototilling, rake out the area and smooth the soil removing rocks, roots, and large clods. You can usually rent large landscape rakes and rollers from the local rental yard. Roll the area lightly with a lawn roller 1/3-1/2 full of water. This will firm the soil surface and reveal low areas that need more soil. Keep the grade 1/2"-1" inch below sidewalks or driveways. (The sod is about 1" thick). It is a good idea to rake again lightly after rolling.

Water the prepared area to settle soil and provide a moist base for turf. Moistening to a depth of 3-6 inches is recommended for most soils. However, consult with your local supplier regarding your specific soil needs.

Install your lawn immediately upon delivery. Begin watering lawn within 30 minutes of installation. Turf is a living plant that requires ground contact and moisture to survive.

Try to keep off the grass for at least a week. Your sod should be firmly rooted in 7-10 days. At that time you can mow the lawn and allow foot traffic.

Best wishes with your new lawn!

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