Sod Installation 101
A Step by Step Guide to Laying Sod
Moisten the soil in the prepared area right before you begin laying the sod. Start by finding the straightest edge and unrolling the sod to create the first row. Press the ends and edges of the pieces together as you lay the rows so that you eliminate gaps and overlaps without stretching. Cut and trim corners as necessary.
Tip: If the weather is hot on the day of your project, stack the unlaid sod in a shady area and cover it with moist burlap to prevent it from drying out while you work or until it’s cool enough in the day to begin the installation process.
Continue laying the whole pieces one at a time, positioning them end to end against the edge of the previous row and staggering the joints similarly to how a brick wall is arranged. Avoid walking on the turf while you work, and smooth any wrinkles as you go. As you lay each piece, pat it gently into place to get rid of any air pockets.
Avoid arranging small pieces of sod at the edges of the new lawn, where there’s a greater chance that they’ll dry out. Lay them in the middle of the area before scattering sandy loam into the joints to fill in any gaps.
Begin watering your new lawn within 30 minutes of laying it. Water it well by saturating at least an inch of soil below the sod.
Water every day for the first week to keep it moist while it becomes established. Starting in the second week, water every other day to encourage deep rooting. By the third week, water twice a week. Beginning in the fourth week, make sure the sod receives one inch of water every week by rainfall or supplemental irrigation.
Once the sod grows 3 inches high and at least 10 days have passed, you can begin mowing the grass. Use a walk-behind mower with a bag to catch the clippings.
Fertilize the grass with a starter fertilizer after it’s been growing for four weeks.
Failing to choose sod that grows well in their area is one of the many mistakes that homeowners make when they DIY. For example, if you have a sun-loving sod that you plant in a shady yard, you’re setting your lawn up for failure from the beginning. Other common mistakes include the following:
Not preparing the soil properly. Without the right pH balance, nutrient levels and cultivation processes, you risk failure. Once the grass starts growing, there’s not much you can do to improve the soil.
Overlapping the pieces. Many homeowners overlap sod pieces without realizing that this creates an uneven lawn.
Failing to pat the sod down. All areas of your sod should have direct contact with the soil so that the sod grows deep enough roots.
Failing to maintain the sod properly. Water immediately, and then regularly thereafter to give it the moisture it needs to grow strong and healthy.
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