Soil Preparation: Step-by-Step Guide

How to prepare
soil for sod

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 new sod. The first step to getting ready for sod installation is to prepare your soil. Follow our step-by-step guide to get your soil ready. 

Step 1: Clear the Site

  • Clear the site of any and all debris, including rocks and sticks. 

Step 2: Rough Grade

  • Rough grade is the process of making a level or slope base for projects like turf establishment. 
  • Rough grade the entire area to prevent drainage issues. 
  • Always slope away from buildings. 
rake clearing soil of rocks and sticks in preparation for new sod

Step 3: Till the Soil

  • Initial tilling of at least of at least four to six inches is recommended.
  • This should be done before adding any topsoil and will allow for adequate water movement.

Step 4: Add Topsoil

  • Add topsoil if your soil lacks nutrients (see step 5).
  • Your soil should be a minimum of four inches in depth.

Step 5: Test the Soil

soil testing bags from local extension office

Step 6: Apply Starter Fertilizer

  • Apply a starter fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 13-13-13, and lime to the soil per soil test recommendations.
  • Till fertilizer into the soil before laying sod.

Step 7: Finish Grade

  • Finish grade the entire site, making sure to maintain uniform drainage of rainwater. 

Step 8: Roll the Area

  • Roll the area with a lawn roller to firm and settle the soil on the surface. 
  • Fill in low spots as they appear. 

Step 9: Ready for Sod

  • The site is now ready for turfgrass sod. Remember to water the sod as you lay it. Sod will wilt quickly on hot days. 

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