Laying sod is a great way to achieve a beautiful, green lawn. A sod project is not for the faint of heart, though! It requires careful planning and execution. If you skip a step or don’t carefully prepare, you risk wasting your time and money and having your sod fail to thrive.
Follow these five steps for laying sod to make sure that you get the most out of your investment.
- Test your soil. Before you begin, it is important to know how your soil stacks up. If your soil is depleted or lacking in any key nutrients, laying sod won’t accomplish much–it will just dry out or fail to thrive. There are many landscaping companies and garden centers that can test the soil for you, or you also send a sample into a national company. Additionally, many universities have soil testing services available. When you get your results back, you can determine what nutrients are missing from your soil. It is important to add those nutrients in for best results (and we’ll have more on this later). Keep in mind that slightly acidic soil is best for sod. Aim for a pH level between 6.5 and 7.
- Measure the area. Before you buy your sod, it’s important to know how much you will need. Measure your yard, taking into account curved areas and garden beds that won’t need sod. The old adage is measure twice and cut once, and that rings true in this case. Sod can get pricey, so make sure you’ve calculated correctly.
- Prep the soil and sod. Get your yard ready for the sod by preparing the soil. You will know just what nutrients to add, thanks to that soil test! If you don’t own a rototiller, you can rent one for the day or weekend. Till the area, loosening up the top six to eight inches of soil, and add in organic compost, fertilizer, lime and any nutrients that you found were lacking. Once the soil is properly tilled and nutrients have been added, rake the soil to even it out. Consider grading the edges around the sidewalk and driveway at a downward angle since exposed edges are prone to dry out or get chopped off with the lawnmower. Cut the sod from the underside as it’s much easier to get a clean line. Measure curves by using rope or a garden hose, then cut out curves using a lawn edger and sod or carpet knife.
- Lay the sod. Carrying sod can be hard on your body, so remember to lift with your legs, and carry the sod close to your body. Having a helper can take you further faster! There are several views on the best way to lay sod. One way is to outline the perimeter of your yard first, and then fill in the sod towards the center, using smaller pieces for the middle. Alternatively, you can start with the straightest edge of your lawn, and lay down lines beside one another across your yard. Keep edges tight, remembering that gaps create the an environment for the soil to dry out. Rake over footprints and press the sod firmly down so there are no gaps. Fill in any gaps in the seams with topsoil and brush it evenly.
- Maintain your new sod. After you’ve laid the sod, you’re not finished! In order to properly grow and thrive, the sod should be watered daily. Try not to walk across your fresh sod or you risk damaging it. After three to four weeks, you can mow your grass, aiming to cut only the top third of the grass. Following this trim, it is a good idea to fertilize your sod again, making sure that you are replacing any lost nutrients.
As with any major yard project, laying sod can be time consuming and the steps can be challenging. If you get stuck or would rather use your weekends for other projects–or for relaxing–call in the experts at Heffner, and we will take care of your sod project for you. We can do everything from start to finish, or help you through any steps along the way. Call us to find out how we can help you achieve the beautiful, green, lush grass you’ve always wanted!