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There’s something very pleasing about looking at a healthy lawn. And, when the weather is nice enough, your lawn becomes the perfect area for outdoor games, family picnics, and other recreational activities. But, what if you have a sparse, weedy lawn? Well, a good sod installation can fix that. Overnight! Laying sod is one of the easiest ways to convert your barren backyard into an instant, lush lawn.

A well-maintained lawn improves curb appeal and even increases the value of your home. That’s why investing in your lawn is a wise decision. For those who’re beginners in the field of gardening, sod is real grass that you can buy in rolls. These rolls are like pre-grown grass mats. 

If you too want to learn how to lay sod in your yard and get a green lawn quickly and easily, here’s a complete rundown on sod installation — including the process and its cost. 

What is the best time of the year to lay sod?

best time to lay sod

Sod installation can be undertaken right from spring through fall. And, even during winters if you live in a region with mild climates. Having said that, early spring or summer is usually the best time for sod installation. The pleasant climate is conducive to the growth of the sod. Keep in mind that very high or too low temperatures can stress the sod — preventing a good root system from developing.

Also, heavy rain can undo all the hard work you’ve put into preparing the ground for the lawn sod. The best way to provide optimum-level conditions for the laying of your sod is to check the weather forecast and then begin the process.  

Read more: Planting grass seed vs sod: which is the better option?

Step-by-step sod installation 

This is one landscaping project that you can do easily yourself. Sodding a lawn is much quicker than growing full-fledged grass from grass seeds. Here’s a look at what goes into sod installation.

Plan in advance

Preparation is key to a good sod installation. It even ensures that your sod takes root properly. It’s a good idea to start planning to lay the new sod a few weeks before the actual day. Avoid laying sod during times of heavy rain, drought, or water restriction. Keep in mind that for the success of your new sod, you need plenty of water once it’s in place. 

Measure the area 

sod installation tips

Take measurements of your yard in square feet to make sure you buy sufficient sod. To measure your yard, counting your steps is the best way. Follow the guidelines below for a fair estimate:

  • Walk the length of your yard and note the number of steps. 
  • Then, walk the width and note.
  • Multiply the number of steps by 3 for length (the average human step is approximately three feet).
  • And, multiply by 3 for width. 
  • Multiply these two numbers to find the total square footage. 

You could also use a measuring wheel for a more exact measurement.

Buy sufficient quantity of the type of sod you want

Choose your sod type, and whether you want strips or slabs. Generally, 16″ x 24″ pieces of sod work great on most home lawns. Of course, larger rolls will be more cost-effective for larger areas. It’s always a good idea to order a little more sod than required.

It’s best to plan the sod delivery or pickup as near to the day of the project as possible. Fresh sod should be planted quickly so that it can be watered and be ready to receive nutrients from the soil. Remember to store the sod in the shade, a cool garage, or an outdoor shed until you use it. 

Prep the soil

Getting the ground ready for your new sod is important. Remember that new sod can’t be laid over the existing growth. To prep your lawn:

  • Remove all the weeds and stray plant life from the area. You can make use of a sod cutter. 
  • Water the area and spray an herbicide. 
  • Lay compost on the lawn for a few weeks in order to suppress any new growth in the soil. 
  • Till and rake the ground at least 6 inches deep to loosen the dirt and uncover any buried rocks. 
  • Test the pH level and mineral levels of the soil using a soil test kit. 
  • Add lawn fertilizer depending on the soil pH. 
  • Level the ground. Add extra topsoil if required.

Now, your ground is ready to receive the new sod. 

Read more: How to prevent soil erosion

Lay sod neatly

For best results, the ground needs to be dampened. Unroll your new turf and start laying the first roll against a straight edge in your yard. It’s best to follow the line of your outdoor patio, driveway, or fence to keep the edges straight. Smooth out the area that may have bunched up. Remove any air pockets by using a shovel. Keep watering the newly installed sod.

With a utility knife, cut each piece in the required size — making sure the pieces lay flush with each other. 

Fill in the gaps

Once the lawn is fully covered, look for gaps in hard-to-reach, oddly shaped areas. Fill the gaps with leftover scraps. Fill in any small seams with some topsoil.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to cut openings for the sprinkler head of your sprinkler system or any other fixture sticking up from the ground. Continue to press down the sod to remove any air pockets. This also helps lock the moisture and lets the sod take root in the soil. For large yards, you may want to use a lawn roller to smooth out the new sod.

Water and maintain the new sod

new sod care

Water your new sod so that the ground below is moist. Make sure it’s making good contact with the soil. Water the yard daily for the first week. Remember, you have to water, not overwater the yard.

And, do not walk on it. You don’t want the sod to shift, become uneven, or bunched up. As the new sod starts to take root, change the irrigation schedule to every other day, and then twice a week. 

When it’s time for a trim, use a push mower. Fertilize your lawn after mowing it.

How much does it cost for sod installation?

On average, rolls of sod cost about $0.34 to $0.85 per square foot, depending on the type of grass you want and the quantity you need. For a 2,000 square foot lawn, the sod would cost you $680 to $1,700.

If you hire a professional instead of a DIY sod installation, the pricing will increase from $0.90 to $1.80 per square foot. In which case, homeowners can expect to pay anything between $1,800 and $3,600 to cover a 2,000 square feet lawn.

Cost of sod by type

Sod comes in several different types of grasses. You can choose the one that suits your climate and budget range. Here are some popular grass types with their average costs per square foot:

Type Of Grass Average Cost Per Square Foot
Bentgrass$0.56 – $0.62
Fine Fescue$0.39 – $0.46
Perennial Ryegrass$0.80 – $0.84
Kentucky Bluegrass$0.22 – $0.45
Tall Fescue$0.40 – $0.52
Bermuda$0.57 – $0.84
Centipede$0.80 – $0.84
Zoysia$0.62 – $0.85
St. Augustine$0.57 – $1.14
Bahia$0.20 – $0.25

Last thoughts

If your lawn is pale, patchy, or weedy and you want it to turn into a flourishing lush green space, a sod installation will make it happen. Although growing grass using grass seeds may seem like an easier, cheaper solution, you’ll have to wait a long time for the results to show. Moreover, grass growth will depend to a large extent on the climatic condition at that time. The germinating seed may dry out and die due to either dry heat or extreme cold. Or, it may be washed away in heavy rain if you have a sloping yard.  

If you don’t mind spending more, the sod will give you a beautiful, lush, thick lawn in a fraction of that time. And, that means instant gratification for you! 

Everything you need to know about sod installation was last modified: June 8th, 2021 by Ramona Sinha

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