There are two ways of growing grass for your lawn. The first way is to grow it from seed. This is done usually early Spring and/or early Fall. In my opinion re-seeding your lawn instead of laying sod is the best option. Because it is cheaper, and in the long term the grass grows better. The second option is to lay sod. It is fast, and basically you have instant gratification.
This weekend I installed sod at a property. The owner needed grass right away, and he could not wait until the Fall. Since the area that needed help was just 450 sf., we decided re-seeding was not going to be a good option.
These are the steps I follow when I install sod:
Before I started this project, I ordered 1 pallet of sod in advance. This is something you want to have delivered the day, or the day after it has been cut and rolled. The reason is because, the more time the grass is kept in rolls, the greater the chance it will die.
When you have a roll of sod, water, light and oxygen will not reach the blade and roots of the grass. Also the grass starts decomposing the same way it decomposes inside a compost pile.
- The first thing to do is to prepare the soil. In this case the grass was pretty much dead, so I used an iron rake and removed all the dead grass. I try not to rototill the soil if I can avoid it. Tilling the soil breaks down the soil particles into smaller aggregates. It also displaces the microbes that live in the top layer. You don’t have to remove every single old blade of grass, or tiny little pieces of organic material like small twigs, dead leaves, or small weeds. All that will become organic matter and decompose rather quickly.
- Since the soil is pretty clean from yard waste, this is the time to remove small rocks. Make sure the soil surface is level, and cover holes with compost. In fact, this is a good time to spread some compost on top of the soil. Again, there is no need to till the compost into the soil. Make sure to spread the compost evenly on the soil surface.
- Spread now organic fertilizer. Granular or liquid is fine. I like liquid because it is easy to spread, but whatever you can find (if it is organic) will do the work. Compost brings back the microbiology, and organic fertilizer feeds those microbes.
- Make sure the soil is moist before you lay down the rolls of sod. A dry soil will extract the moisture out of the sod.
- I like to use as much sod as possible without cutting any pieces. So, I always try to look for the longest straight edge in the yard. Here in this property this edge is along the walkway.
I placed the first row, making sure the second row doesn’t align exactly with the first row. I want to avoid the edges of each roll from creating a single long line that can potentially dry out.
- With each roll, make sure the end of a roll fit snugly against the end of another roll. Avoid pockets of air under the sod, or in between the ends of each roll of sod.
- Water every day o make sure the little roots have the chance to grow deeper.
- Avoid walking on the grass for a couple of weeks. If the soil is too wet under the sod you can create pockets of air if the grass roots are not deep enough.
I took me 4 hours by myself to rake and prepare the soil, as well as laying 1 whole pallet of sod. There is 50 rolls per pallet that covers roughly 500 sf.