How to Replace Sod in a Lawn

Picture-perfect grass comes quickly when you lay sod.
Picture-perfect grass comes quickly when you lay sod. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

A sea of perfect green grass is every homeowner's dream but sometimes disease or pests create bare patches or holes. Repairing these eyesores should start with identifying the cause, rectifying it and then proceeding with the replacement process. Lawns can die back not only because of pests and fungus but also due to watering issues, pH and soil nutrient deficiencies, overuse and exposure. Reseeding is a fairly straight forward way of replacing the missing or dead sod but it takes time for the grass to grow in properly. Sod is the quickest way to replace small or large patches of grass or even lay an entire lawn.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test kit
  • Shovel
  • Lime or sulfur
  • Sand
  • Compost
  • Rake
  • Soil knife
  • Sod
  • Board
  • Water

Use a soil test kit to identify if the pH is right for your sod or if there are proper nutrients in the soil. The packaging can help you read the test or you can enlist the help of a nursery professional or home and garden specialist to assess the results.

Cut a square around the affected area and then use the edge of the shovel to pry it out. You can use a chipping motion to shave off the sod. Remove 4 inches of soil where the sod was.

Amend the soil if necessary. The addition of lime will raise the pH of the soil and sulfur will lower it. Average pH for grasses is usually slightly acidic and registers about 6.5 on the soil test. The correct amount of amendment will depend on the size of the site but your packaging should give good instructions for you to follow. Work in the amendment with your shovel.

Add a 2-inch layer of compost and 1 inch of sand. Work this into the amended soil to add nutrients and texture for good drainage. Rake the area smooth and pull out any roots, stumps or rocks. Make the area even and free of debris.

Cut your new sod to fit the square hole. You may have to trim with the soil knife to make it fit perfectly. Lay the sod in the hole and place a board over it. Walk on the board to make certain the roots on the sod are in contact with the soil.

Water the new sod until the soil is saturated. You need to keep the soil and sod moist but not flooded so water daily in warm weather. Do not let the sod dry out and check it frequently during the day to assess the moisture level. Sod installed in spring or fall needs 1 inch of water every two or three days to maintain moisture levels.

Restrict traffic on the area for two weeks. Tug on the patch to make certain it is rooted. When it has rooted it is safe to mow the area. Mow diagonally across the seams where the patch joins the old grass. This will prevent it from lifting up.

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