How to Lay Sod for a Beautiful Lawn

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 …

Laying Sod Yourself

What you’ll need

  • Pieces of sod
  • Fertilizer
  • Top soil
  • Knife to cut the sod
  • Shovel
  • Rake

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? 

  1. 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.
  2. Spring. Spring is the best time to lay warm season grasses (Bermuda, Centipedegrass, Carpetgrass) again, because the conditions are more favourable for it.  
  3. 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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How to Lay Sod for a Beautiful Lawn


  1. jodie says:

    So practical! And yet, hilarious… You have a talent, or a skill, or perhaps too much gin.

  2. Tequila says:

    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.


  3. Natalie Webb says:

    I always thought laying sod would be some crazy complicated process, but it doesn’t look too intimidating!

    • Karen says:

      Nah, it’s easy. The most important part is to keep it watered every, SINGLE day. Once it’s established you’re golden. ~ karen

  4. sera says:

    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…

    • Karen says:

      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!

  5. Katrina says:

    So did the nematodes not work? Or was it just too much of a hassle to wait?

    • Karen says:

      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!

  6. Liz says:

    You are always so motivating. Plus the tip about drinking after seems good. That might just be the reason some of my project don’t go as planned. Or at all.

  7. Janet says:

    I’d much rather follow your tips than Martha Stewart’s, anyday…you are so much funnier…..but stay out of jail, please….although,.. she was probably served her gin and tonics there, and heck, we may have even paid for them. Hmmmm….maybe jail
    wouldn’t be so bad…is there a beach there?

    • Crystal says:

      I think jail was good for Martha’s image. I mean, is it just me or did she seem much more laid back once she did time? I feel like she started taking herself much less seriously, which is a good thing. Not that I recommend jail for a lifestyle makeover. Maybe a spa day. ;)

      • Alena says:

        I agree with you. I don’t watch her show (it it’s still running?) but the few times I saw her on TV after she had finished her special ‘staycation’ she did seem more laid back.

  8. Dawna Jones says:

    My husband and I build houses for a living so I am familiar with all things do it yourself including sod laying,can’t say it was the best lay I’ve ever had but the drinking in the end did produce some nice rental children! Love your blog Karen!

  9. Brenda j says:

    Get drunk and roll around on wet sod. Oh, we Canadian sure know how to have a good time eh? :)) (my double chin)

  10. marilyn says:

    precious babies..xo

  11. olemike says:

    Nice post – great pictures.

  12. Mary Werner says:

    Rental kids are so much more humane than hamsters that eat their young – great idea!

  13. Sam Braun says:

    if you have the gin and tonics first (or your kids make them kinda strong)… you could lay a heringbone pattern instead lol… i hear chevron’s kinda in this year! and for the newbies to laying things… don’t forget to liberate the sprinkler heads through the sod…the water gets out better that way :)

    of course, if you like your gel nails more than dirt, you can also hire a group of dirty men-boys with sod-layer tans and a banged up pick-up to do it for you–while you “supervise” sipping your gin and tonic–but that’s a whole different kinda post for you Karen! happy summer sod-lovers!

    • Alena says:

      If laying sod in chevron pattern you would need to cut the ends at 45 degree angle.
      Not that it cannot be done but you will waste quite a bit. And, really, why bother? You won’t see the pattern after a couple of weeks.

  14. AnnW says:

    Is there ANYTHING you can’t do? I used to watch Martha Stewart on TV and I was convinced I could plant a tree after watching her. Now I can lay sod, if I can find a yard that needs it.
    I was going to email you. I need to know how to regroutt 55 year old tile. Also, how to caulk that teeny tiny line around the place the tub fits into the wooden surround and the vanity meets the sink. I have tons of square and rectangular flagstones. Is it hard to make a patio. Can I just drop them on the grass? Thanks Ann

  15. Deb J. says:

    Laying sod is very satisfying but I recommend NOT doing it in the rain:). I did that once (my children were too young to mix and deliver drinks but I had trained my husband) and while it made for a really successful sod take, the rolls continued to get heavier and heavier as they got wetter and wetter. Tough! However if you do have the older rental kids (16, 17, 18) you might manage to make them do the lifting – that way you get the benefit of the successful sod without the aching back and BIG BIG muddy shoes. Just a thought.

  16. Mary Jane says:

    Laying sod is easier than I thought it would be. And the kids are soooo cute!

  17. Sue says:

    Great tutorial! Really cute rental kids too ;o)

  18. Con says:

    Some semi-related advice: if you’re laying lines on a photo in Photoshop, you can use the ‘Geometry Options’ drop-down in the toolbar to automatically add nice arrowheads to your lines. Avoids the hassle of manually drawing them, looks spiffy and frees up more time for drinking.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Thanks Con. Are you referring to “shapes”. I usually use it to make arrows, but I don’t really like their arrowheads, so I thought I’d try w/out today. ~ karen!

  19. mimiindublin says:

    “rental children for photo” what a great business idea!
    are mine too old? 16,18,19?

  20. Heather says:

    Rental kids are adorable.

  21. Lovely how to Lay sod tutorial and lovely children! Have a wonderful Day!

  22. Gayla T says:

    Do they have rent-a-kid in Canada? Great looking pair. If they can mix drinks they may be able to cook. I’d keep them if I were you. Thankfully, my sod laying days are over. I love that you left grass. Not what I expected at all…….better!

  23. Barbie says:

    Looks beautiful! Great job Karen!

  24. Where do you find rental children? I need them to fix me drinks…errr….help me lay sod. Who am I kidding, I need a small child to make me the perfect gin and tonic. Do you go on craigslist, or e-bay, or what?

  25. Teresa says:

    You are awesome! Luv the giggles I get every time I read your blog…. Hubby doesn’t get it, which is typical lol

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