How to Lay Sod in 10 Steps

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What You'll Need
Garden fork, spade, or rotovator
Garden rake
Pre-turf fertilizer
Lightweight lawn mower

Planting sod correctly is essential, especially as your new lawn is the centerpiece of your exterior and can increase the overall curb appeal of your home. The following article explains how to lay sod in just 10 easy steps.

Step 1 – Prepare

Prepare your soil first to encourage a fast, deep rooting process. Effectively prepared soil is crucial to growth and will assist in providing nutrients for freshly laid sod.

Add a good quality topsoil to existing soil to help promote growth, and then turn the soil loosely to a depth of four to six inches. This can be done with a garden fork or spade although a rotovator will provide a more consistent depth and is ideal for working in any topsoil you have added yourself.

Step 2 – Clear Debris

Make sure the area to be covered is free from sticks, stones, weeds, and heavily clogged soil. A rake will make it much easier to find anything hiding in the soil. Pull all debris you do find back to one corner of the prepared area so you can easily dispose of it.

Step 3 – Compact the Ground

Once the soil is cleared, lightly compact it by firmly walking over the entire area. Then repeat the process at a perpendicular angle to further compact the ground.

Step 4 – Till the Soil

Using the garden rake again, lightly drag it through the soil to produce a fine till. Visually inspect the entire area once you're done to make sure that the surface is level.

Step 5 – Water the Prepared Surface

Watering the grass

Heavily water the prepared surface at least 36 hours before laying sod. This will provide sufficient moisture to help the sod root quickly and help the prepared soil to settle.

Step 6 – Apply a Fertilizer

Pre-turf fertilizer provides many essential nutrients that will support a solid rooting, so apply a liberal spread immediately before laying sod.

Step 7 – Lay the Sod

Begin laying sod down a straight edge of the prepared area, and continue until a single row is complete. Make sure that individual strips of sod are closely butted together, but do not allow them to overlap.

Once the first row is finished, start the second row with a half cut before working down alongside the first row. This type of brickwork pattern promotes stronger bonding as the sod roots into the soil. Finish the second row with the other half cut of sod.

Start the third row with a full cut of sod again, and repeat this pattern until you have covered the entire prepared area.

Step 8 – Tamper the Edges

Hold the rake vertically and firmly push down on all joining edges of sod. Never use a roller for this, and don’t be tempted to stretch sod by tugging it. If you are concerned about any gaps, simply fill them with a little topsoil and tamp down.

Step 9 – Water Thoroughly

Water your sod as soon as it is laid, giving it a thorough soaking for the next five to seven days until firm rooting is established. Be sure to water early in the morning or in the cooler part of the evening. Watering sod during the hottest part of the day can cause grass to burn due to the magnification of light rays through the water itself.

Step 10 – Cut

A lawn mower

Cut the sod about a week after laying with a lightweight mower, as early cutting helps to ward off disease. However, never cut off more than 1/3 of length in any one cut. The first few cuts should just "top" the lawn. Continue to use a lightweight mower until the sods have completely bedded in. You may also feed the lawn any time after the first cut has taken place.