This is Part 2 of the series on laying sod. For Part 1, go to How to Lay Sod: Step-by-Step Instructions Part 1.
After you’ve properly prepared the soil for planting sod, it’s time to concentrate on the sod itself.
Step 7: Buy the Sod
Sod is available at your local garden center or you can buy it from a sod farm. Sod prices vary depending on the type and amount you purchase. For small areas, a 16″ x 24″ rectangular piece retails about $0.80 at the local garden center. Most garden centers won’t deliver unless you order at least a full pallet. Each pallet typically contains 500 sq. ft., but each store may differ slightly.
Sod farms sells sod by the roll, each roll covers 10 sq. ft. (18″ x 6’8″). A pallet contains 50 rolls. At about $0.25/sq. ft., the cost of sod is $125 per pallet covering 500 sq. ft. Do a little research. Depending on the size of your yard and location, buying sod at a sod farm may be more economical.
Step 8: Lay the Sod
If you are laying rolls of sod, you should begin with the long side of your yard. Carefully unroll the sod and try not to step on it as you go. If you do step on the sod and leave footprints, rake it out. Smooth out any wrinkle spots and pat down the sod to get rid of any air pockets. The sod should be laying flat against the soil making good contact. Make sure each section is installed tightly with the next to minimize the appearance of seams. You should also stagger the seams on the short-ends (kind of like when laying bricks). If you’re laying sod on a slope, make sure to lay it perpendicular to the slope to prevent sliding. If you have a deep slope, use stakes to keep the sod in place.
Step 9: Water the Newly Laid Sod
Keeping the sod moist is extremely important. Once you’ve installed the sod, make sure it’s watered thoroughly. Do not walk on the new sod for at least a week. Follow a daily routine of watering in the morning for the first week. For the second week, you can water every other day. After that, you can water 2-3 times a week to add up to about an inch of water per week. Adjust your watering schedule depending upon the weather. Hot and dry weather: more watering. Cold and wet weather: less watering. The soil should be damp 3-4″ below the surface. You can use a Soil Moisture Meter to help measure the soil moisture. (See also: Mistakes to avoid when watering your lawn.)
Step 10: Mow the Grass
The rule of thumb when it comes to mowing your lawn is to cut off no more than 1/3 of the length of the grass at a time. For your new sod’s first mowing, wait until the grass is at least 3 inches high and take an inch off. Personally, I like to keep my lawn a little bit high since it promotes deep root growth and keeps the weeds at bay. (See also: How High Should I Cut My Grass?)
Step 11: Spread Starter Fertilizer
3-4 weeks after you install the sod, spread another layer of Starter Fertilizer to replace nutrients that was washed away by the initial heavy watering.
And there you have it. With a little bit of hard work and help from a buddy, you can install a new lawn over the weekend. However, if the cost of sod is an issue, you can always grow your new lawn from seed.