When done correctly, instillation of good grass sod can rapidly increase the time it takes to enhance a landscape. Planting grass seed is a cheaper option but for certain hybrid grass varieties, sod is your only option. Grass sod can turn a bald patch in your yard into a beautiful bed of green dense grass literally overnight but if done incorrectly, “Houston, we have a problem.” Below are some of the most common concerns you need to know about sod installation.
Tip # 1: Storage
Grass sod should be stored in a shaded area, covered when possible, and placed in an area with the least amount of exposure to winds. During instillation, lightly mist the pallet of sod with water every so often, or more frequently if it is exposed to direct sunlight and drying winds.
Tip # 2: Ground Preparation
Examine the soil and suitability of the site carefully. Take notice to the texture of soil to determine if other soil amendments are needed to improve soil structure. If the soil contains gravel, large stones, chemicals, gas, cement, or any other foreign contaminants, remove them before rolling out the sod. A soil test should be done in order to add the correct amount of fertilizer and other soil amendments. Area should be roto-tilled if highly compacted. More on soil preparation at the Planting Grass Seed page.
Tip # 3: Finishing Grade
The final grade should be smooth and level without any sharp dips or bulges. Remove as many stones as possible and hand rake surface for uniformity. Be sure that soil is firm enough to prevent the sod from sinking over time and drying out edges.
Tip # 4: Direction and Patterns
Start by laying the sod with the long edge of the sod running the length of the site like the edge of the sidewalk. If you have no straight lines for your guide, string a line across the job site. Make sure that last row of sod strip is at leas 6 – 8 inches wide. On hills and highly slopped areas, lay sod running lengthwise across the incline to prevent sod from sliding down. For really steep slopes, pin sod down with wooden stakes.
Tip # 5: Joining Sod Pieces
The ends of the sod must be placed in a staggered pattern (like cement blocks on a wall). This prevents the sod from sagging on inclined areas, keeps the ends from drying out, and allows the pieces of sod to merge together quicker.
Tip # 6: Handling Edges
Before the sod pieces are finally set in place, curl the cut edges downward to minimize drying out which can happen if the sod shrinks after placement.
Tip # 7: Clean Cuts
When cutting grass sod be sure to use a sharp knife. Sod cut with a dull knife can damage roots and slower growth into soil. Make cuts around objects (fixtures, walkways, etc.) first, since re-cutting is possible before the rest of the sod in that row is installed.
Tip # 8: Rolling
Roll the sod in two directions which forces the sod into soil bed and also pushes pieces together, which minimizes the sod from drying out.
Tip # 9: Irrigation
Water the sod thoroughly afterward but avoid soaking the sod continuously and at night. Right after installation the grass roots have not fully penetrated the soil surface and loose moisture quickly. Water grass sod 3 to 4 times daily in short intervals for 10 to 14 days. Once the sod is hard to pull up, good rooting has been achieved and can be watered once a day for a longer period of time. After a few days, irrigate sod every second or third day.