A lush, vibrant lawn is the pride of any gardening enthusiast. There’s no denying that earning a beauty like that takes time, effort, money, and a lot of frustration from trial and error. Want to bypass all of that and get an “instant lawn” for cheap. You need to know how to lay sod! Laying sod over your lawn gives it that rich, pristine look that even careful tending cannot always gain.
There might be patchy growth or browned sections that will cause you grief. Learn how to lay grass sod, and you can just purchase and install a new look. Sod is a little expensive, but it’s a fair price to pay for the ready, luxuriant look. If you install it yourself, your cost will be even lower. While laying sod isn’t necessarily a strenuous job, it does take careful planning and execution.
You also need to stay diligent about the timing of each of the tasks you need to complete in the course of laying sod over your lawn. Luckily for you, I’ve had experience with laying sod quite a few times in my life. I’ve gained valuable insight from my experiences, and in this blog, I’ll share them all with you. Let’s get started!
Steps for Laying Sod
There are definite steps involved in laying sod over your lawn. I’d suggest getting some paper and pen and noting down the steps, so you know the sequence. Missing one or more steps could result in a dried-out turf of sod and the loss of hundreds of dollars.
Knowing how much time you’ll need to complete this adventure is essential. If you think you’re going to finish laying new sod over your garden in one sunny afternoon, I’ve got news for you. It will take much longer than that. Well, not as long as growing a lawn from scratch, obviously. But still considerably longer.
Before doing anything else, you need to get your soil tested. Whether you use a DIY kit or get it tested in a lab, this will easily take one or two weeks. After this, you’ll need to kill off the existing lawn, which will also take a couple of weeks. Then you need to prepare the soil- the work of a weekend.
After you’ve prepared the lawn, then you can lay sod. Two strong and healthy people can finish laying sod over a thousand square feet of the area within a weekend, so plan for that beforehand. Then it’ll take another few weeks for the sod to settle and become a part of your lawn. Let’s see a breakdown of all the necessary steps on how to lay sod.
1. Soil Testing
As I have mentioned before, soil testing is important. You’d want to know how the soil in your garden is doing. For the test, you’ll have to collect soil samples from quite a few locations around your garden, and this will give you an average idea of what your garden needs.
After you have the soil testing results in hand, you’ll know the shortcomings of the soil and what amendments you’re going to need for the sod to continue being healthy. This knowledge will come in handy when you’re preparing the soil in the next step.
2. Preparing the Ground
You start preparing the soil by getting rid of all the vegetation on it. Yes, that means using a herbicide or a manual method to kill off your existing lawn. Using a herbicide would take about two weeks to kill off the lawn. On the other hand, using a sod cutter (that you can rent) will take less time. After your lawn has died out, prepare the soil.
First, use a rototiller to aerate the lawn. You can either use a tiller or a cultivator, depending on your lawn’s size and soil type. At this point, add any fertilizers or soil amendments that you were advised to after the soil test. You should also level the lawn to slope away from the house’s foundation and towards any drainage hole. Rake it to get rid of clods, rocks, and plant roots.
After your lawn is prepared, that’s when you should measure your lawn and figure out how much sod you’re going to need. Talk to the sellers and decide what type of sod your lawn needs. Always plan to order a little more sod than you need to stay on the safe side.
Lastly, schedule to get your sod delivered on the dawn of the day you plan to lay it. Plan to start laying sod as soon as it gets delivered, so there’s less chance of it drying out.
3. Laying Sod
At this step, we’re going to learn the process of how to install new sod. Once you’ve had it delivered, you should start by laying sod along the longest straight stretch of your lawn. Whether your sod comes in squares or rolls, this strategy is the best.
Once this stretch is done, keep laying the sod like brick by staggering the edges. This way, the edges will not line up. This will reduce the chances of the sod drying out and make your lawn look natural. Don’t forget to cut the sod to make space for sprinklers. Continue laying sod along the edges, and gradually move towards the center of your lawn.
Use any extra sod you have left to fill up awkward nooks and crannies. It pays to have some topsoil handy, so you can level it under the sod if it seems to be sinking lower than the others. Once you’re done with laying sod, you can run a sod roller over it to get rid of air pockets and promote better root growth.
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4. Watering Sod
Once you’ve laid sod, now it’s time to nourish it. Water your new lawn extensively. It’s best that after laying sod, you run your sprinklers for at least an hour daily, so all the portions of your lawn get enough water. I’d suggest running the water for two hours if the weather is sweltering.
The water should penetrate to at least 2-3 inches under the sod. However, you can slightly pull up the sod layer and check that the soil under it is damp but not muddy, ensuring that you’re not overwatering. This means that the grass will be able to latch onto the soil and grow well. After your sod has settled, the watering schedule should gradually taper off.
5. Mowing Sod
When do you know you can start mowing the new sod? I suggest you wait till the grass is about three inches tall. Walk out to your lawn and try pulling up a section of the sod. If moderate pulling does not dislodge the sod from the soil, it’s suitable for mowing.
However, even at this point, the sod might be in a delicate growth stage. It would help if you used a light, walk-behind mower instead of a heavy riding mower. While you’re mowing, make sure to use sharp blades, and do not cut the grass too short.
6. Fertilizing Sod
I don’t think I need to tell you that all that irrigation will leach many nutrients from the soil. Ideally, it is time to add some fertilizer to your sod after the first mow, around 3-4 weeks after laying new sod. Throughout the growing season, it’s prudent to fertilize 3-4 times. It’s easy to overdo it, so try using a slow-release or timed-release fertilizer.
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Some Basic Sod Laying Tips
- Store sod in the shade. You can store it under a tree, the shade of a building, or under a canopy (temporary or otherwise). Don’t place sod rolls under a tarp or direct sunlight, as your new sod will get cooked from within the roll, and you’ll end up with a horrid lawn.
- Time the sod installment adequately based on the sort of grass you’re working with. You can install warm-season grass at any time of the year, but you should install cool-season grass in late summer or early fall.
- Butt sections of sod tightly against each other but do not overlap.
- Refrain from walking on the new turf for at least a week after installation.
- Do not wait till all the sod is laid down to start watering. Start twenty minutes after the first strip is laid down, and keep going as you lay sod.
- Water the sod that’s closer to the buildings more frequently, as the heat reflecting from the building can dry out sod faster.
- While maintaining your newly installed sod does follow some generalized rules. However, the practices can vary based on what species of grass you’re working with.
Now that you know how to lay sod in clear steps and even the tips to do so, I hope you can see how easy it will be. While you might feel intimidated by the extensive procedure, I assure you that it’s something you’ll enjoy doing, and the result will be a praiseworthy lawn. So what are you waiting for? Start planning to install sod on your lawn asap!