Many homeowners take pride in a lush green, healthy lawn that stands out and draws the eye. However, improper environmental and cultural practices can kill the entire lawn or sections of it, thus reducing its appeal and requiring immediate attention. Consider laying sod over the area instead of planting grass seed. Although expensive, sod provides instant gratification in the form of a lush lawn as soon as you lay it. Prepare the site before laying your sod and care for it so your lawn continues to be the best on the block.
Things You'll Need
- Sod cutter
- Soil testing kit
- Lime or sulfur
- Topsoil (optional)
Cut the old sod with a sod cutter to remove it from the soil. Insert the blade in the grass and push it down so it cut the roots of the sod. Collect the damaged sod in a tarp and discard.
Loosen 4 to 6 inches of soil with a rototiller to break compacted mounds of dirt into smaller pieces. Test the existing pH of the soil to ensure it falls between 6.0 and 7.0., the ideal range for most turfgrasses. Spread limestone to increase soil pH or sulfur to decrease it.
Add 2 inches of organic matter such as compost or peat moss over the soil and till the entire area so the amendments mix well.
Rake the soil to level the soil. Discard stones, plant debris or roots that are exposed while raking, and add topsoil to fill out any depressions or holes in the soil so it is smooth. Run a water roller half filled with water over the soil to compact the surface.
Put a roll of sod against the longest, flattest part of the yard or garden, flush against the hardscaping such as a walkway or pathway and unroll it. Place the end of another roll of sod flush against the corner of the previous roll if it falls short, and begin to unroll it slowly until you reach the end of the row, forming a straight line.
Cut the excess sod with a sharp knife and begin to roll it next to the first row so you form another row over the soil. Stagger the strips of sod for a natural appearance. Make sure the edges of adjacent rolls of sod are flush with one another. Cut sod to the desired shape so it fits around small sections of the yard.
Run the water roller half filled with water over the newly sodded area again so it gently presses the roots against the soil, thus establishing good roots-to-soil contact. The roller also removes trapped air between the sod and the soil. Water the sod regularly until established.
Tips & Warnings
- Wear boots when using a sod cutter to prevent injury to your feet.
- When laying sod, start from the perimeter of the yard and work your way to the center.
- University of Minnesota Extension; Seeding and Sodding Home Lawns; R. Mugaas, et al.; 2009
- University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension; Installing and Maintaining a Sod Lawn; John Roberts; 2001
- University of Rhode Island Fact Sheet: Installing a Sod Lawn
- This Old House; How to Lay Sod; Ashley Womble
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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