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How To Lay Down Sod: Tips For Laying Sod

Anthony enjoys spending time in the workshop, kitchen, garden, and out fishing. Many of his DIY projects are featured in his yard.

Our freshly mowed lawn

Our freshly mowed lawn

Lay Down Sod for an Instantly Green Lawn

Laying down sod is the fastest and most efficient way to create a new lawn, instantly transforming a barren patch of dirt into a lush green grass. Laying down sod is also useful for filling in patchy areas of an established lawn, and can be very effective for controlling erosion.

Installing a new lawn with quality sod can be an expensive investment, and laying down sod takes more preparation than simply dropping mats of grass on to the ground. Taking a little extra time to prepare the soil, properly laying down the pieces of sod and then correctly caring for the new grass will significantly increase the survival rate of newly planted sod and preserve your investment.

We live in the northeast, where spring and early fall are best times for laying down a carpet of sod. Depending on where you live, you might need to plant a little earlier in the year, or perhaps a bit later to avoid the heat of summer. Here are a more few tips on how to lay down sod successfully for a new green lawn.

How to Lay Down Sod

Buy Your Lawn Sod from a Local Turf Farm

Local turf farms specialize in the varieties of grasses that are best suited for your local growing conditions. Most lawns require large quantities of sod, and many turf farms offer delivery options. Schedule the delivery to minimize the storage time before planting, and store the sod out of any direct sun to prevent it from drying out.

Prepare the Soil

A good lawn needs good soil and this is especially important when laying down sod. Spread a layer of quality topsoil, raking it out to an even layer at least three inches deep (six inches is better). Use a soil test to measure the PH level of the topsoil, and then amendment the soil as necessary. Add a slow release fertilizer, tilling it into the topsoil while raking out any rocks and stones.

Dampen the raked topsoil with a light spray of water. Do not over water the topsoil, and avoid creating puddles or turning the top layer of dirt into mud. A very light spraying of water will increase the contact between soil and the new lawn sod.

Lay Down the Sod

Lay out the sod in straight rows (green side up!). Butt the edge of one section of sod right up against the next section, eliminating any gaps between the pieces of sod. Gaps between the pieces of lawn sod will accelerate evaporation, drying out the edges and potentially killing the sod.

Keep the rows of lawn sod as straight as possible, and overlap any obstructions such as curving walkways or planter beds. Use a sharp utility knife equipped with a razor blade to cut through the sod for fitting around curves, trees and other obstructions. Press the cut edges firmly against the soil, increasing the contact between the sod and the soil.

Position the next row of sod directly against the first row, butting the sides of the sections tightly against each other to eliminate gaps and preventing the edges of the lawn sod from drying out. Stagger the seams of sod sections in adjoining rows, again to minimize exposure of the edges. Continue laying out the sod, cutting around obstacles until the yard is covered completely with the new sod lawn.

Roll Out the Sod

Use a lawn roller, essentially a water-filled drum, to roll out the newly laid sod lawn. Lawn rollers are available for rent from many home centers and tool rental centers.

Rolling the sod increases the contact between the sod roots and the topsoil, and reduces air pockets which can dry out the sections of lawn sod.

Watering Your New Sod Lawn

Water the new lawn deeply and thoroughly to prevent the new sod from drying out. Water the sod lawn every day for the first weeks to encourage new root growth, and then as often as necessary for the first month to keep the new sod lawn from drying out.

Keep off the newly planted lawn sod as much as possible during the first month to allow the root system to become firmly established. Wait until after the first month to mowing the lawn, using a sharpened blade and setting the blade as high as possible.

How To Lay Down Sod

How To Kill Nutsedge

Nutsedge is invasive and hard to eliminate

Nutsedge is invasive and hard to eliminate

Rid Your Lawn of this Invasive Weed

Product Review: Ortho Nutsedge Weed KillerNutsedge is perennial grass-like plant that spreads by seed or through underground rhizomes and tubers. Its three-side stalk easily identifies nutsedge as a member of the sedge family. Pluck a stalk from the ground and gently roll it between your thumb and forefinger. If the plant is a nutsedge, you will feel the triangular shape of the stalk.

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Once established in a lawn, nutsedge spreads quickly and aggressively during the warm summer months, and is very difficult to control. Within a few days of mowing the lawn, the bright yellow-green nutsedge leaves grow above the rest of the grasses. As the cold weather approaches, leaf growth slows and the nutsedge seems to disappear among the blades of turf grass. But it is still there, going dormant for the winter and getting ready to burst forth in greater numbers in the following spring.

Nutsedge plant

Nutsedge plant

There are two types of nutsedge found commonly in lawns and garden beds throughout North America: Yellow Nutsedge and Purple nutsedge. The two plants closely resemble each other and though I think the invader in my front yard is the Yellow Nutsedge variety, I'm not really sure. It doesn't really matter if it's yellow or purple; it was spreading quickly and I wanted it gone.

There are several products available that claim to kill nutsedge. I tried a couple of different general lawn care products that target weeds, with different levels of success. However, the nutsedge seemed too tough for the general-purpose weed killer that targets the pest plant but leaves the grass alone.

Then, a colleague recommended Ortho Nutsedge Killer for Lawns so I ordered a couple of bottles. This product comes premixed in a small spray bottle and applying the Nutsedge Killer is as easy as spraying the offending plant with the lethal liquid. Coverage is somewhat spotty, and I used about a bottle and a half to spray about a ten-square foot area plus hitting several isolated little nutsedge islands that popped up here and there around the lawn.

The impact was almost immediate and within 48-hours, the nutsedge was already turning brown and starting to wilt.

This isn't a guarantee that Ortho Nutsedge Killer will work for you but if you are trying to control this botanical pest, buying a bottle or two seems like a small risk. I'm sure that I'll need to buy more in the future, because nutsedge is a tough perennial and there are still lots of little tubers just beneath the surface that are waiting for their turn to sprout. If too many do, they'll get hit with a dose of Ortho Nutsedge Killer.

Ortho Max Nutsedge Killer


© 2011 Anthony Altorenna

Tell Us About Your Experience with Laying Down Lawn Sod

Gardener Don on January 12, 2013:

Our winters have finally finished off our 30 year old lawn, & I expect this spring I'll be laying down a new one - with sod. Thanks for some excellent tips.

gatornic15 on August 25, 2012:

I laid sod and it looked great, but my dogs have killed it in areas by going to the bathroom on it.

anonymous on August 07, 2012:

Returning to post this lens on FaceBook. Happy National Smile Day....and you are featured on Cool People on Squidoo. (been updating that old lens)

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on July 01, 2012:

It is definitely time for folks to be laying out their sod for the summer months. With 2 weddings happening this summer we are expecting a lot of company this year so I have to get my husband out into the backyard doing some repairs to our lawn.

anonymous on June 13, 2012:

So I've been looking at sod MN and it seems pretty good. I'm from a place where you never plant sod (unless your rich, which we weren't), so sod is new to me. Is there a time where you have to plant more? does sod just wear out after a while?

anonymous on June 04, 2012:

You always have the best DIY instruction that is so easy to follow for the results you want the first time!

bulululu on June 04, 2012:

Great lens for push lawn mower

anonymous on May 18, 2012:

There is a lot of places where you can buy sod but I learned that you have to spend the extra money to get some high class stuff that is going to look really good and last a long time.

anonymous on December 12, 2011:

Spring is just around the corner and time to make those plans for planting sod properly with your clear direction once again. Right now is a good time to sharpen up those lawn mower blades and be ready when that grass starts to grow again.......a little angel dust mixed into that fertilizer will help I hope!

Ronlove LM on December 09, 2011:

Very Nice Awesome colors!

blanckj on August 11, 2011:

Great tips. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Keep up the good work.

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