Not sure how to lay sod? In about 2 minutes you'll be an expert. Laying sod is really easy. Follow these steps and you'll be drinking lemonade and playing croquet in no time.
Skip right to the instructions on how to lay sod.
Several years ago I ripped out most of my front yard and started from scratch. Overgrown bushes? Gone. Scraggly bushes? Gone. Possibly possessed bushes? Gone for good.
I performed an exorcism on my front yard.
I got rid of everything and replaced it with with beds of vegetables. I also ripped out perhaps the scariest thing of all. The grub grass. Grass decimated by grubs. I replaced it with new sod and my yard suddenly had that new car feeling. Only, it was a lawn. This remember, was 6 years ago. My sod now looks sad again. I'm not sure if it's grubs (I have't been super-diligent about applying nematodes) or general wear and tear or what but my sod now looks less new car and more like a cobbled together junkyard heap.
Therefore, I'm thinking about replacing my sod again. I know. Get rid of the grass. But I like how it looks and feels on my feet. I like cutting it with my push mower. It isn't a lot of grass, it acts mainly as a path in between the vegetables.
The first time I did this I was a bit worried about the cost, since I'm cheap and would normally do something like reseed. But reseeding takes a really long time, it can be spotty, you can't walk on it for months (which was NOT going to work for me) and all of the seed I've ever purchased (from cheap to expensive) has come with a few parting gifts in the form of mutant weeds.
So after taking a few measurements and calling around I discovered I could buy all the sod I needed to do my front yard for the whopping sum of ... $95. $45 for the sod, and $50 for delivery.
Laying sod is really easy and I realize I might be in the minority here, but I found I really liked laying sod. The prep work was kindda gross, but the actual laying and cutting of the sod was fun and the result is INSTANT. BOOM! Pretty green grass. Just like that.
It's incredibly simple, but to lay sod and have it "stick" you do have to follow a few steps.
First thing you need to do is get drunk.
That's not right. Sorry ... that's what you do prior to a job interview. Silly me. Here's how you lay sod ...
Table of Contents
Laying Sod Yourself
What you'll need
- Pieces of sod
- Top soil
- Knife to cut the sod
Step 1. The first thing you need to do is remove your old sod and dig up the earth and get it good and broken up.
But can't I lay sod over my existing grass?
Nope. I'm afraid not. The sod needs to be in contact with soil. If you lay sod on existing lawn it will die a rather quick death, killing the lawn underneath as well. Then you'll have to get rid of TWO layers of lawn.
If you want to make the process of cutting out your existing lawn a bit easier you can:
- use a rototiller to cut up the grass and dig it into the soil below
- cover the grass with a black tarp for 1 month - 1 year. The longer you leave the tarp on the more decomposed the grass will become. So if you leave it on for only a month the roots should be dead making the grass easier to dig up or turn into the soil. If you leave it for a year the grass will have fully decomposed enough that you can rake it out and lay your sod right down.
Step 2. Now rake the soil out so it's level.
What should you put down before laying sod?
- lawn starter fertilizer
- top soil
Take the extra step, and go the extra mile - directly to your local garden center to pick up these things. Adding these two things will improve your chances of successfully getting your newly laid sod to take.
Step 3. Grab some lawn starter fertilizer.
Step 4. Sprinkle the fertilizer over your soil. (instructions on how much will be on your fertilizer container)
Step 5. Shovel a 3" layer of top soil over everything.
Step 6. Level the top soil with a rake.
Step 7. Lay down your sod in a brickwork pattern. This is your final and most fun step.
Always lay your sod in a brickwork pattern. In other words, don't have all your edges of sod lining up with each other. Stagger them.
For a better chance of your sod "taking" on all the edges, slightly overlap the sod so it's a bit too tight, like you see in the picture below. Then step on the 2 edges where the sod meets. It'll squish down together forming a good bond of soil and sod.
Also make sure there are no air pockets under your sod anywhere. The underneath, root mat of the sod needs to meet the soil everywhere.
To cut straight lines, lay a plank of wood down and run a sharp knife (I actually find a curved linoleum knife like this one here works GREAT) along the sod to cut it.
Anddd ... you're done.
How long will it take sod to root?
Your sod should take root in about 2 weeks. To test it just pull up a corner of the sod. If it lifts easily it isn't rooted. If it doesn't lift or is hard to pull up, it has indeed rooted.
The only part left is to water, water, WATER. You need to water deeply every single day for about a month to ensure the growth of your grass. Letting it dry out even once will spell disaster. It is not allowed to dry out. Speaking of which ...
Now you can fix yourself a drink and get drunk.
Unless you have a couple of these. In which case, they can fix your drinks for you.
O.K. so now I've got you all hyped up to lay down some new sod. Good. Fantastic. That was my goal. So when are you going to do it?
What's the best time of year to lay sod?
- Late Summer. For cool season grasses (Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Rye, Fescues) the BEST time to lay sod is in the late summer or early fall. This because the temperatures are cooler and it's generally wetter, conditions which these grasses thrive in. The second best time to plant cool season grasses is spring.
- Spring. Spring is the best time to lay warm season grasses (Bermuda, Centipedegrass, Carpetgrass) again, because the conditions are more favourable for it.
- If these options don't work for your timeline, you can really plant grass at any time. Planting during the preferred season just increases your chance at success.
Congratulations on your first lay.
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So did the nematodes not work? Or was it just too much of a hassle to wait?
Katrina - The Nematodes were for THIS grass. The last grass was wayyyy too far gone to fix with nematodes. Over the past several years the grubs managed to kill it. So, I laid down new sod and treated it with nematodes because even though I have new grass, I'd still have grubs in the soil beneath. ~ karen!
How many square feet (or meters being that you are in canada) is that? I would love to redo my front but I am afraid of how much it would cost...
Sera - I can't remember exactly what the measurements are, but the 3 areas are around 10'x4', 10'x 4, and 15'x2'. Plus there are a few other small spots. So say around $50 to do 150 square feet. (plus whatever delivery is) Even if your lawn is 4 times the size it'll only be $200 plus, probably $50 for delivery. ~ karen!
I always thought laying sod would be some crazy complicated process, but it doesn't look too intimidating!
Nah, it's easy. The most important part is to keep it watered every, SINGLE day. Once it's established you're golden. ~ karen
Families who live on Military bases just lay the sod on the area of the lawn that needs it. Sometimes they even lay it on existing grass to kill weeds. The only thing they do special is to water it so it won't dry out.
So practical! And yet, hilarious... You have a talent, or a skill, or perhaps too much gin.
I love your site, I love your practical and amazingly fun ideas, and your sense of humor has me howling each time I read an article!
I'm happy you found my site Susan! My sod is still doing very well by the way. :) ~ karen!
What kind of fertilizer did you purchase to put down before you laid the sod?
Hi Danny - It's fertilizer specifically for giving new lawn a jump start. It's ... Sod and Seed Starter 10-22-10 ~ karen!
Thanks so much, I live in Lubbock, TX and we plan to put out about 300 sq.ft. of sod tomorrow and I want to have everything ready. Appreciate your help and expertise. By the way, can you find this fertilizer at Home Depot or Lowes?
Danny - Yup! It's a common thing. Glad to help. ~ karen
We have rental dogs that will be glad to give anyone's new sodded yard that "lived-in" look. Small medium and large dogs to fit your yard needs. And yes, they do fertilize. :)
I hate sod. Well not so much the sod, but laying it. About 8 years ago we got a pool and had to have sod around it to pass inspection, so I told my hubs, WE can do it..it’s easy peasy. It took a little convincing but I got him on board with, we will save a lot of money doing it ourselves. So, being a designer he sketched it, mapped it, measures it and then staked out the area with wooden stakes and string. We got the exact number of pieces needed (which was a lot), laid them, watered them, and then admired them for a whole 15 mins before I realized he was having a heart attack. It didn’t killl him, but we avoided the garden area of Home Depot for a long while. Sod PTSD, it’s a real thing.
Love yours Karen, it looks beautiful. ❤️
I let my small patch of grass die a couple of summers ago, thinking it is just too much water to waste here in the dryness of southern Arizona. I now need to fill in the stupid, hypocritical, water-sucking, life draining, hole in the ground in which to throw money pool that is right beside the "ex-lawn". (Anyone thinking of having a pool, rent a place with a pool for a year and take care of everything yourself. Not so much fun!) I am thinking of putting in artificial grass where the lawn used to be. No one will notice the difference. You grass is beautiful, Karen, and I know it feels so lush underfoot.
Looking at the photos I see this post for what it really is:
How to bury a body in plain sight.
What a couple of cutie patooties! They related to you or did you just grab them off the street?
Don't you mean "croquet?" Or is smacking croquettes around on the lawn a Canadian thing? Either way, have a ball!
Yes, lol. I know it's wrong I just haven't been bothered to correct it. Maybe today at some point. :)
Good grief sod is cheap in your neck of the woods. I wanted to replace a small strip along the road where a parked truck's oil had destroyed it and for something like 1x7 metres it was outrageous, and that was just for the sod!
Also, is this post really 6 years old, or are the comments just showing 2012 for fun?
The post was originally written in 2012 and I updated it (rewrote and improved the photos) a couple of weeks ago in 2018. That's why there are comments from both years. :) ~ karen!