There’s no better way to get a head start on your lawn than with sod. In the same way that you might buy sprouting tomato plants to transplant to your garden, you can get a head-start on your lawn with a DIY Sod Installation. Sod is long strips of pre-sprouted grass that you can install in your backyard. Over time the grass roots will grow down into the soil in your backyard, resulting in a lush, full lawn.
Installing your own sod can be an overwhelming proposition for the beginner; follow the steps below to guarantee a lasting sod installation.
Clear any rocks, large dirt clods (anything over 1″ in diameter should be broken up or cleared), or other debris from the area to be sodded. Once the soil is smooth, ensure that it is graded to a level of 1-1/2″ below sidewalk surfaces. Make sure this area is also free of weeds, provides proper draining away from the house, and is contoured to your liking.
If You Choose to Rototill
Incorporate 3 to 4 cubic yards of humus material* along with 5 to 7 pounds Phosphate per 1,000 square feet. (Rototilling without adding organic matter has little effect.). After rototilling, be sure the area has been leveled avoiding a “wash board” appearance. This can also be accomplished by puddling the area, which will settle the dirt and eliminate undesirable air pockets.
Remember, humus material will help retain soil moisture but has no nutritional value. A relatively inexpensive soil test can be conducted through your local County Extension Office to determine the condition of your soil. We recommend this test after almost any DIY sod installation, as they are an easy to determine the best treatment for your lawn.
*Humus material is a matured, dirt-like compost made of organic materials. It’s one of the most nutritious planting materials can be found at hardware and gardening stores, or made through composting.
If You Choost Not To Rototill
DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Apply a starter fertilizer with a cyclone spreader on a mid-range setting followed by a thorough watering. This is the food source for your lawn. Proper fertilization with a high-phosphorous fertilizer insures healthy root development and lasting beauty.
1. Install new sod in a brick-laying pattern as illustrated, staggering the joints. Begin with the longest straight line, and butt edges closely, but not overlapping.
Use a linoleum cutter to cut around trees and trim edges. Rake dirt up to the finished edges to prevent wind and air burn.
Start watering within 30 minutes of installation, which may mean watering behind the installer before the whole job is complete.
2. When installation is complete, make the second starter fertilizer application on top of the newly laid sod.
3. Begin watering immediately by flooding the area to eliminate the need for rolling. Watering assures adherence, eliminates air pockets and prevents possible shock.
Watering is the single most important factor in establishing a beautiful lawn, and is especially important for any DIY sod installation.
If shrinking or color changes occur (from blue to brown), the new sod is not receiving enough water. Hot days require as much as 3 one-hour periods or more of water during the initial rooting stage. Avoid walking on the area until your yard is established. After installing the sod remember to make periodic fertilizer applications to keep a healthy, attractive lawn and to maintain satisfactory growth and development of turf.