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Installing a Sod Lawn

Materials List
Tools List (click item to shop)
50 ft. or 100 ft. tape measure
Paper and pencil
Garden spade
Curved drywall knife
Lawn pegs
Claw Hammer
Garden hose
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IMPORTANT: Read this before you start

Few things are more pleasing to the eye or more satisfying for a homeowner than an expanse of lush green lawn. It adds value to your property and beauty to your everyday environment. The quickest way to get the results you dream of is to install sod. Unlike seeding, once the sod is planted the lawn is in place without waiting. When the sod farm or nursery drops off the pallets stacked with rolled sod pieces, the project can look a little intimidating. But with a bit of advance planning and preparation, you can make short work of creating a beautiful lawn and enjoy the results of your investment for years to come.

Skill Level & Time To Complete
Varies depending on the size of the yard and the number of people. One person can lay sod by himself, but a crew of two is more than twice as fast, since one can haul the sod and the other install it continuously.
• Beginner - Single Homeowner: 45 to 60 yards per hour
• Intermediate - Crew of Two: 100 to 150 yards per hour
• Advanced - Expert Crew of Two: 200 yards per hour

Since laying sod involves repetitive lifting, you may want to wear a back-support belt for this project.

Common Mistakes
Do not order your sod until the area where you‘ll plant it is completely ready. For new construction, this means the contractor has completed a final grade of the property and spread a thin layer of topsoil. For areas with existing growth, this means you’ve dug out woody growth by the roots, applied a systemic plant killer, tilled up the soil and raked it level. After using a systemic plant killer, you should wait two weeks before laying the sod.

Helpful Tips
If your property has more than a10-15% slope, install the pieces of sod across the face of the slope, NOT running up and down the slope. This will help prevent erosion from water run-off. If you want to put mulch down around existing trees and shrubs, do not lay the sod right up to the trunk. Stop 1-2 ft. from the trunk all the way around, and use a garden spade to cut the shape of the area to be mulched, later.

1. Start by calculating how much sod you’ll need. Use a paper and pencil to draw a reasonably accurate diagram of your yard area, and fill in the measurements for length and width in feet. Subdivide your diagram into the largest rectangle or square you can, then a series of smaller squares, for ease of measurement. Estimate irregular areas as if they were rectangles or triangles. To figure the area of a rectangle, multiply the length by the width. For a triangle, multiply the lengths of the two smaller sides, and then divide by two. Once you’ve added up the total square footage, divide the number by nine (9) to convert it to square yards. Sod is ordered by the yard.
2. When the sod arrives, you’ll see that each piece is one square yard, and measures 1-1/2 ft. wide by 6 ft. long. It is rolled dirt-side-out. To install the sod, you simply move it to where you want it and unroll it. As the old joke goes, your result should be “green side up.”
3. Start by a straight edge, such as a sidewalk or driveway edge. Unroll the pieces of sod and butt them closely to the edge and each other. Place the sod in long straight rows, end-to-end.
4. As you start each successive row, offset the seams between pieces of sod. In other words, a gap or seam between pieces in one row should be next to a continuous strip of sod in the next. You will probably need to cut pieces of sod to maintain this offset arrangement. Use the garden spade, drywall knife or large kitchen knife to do this.
5. At the end of a row, simply cut the last piece of sod to fit your space. Be sure to maintain the offset arrangement of the pieces at the row ends, however.
6. On a hillside or other incline, it is very helpful to peg the pieces of sod. Do not run the sod up and over the hill, but instead, lay it so it goes around the hill, in rows from bottom to top. This will help prevent erosion from water run-off. Use a hammer to drive the wooden pegs into the four corners of each sod piece. This will hold the sod in place until it roots; and eventually the wooden pegs will decompose. Make sure the pegs do not stick up where they will interfere with mowing.
7. Once the sod is installed, you will need to water it carefully. Every day for at least two weeks, water every part of the new sod for 2-3 hours. Make sure the water hits every corner, even if that means having the sprinkler wet beyond the edge or corner. If you water in the evening, it helps the sod retain moisture and root faster. After two to three weeks, your sod should be rooted in the soil underneath, and you can cut back to a standard lawn watering schedule.



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