Preparing for Sod
Test the Soil
Before buying sod, it is helpful to test the pH and moisture of your soil. This can be done using a moisture meter and a pH tester. Well aerated soil should have a pH between 6 and 7.5.
Prepare the Soil
Use a rototiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Depending on the test results of your pH test, this is a great time to till in any fertilizer or lime your soil may need. Once you have finished rototilling the soil, remove any clumps of organic matter, such as old lumps of grass. Then, level the soil to one inch below the surrounding surface, such as paved areas like sidewalks or driveways.
Measure the prepared area so you know how much sod you will need to purchase. Keep in mind you may need a few extra pieces to fit around corners. You will want to figure out how much sod you need in square feet. A simple formula to use for this is length (in feet) x width (in feet) = area in square feet.
Laying the Sod
Laying the Sod
Once you have your sod, start along an edge and lay one whole section of sod down at a time. Lay the sod down end to end, making sure not to leave any gaps. You want the edges to be tight but not to overlap one another. Once you get to the second row, cut a roll of sod in half and stagger it with the previous row. You want to stagger the joints between the sod rolls like you would when laying down bricks.
Filling in the Edges
As you lay the sod, remember to pat it down so there are not any air pockets. Ensure all the sod is flattened, laying tightly end to end, and that no patches of soil are exposed. If necessary, use smaller pieces of sod to fill any gaps in your lawn. Be careful about laying tiny pieces of sod on the edges of your lawn as they may shrink and die.
Make sure you remember to cut the sod around any edges or obstacles in the lawn, such as irrigation heads and other protrusions. Fill in the seams with potting soil. Then, use a roller to ensure solid contact between the sod and the soil beneath. Lastly, water your sod until the soil is soaked.
Maintaining the Sod
During the first week, water your sod three times a day. Cut back on the watering if mushrooms start sprouting. After that, taper off to only watering the sod twice a week. Depending on the weather, adjust watering as necessary. If it is rainy, water the sod less. If it is hot and dry out, consider watering the sod more often.
For best results with your sod, fertilize it once a month after installation. This will help keep your lawn healthy and growing. For fertilizer, use one that follows the soil test recommendations, or a starter fertilizer. This will help replenish any nutrients lost from consistent watering. If you're not sure which fertilizer to use, talk to your local garden center about what fertilizer they recommend.
Until your new sod is firmly established, avoid heavy use such as frequent activity on the new sod or driving heavy machinery over it. For mowing, wait at least a week-and-a-half, or until your sod is 3.5 inches to 4 inches tall before mowing your lawn. That's it! Enjoy your fresh, green grass and a job well done!