How can I Lay Sod?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Planting sod is a way to create an expanse of lush green lawn in a very short period of time. Sod is living grass which comes in large strips that are designed to be unrolled over specially prepared ground. The grass will take root and grow like a normal lawn, and should be irrigated and mowed regularly. Plan to set aside at least one day for preparation of the soil before accepting delivery of the sod. Late spring and early summer is the best time to lay sod, because this time of year will promote healthy growth.

A trowel may be used when spreading sod.
A trowel may be used when spreading sod.

To lay sod, start by preparing the soil where the sod is going to be planted. Remove weeds and grasses before tilling the earth to break up the soil. Once the soil has been broken up, add a soil conditioner like compost or mulch along with fertilizer and till it again to distribute everything evenly. When this is finished, rake the soil to remove chunks of material, and then water it thoroughly. You may also want to consider installing an irrigation system before you lay sod to keep the sod lawn watered and healthy.

Once your soil is prepared, you can lay sod. Arrange delivery for a day when you will be home, and plan on installing the sod within half an hour of delivery. Because sod is made from living grass, it will die quickly if not cared for properly. Start by watering the soil again so that it is moist, and lay sod strips along the outside edges of the area your are planting. It is best to start with the outside because sod on the edges of the lawn is most likely to die, so you want whole strips rather than cut sod.

Lay sod over the prepared ground, adding soil underneath if the sod does not lie evenly, and working slowly towards the middle of the sod lawn. Make sure that strips abut with each other, but are not overlapping, and water the sod lightly as you go to keep it moist. As you lay sod in areas where it needs to be shaped, you can cut it with a sharp knife or trowel. Cutting sod should be undertaken with care, as sod is difficult to patch after a cutting job has been messed up.

When you are done, an expanse of evenly laid green sod will lie before you. There should be no rumples or cracks in the lawn. At this point, use a roller to press the sod down into the prepared soil, getting air pockets out and allowing the roots of the sod to make a connection with the ground. Within half an hour, water the sod lawn thoroughly. These steps are very important if you want to lay sod properly: do not skip them.

During the first few weeks, keep your new sod lawn moist to encourage growth. Within three weeks the lawn should be rooted enough to mow. Start out mowing the lawn high, gradually decreasing the height of the grass each time that you mow. As the sod lawn takes root, you can decrease the watering, giving the sod enough water to stay healthy and green but not enough to cause waterlogging.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


It is very important not to walk on the sod until it has been there for a few weeks and taken root - and don't let your dogs play on it! This can cause it to die before it really gets a chance to take root.

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