Answer: Laying sod is relatively easy. Here's How:
Remove the old lawn and/or weeds, if any exist. One way to accomplish this is by digging them out with a flat-bladed shovel (make sure you get the roots). Another method is to apply an herbicide, then rent a sod-cutter to remove roots and all.
Break up the compacted soil with a tiller. Tillers (also called rototillers) can be rented from your local Home Depot.
Spread a starter fertilizer over the now-loosened soil. This type of fertilizer is high in phosphorus, the middle number in the NPK sequence on a fertilizer bag.
Also spread a soil conditioner over the soil. "Soil conditioner" is often what it's called at the store, but if you have a good supply of compost at home, it will serve just as well as a soil amendment.
Again using the tiller, till the starter fertilizer and soil conditioner (or equivalent) into the soil. I know this seems like a lot of work, but good soil preparation is one key to success in laying sod to start new lawns.
Now rake the soil to begin to level it out, removing any rocks and debris that you find. To avoid problems with excess water-runoff, make sure that any site grading you do allows water to flow away from your house.
This step requires a roller. Rollers, like tillers, can be rented from your local rental center. Fill the roller's drum with water, then use the roller to finish leveling the soil.
Start laying your sod. Begin on the outer edges, unrolling a roll of sod on the far left-hand side, then another on the far right-hand side (or vice versa). After laying these 2 rolls of sod, work your way in towards the center with subsequent strips.
A single roll of sod may not be long enough to cover the whole length of the lawn. This means you'll have to lay separate rolls, end to end, pressing the ends firmly together so that they abut tightly, but without overlapping.
For the strips of sod in the adjacent row, make sure you stagger the ends of sod rolls, so that the seams don't line up. Think of it as a "brickwork" pattern.
If a strip of sod appears too low, "shim" it with topsoil to bring it up to the proper level.
When you're done laying sod, it's time to use the roller again. Push it over the sod to press it down firmly against the soil. This removes air pockets, promoting good contact with the soil, allowing your sod's roots to go to work immediately.
For a couple of weeks after laying sod, remember to water faithfully every day.
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