Sod Installation: Step-by-Step Guide

Sod installation is a landscaping task that homeowners can perform themselves if they are up to the challenge. Preparation should begin a few weeks before you are ready to install the new sod. The soil will need to be prepped (view and/or download: soil preparation guide), and of course you will have to order and schedule delivery of your fresh sod.

Once your yard and soil is prepped and ready for new sod, follow these steps for a successful installation. 

1. Water to dampen the bare soil. 

2. Start laying sod immediately after delivery 

  • Store your sod in the shade as you lay it. If you don’t have a tree or building that creates shade in your yard, then consider setting up some temporary shade, like a tent or canopy. 

3. Begin installing sod along the longest straight line, such as a driveway or sidewalk. 

  • Push edges and ends against each other tightly, avoiding gaps or overlaps.
  • Stagger the end joints from one row to the next in a brick-like pattern.
  • Use a large sharp knife to trim corners, if needed. 
  • On slopes, place sod across (perpendicular) to the slope, not vertical with the slope. 

4. Water

  • To ensure success, water the sod during the installation. 

5. Use a sod roller

  • After installing sod, roll the entire area with a sod roller to improve sod-to-soil contact and to remove air pockets. 

6. Water daily

  • Water daily, or more often on hot days, keeping sod moist until it is firmly rooted (about two weeks during the growing season).
  • Lift a piece of sod here and there to confirm that you are watering enough to wet the original soil below the sod.
  • Do not saturate the soil deeper than 2”, and do not allow water to move off site.

7. Watering after rooting-in period

  • After the rooting-in period, begin less frequent and deeper watering.
  • Water to supplement rainfall shortages only.
  • Avoid fixed-timer irrigation settings.
  • Lawns perform best when they receive approximately one inch of water per week.
  • If one or more inches of rainfall occur in a week, additional irrigation is not necessary.

8. Monitor weather conditions

  • Weather conditions dictate the amount and frequency of watering.
  • Be certain that your new lawn has enough moisture to survive hot, dry or windy periods.
  • Low humidity days in winter months may also necessitate supplemental watering.

9. Some areas need more water 

  • Water areas on mounds and berms and near buildings more often, where reflected heat dries the turf. 

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