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By: Marko Vuorinen
For many landscapers, the instant gratification felt in having an instant lawn is not to be competed with. After all, when one seeds a lawn, it can take quite a while to grow. But laying sod is an excellent way to get an instantly grassy and lush yard. It is more than possible to lay sod yourself. It is not very difficult to do, although it does require planning and some hard work. But, if you plan wisely and work well, you should be able to save a great deal of money over having someone else lay the sod for you.

The very first thing to do is to prepare the dirt area for the sod. You should, of course, already have the sod on order to be delivered or picked up, so that you can lay it as soon as the ground is prepared (but do not have it delivered or go pick it up before preparations are complete; it will rot if it sits in the sun for too long before you begin laying it). Prepare your yard by performing any necessary soil enhancements to bring the pH in line with what the sod needs. The soil should already be tilled, and you should do a final rake or drag of the area to ensure that it is level and that all larger pebbles, rocks, and sticks are removed from the area. Moisten the soil, but do not make it muddy and soggy. If you plan to have an irrigation or sprinkler system, make sure that it is in place before you lay your sod.

Sod comes either in rolls or in rectangles or squares. In any case, it is a good idea to begin by laying the sod against a straight line. A sidewalk, driveway, or flowerbed against the side of the house makes an excellent guide. As you unroll each new length of sod, or fit in each piece, press the edges together. Do not overlap them, but do try to manually knit them together so that there are no visible spaces between pieces of sod. You should stagger the locations of joints so that there is not a line of sod pieces showing the length of the yard. Staggering will give the sodded lawn an appearance of being more naturally grown.

Having an inexpensive carpet knife available will help you as you lay your sod around more oddly shaped or rounded areas. Even though you start along a straight edge, few yards are completely uniform in their shape. You can cut pieces of sod to fit around fixtures, trees, and sprinkler heads. You should work from one end of the yard to another, but in such a manner as to avoid walking on laid sod until after it can be rolled.

After the sod is down, you should use a lawn roller to go over your sod. These can be rented at reasonable rates. The roller is specially designed to help sodded lawns take better root. It forces the roots in the sod to make positive contact with the soil below, encouraging better knitting. You should water your new lawn every day for the first week (except, of course, on rainy days) and more than every day if the weather is especially hot. After the first week, gradually begin stretching out times between watering, as this encourages the roots to grow downward, seeking moisture deeper in the soil. Be sure to water deeply, however. Fertilizer can be applies at intervals throughout the season, and you should begin a regular mowing schedule three to four weeks after first laying the sod.

If you take good care of your new lawn, it should flourish, and you will achieve faster results than seeding the lawn and waiting for it to grow. Additionally, if you take care to conscientiously prepare your soil and carefully lay your sod, then there is no reason that you cannot enjoy some of the best lawn in your neighborhood. But be sure to properly care for the sod after it is laid to ensure that the roots firmly house themselves in your soil, and to prevent the sun from drying out and killing your brand new lawn.

Marko Vuorinen
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