How to Lay Sod
Step – By – Step
The quickest way to convert a piece of bare ground into a lush lawn is to lay down sod. These pregrown rolls of grass are not only easy to install, they also look good instantly and protect the soil from being washed away by rain. Autumn is an excellent time to lay sod, since the grass will have a month or so to take hold before winter’s cold halts growth for the season.
Sod is sold in strips 20” wide x 40” long. Because these strips dry out quickly, you should pick them up or arrange for delivery as near as possible to the day you are going to lay them. In hot weather you’ll have to get them down within a day, in cool weather within two or three days. Keep any stored sod strips damp but not saturated.
The strips will be less likely to dry out as you work if you tackle the project on a cool, cloudy day. Before you begin, however, check the moisture level of the site. The soil should be just moist enough to crumble in your hand with slight pressure. If it is too wet, wait for it to dry a bit; if it is too dry sprinkle it thoroughly and start the job the next day.
Preparing the Ground
Do not expect sod strips simply dropped on top of the ground to grow; you have to prepare the site first. If the soil is covered with heavy weed growth or existing lawn, strip it off with either a shovel or a sod stripper to make subsequent rototilling easier.
Before tilling, broadcast any lime or sulfur needed to adjust the soil pH, then spread a three-inch layer of organic material such as rotted manure, compost, dampened peat moss or sprent mushroom soil. Organic matter will help make a clay soil porous and will help sandy soil retain water.
Rototill the patch first lengthwise and then crosswise to loosen the soil to a depth of six inches. Do not overtill. Your objective is to turn the soil into pea-size granules, not dust. Rake the surface until it appears to be smooth, discarding any rocks and other debris. Finally spread Scott’s Starter Fertilizer on the surface at a rate of 4 lbs. per 100 sq. ft
Laying the First Row
The first row of sod should be placed along a straight line. If you can, use your driveway or a path as a guide. Otherwise use a string pulled taut between two stakes.
Unroll each sod strip, taking care to avoid tearing it and press it firmly into position. Sod will shrink slightly after it has been laid, so don’t stretch it as you put it down – especially where edges meet. Don’t let it buckle, either. If you are worried about the strips drying out as you work, simply sprinkle each one with the hose once it’s laid.