How to Lay Sod in 7 Easy Steps

Published Categorized as Sod & Seed

You want a fantastic lawn. There are no lies about that, but it will cost you. The good thing is that it’s only a few bucks, and you have a lush lawn. Nonetheless, I want to take you through a step-by-step guide on how to lay sod wherever you are, whatever the type of soil or climate.

To lay sod, you prepare the soil, apply the right fertilizer, lay the sod rolls, water regularly for 7 days, mow, and fertilize accordingly to have a thick green lawn.

To start us off, let’s answer two common questions that many people ask. 

How Long Do I Have to Stay Off of New Sod?

You might want to wait two weeks before you step on new sod because if you walk on it within 14 days of installation, you will break the weak and shallow roots.

Even when watering the sod, using a hose or a pump to spray the water to all edges without necessarily stepping on the sod is advisable.

How Long Should I Keep My Dog Off New Sod?

Generally, you will give your new sod the best chance of thriving by keeping your dog off the sod for at least 60 days. Dog pee, poo, and scratches will ostensibly make it hard for your new sod to thrive.

Dog urine is bad for grass because it contains high amounts of nitrogen, which burns the grass quickly. The good thing is you can fix dog urine problem.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Lay Sod

Now, look at the various steps to lay sod easily and quickly, even if you’ve never done so successfully. 

Step 1. Prepare Your Soil

Use a commercial-grade SuperHandy Mini Tiller Cultivator Rototiller (pictured) to loosen the soil to a 6–8 inches depth. Before adding anything to the soil, ensure you’ve beaten the debris to level the ground. Spread the finished compost over 2 inches once you’ve reached the desired level of fine soil. 

Just ensure there is not much gravel, debris, or weeds on the soil.

Step 2. Apply Starter Fertilizer

Even if the soil is fertile, you wouldn’t want to risk installing your sod on “barren” soil. To be safe, apply the appropriate starter fertilizer. If needed, you can also add lime to the fertilizer.

While you can use your hands to spread the fertilizer, a fertilizer spreader will do an excellent job ensuring an even fertilizer application.

NB. Adding lime to the soil before you install sod helps boost the soil’s pH.

Related: Can You Lay Sod Over Straw?

Step 3. Lay The Sod’s First Row

How to lay sod

Now is the time to lay your new sod, starting from the most prolonged and furthest edge in your yard. I’d suggest you start from the fence as you spread to other parts. Unroll the first sod roll along the wall. 

It’s prudent to keep off the sod while you are laying it. Rake out any footprints behind you as you install the sod. Flatten any wrinkles that may be on the sod and level valleys that may be on the soil.

Ensure you do not leave any air pockets by patting and tamping down the sod, so it lies flat against the soil underneath. 

Step 4. Install Additional Sod Rows

You are done with laying the first row of sod. Here is where laying new sod gets tricky, yet fun, for experts. Using a knife, cut off a part of the next piece of sod to install (usually a half). The aim is to stagger the short, precise seams just as you would when laying bricks.

As you continue laying sod, keep butting some sections of the turf against each other but do not overlap them.

The best thing about laying sod using this version is it will not be easy to see the seams. Besides, it will be hard for the sod edges to dry up, unlike if you used a different style of laying sod.

If you have an in-ground sprinkler, use the knife to cut holes in the sod for the nozzle to sprinkle your sod. Trim the edges of the sod so that it doesn’t overlap with the pavement or driveway.

Also read: Can You Lay Sod Over Concrete?

Step 5. Water Your New Sod

Remember the last thing you did in the previous step? Yes, the sod holes you made. It is still okay if you didn’t cut the holes. With your sprinkler, water your newly-laid sod at least twice daily, starting 45 minutes after installation

Remember that insufficient water is one of the main reasons a sod turns brown a few days after installation, so you might want to keep that in mind. Therefore, you may want to ensure you give your sod enough water.

Because much water evaporates during the day’s scorching heat, it is advisable to water the sod in the mornings and early evenings.

It is not a good idea to water your sod late at night because that will make the sod “go to bed” wet, which will encourage fungal diseases. You should continue to water your sod daily for at least seven days but cut the amount and the frequency of watering going forward, as the chart above shows.

Increase the amount of water during the summer so that your lawn remains green despite the summer heat.

Step 6. The Time to Mow New Sod

You can mow new sod within 12-14 days of installation without the fear of damaging the roots. However, you can use a tractor after three weeks when the sod has developed a solid root system. 

During the initial mowing, use a push lawnmower. Otherwise, I prefer the Husqvarna Automower Robotic Lawn Mower because it is lightweight. Besides, you do not need to be present for this mower to do its work. 

You should keep your lawn slightly higher during the summer to encourage deep rooting. Otherwise, for better results, aim to cut off a third of the grass’s length whenever you mow, and always let it be sharp.

Step 7. Fertilizing New Sod

The right time to fertilize new sod is 30 days after installation. It is advisable to apply slow-release organic fertilizer (pictured above) that is rich in phosphorus. Do not make the mistake of applying nitrogen-rich fertilizer because it will burn your new sod. 

To Wrap Up

These are the seven steps to laying sod like a pro. But that is not all. As mentioned at the beginning, this article helps you answer ten additional questions about how to lay sod over different matters or substances.

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By Wycliffe Magara

Hi, my name’s Wycliffe Magara, a professional landscaper, journalist, published author, photographer, and lawn attendant. Apart from this site, I also own LawnAffection, Grasstology, and TheScholarshipTipster. I specialize in creating informational content to help you grow a Lifelong Lush Lawn and find the ideal scholarship opportunities no one ever talks about.