Whether you’re tired of staring at a weed-filled, yellow lawn, or simply have a new yard in need of grass, laying sod will be an incredibly effective way of obtaining a lush, green outdoor landscape. Installing sod shouldn’t take you more than a few hours, and if done correctly, will ensure years of healthy grass to maintain and enjoy.

In this article we’re going to explore the ins-and-outs of how to install sod, covering the tools and techniques you need to successfully complete the job.

Materials Needed

In addition to the tools needed for sod lawn installation, there are three essential materials you must keep on hand for the project. They include:

  • Topsoil. This is the nutrient-rich top-layer of soil that you’ll lay atop your sod. Quality topsoil is important to ensuring that the sod adheres to the ground and maintains a high level of health.
  • Sod. This will be the grass, either cut or rolled, that will be applied to your lawn area.
  • Lawn Fertilizer. Lawn fertilizer will be applied to your sod following installation, ensuring that it grows lush and green.

With those taken care of, let’s now explore some sod installation instructions.

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Measure the Area You’ll Be Sodding

Before you can begin preparing your lawn for sod placement, you must first determine the size of the space needing coverage. This is an important step because careful measurements will prevent you from ordering more sod than is required and save you money. You’ll want to order roughly 5% more sod than the measurements so that you’re covered for any mistakes or mishaps, and ensure that the sod is delivered within 24 hours of being cut.

Dig Organic Matter Into Soil

The first step of soil preparation is to dig organic matter into your soil. Using a rototiller, dig 6 to 8 inches into your lawn to unearth debris such as rocks, removing them from the lawn as they surface. Once complete, use the rototiller to add 2 to 3 inches of organic matter to the area. The organic matter will help tremendously with soil aeration and water retention, increasing the health and longevity of the lawn.

Rake Soil Level

The next step is to evenly rake your soil and prepare it for the sod application. Ensure that your soil is one inch below the grade of sprinklers and paved areas, such as sidewalks and driveways, so that the grass installation remains flush with them. Raking will help loosen soil particles that may have gotten compacted with the rototiller, better preparing it to receive and bind with the grass roots.

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Lay Sod in Rolls

Be sure to adequately water your soil 24 to 48 hours prior to sod application, as it must be moist for successful application. Starting along a straight edge, such as a driveway or patio, apply whole pieces of sod from end to end, connecting one at a time. Pat the sod carefully into place and work to smooth out any wrinkles or air pockets along the way. Be sure to avoid stepping on the sod at this stage, and rake away any footprint marks that exist on the un-sodded soil prior to application.

Create Tight Seams

Your sod should all be tightly aligned, with no air pockets or exposed soil visible. Run your thumbs along the sod edge to press it firmly against the pieces beside it, but be sure to not create any overlap at the seams.

Middle Placement for Small Pieces

When laying down sod, be sure to place small pieces into the middle of the lawn. This will ensure that all sides of the piece are connected with other sod sections, helping to prevent dry-out and shrinkage. If you place small pieces along the lawns edge, where they aren’t fully connected, there’s a good chance they won’t survive the recovery stage.

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Fill in Seams

Once all of your sod has been laid, you can now begin to brush topsoil across the entire surface area. Using a push broom, spread the topsoil throughout the centre of the lawn, being careful not to push up loose turf edges as you make your way.

Roll Sod

Following the application of topsoil, push the sod firmly against the soil beneath with the help of a sod roller. The tight connection that this rolling process creates will allow the grass roots to quickly adhere to the soil and begin development.

Sprinkle on Sod

Following sod placement, it’s important to constantly water your sod in order to ensure healthy recovery and continued growth. We recommend that you water your sod daily (unless it rains) for the first week, paying attention to not pool or puddle water on the sod. You can reduce watering to every-other day in week two, and you only need to water twice in week three. This tapering-off of water application will encourage the grass roots to sink deep into the soil and create a strong, healthy connection.

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Mowing Grass

You should mow your new sod installation once it’s reached a height of three inches, but only after 10-days have passed since the sod application. It’s best to use a push-mower as opposed to a ride-on, and you should do what you can to catch the grass clippings along the way so as to not suffocate the new grass. As an additional note, be sure that the blade on your mower is sharp – this will prevent the root tear-up that can occur with fresh sod.

RollFertilizing GrassSod

Once four weeks have passed since successful sodding, it’s time to begin grass fertilization. Continued grass seeding and watering will ensure long term health, and once you’ve fertilized for the first time, you and your family are now ready to enjoy your new lawn to its full potential.


How Long Do You Have to Stay Off of New Sod?

Following the success of your grass sod installation, you should remain off the lawn for a minimum of three weeks. This includes both pets and children. This will give the sod time to adhere to the soil below and create a strong foundation for healthy growth.

How Much Does It Cost for Sod Installation?

Costs for your diy sod installation will vary depending on the specifics of the project, however, the average cost lies somewhere near 40 cents per square foot (if installed by you). Assuming your lawn is 1,000 square feet, you should budget approximately $1,000, adding more or less depending on size variance.

What Direction Should You Lay Sod?

The direction of your sod will be determined by the flat edge areas surrounding your lawn. Because your first strips of sod should be against a flat surface, like a driveway or sidewalk, you’ll simply continue laying it out from that point.

What Is the Best Time of the Year to Lay Sod?

The best time to install sod depends on the type of grass. If you’re working with cool-weather grass, like Bentgrass or Kentucky Blue, you’ll want to be planting sod in the spring. If you’re working with warm-season grass, like Bermudagrass or Centipedegrass, you’ll want to be planting sod anytime the sun is shining.

Where to Buy Sod?

You’ll want to source your sod from a local sod farm, ensuring that you’re receiving high quality sod at a reasonable price. Be sure to measure your lawn prior to ordering so that you don’t overspend.

Do I Need to Rototill Before Laying Sod?

Yes, you should rototill your lawn before laying sod. Rototilling will unearth rocks and other hard objects that would otherwise prevent the grass from adhering to the soil, and it gives you the ability to work organic matter in prior to sod application.

Should you wet the ground before laying sod?

Yes, your soil must be moist prior to sod application. It’s best to adequately water the area 24 to 48 hours before you plan on applying the sod.

How long does sod take to root?

Sod will begin rooting within a day or two following its application, but it won’t be fully set and ready for use until 4 weeks after you lay it. With adequate watering, fertilization, and care, you’ll have a beautiful lawn ready for activity within one-month of application.

Can I lay sod on top of grass?

No. The grassroots must be able to dig into a soil bed and adhere so that the grass can grow strong and healthy. If placed on top grass, the sod will lack the nutrients it needs and die.

Can you overwater sod?

Definitely. You should avoid pooling water on your sod, as it will prevent the roots from having time to bind with the soil. It’s best to water daily during the first week following application, with the amount of water applied dwindling off as each week passes.

How long does it take to install sod?

From the moment you lay your first piece of sod to the moment you lay your last, it shouldn’t take more than three or four hours. This will depend heavily on the size of your lawn and the number of helping hands you have, but the sod application process is quite quick. If you’re factoring in the time it will take to rototill and prepare your lawn for the sod application, add on an additional time chunk.

If you’re looking for expert sodding support and service, ISR Gardening is here to help. With years of experience in the sod application and lawn maintenance space, our professional team is ready to help you make your dream lawn a reality. Contact us today to learn more about our GTA lawn care services!