There are several methods involved in establishing a thick, green lawn including seeding and laying sod. Sod comes in squares or in thick rolls that can be unrolled and placed over your yard like a grass carpet. It is more involved than just putting it over the dirt in your yard. The soil of your yard must be prepared so that the sod carpet can take root. Otherwise the grass sod will die as it sits on your yard.
Test the soil of your yard tested to determine its structure, nutrient content and pH. Because some homebuilders dump their excavated soil from the foundations onto the lawn, your yard may be composed of substrate soil rather than topsoil. A soil test can help determine if you need to add topsoil, as well as what amendments you can add to improve your soil so that your grass will thrive. The USDA maintains soil-testing facilities in conjunction with community and continuing education programs run by state universities in each state. You can contact an agent with your local county extension service for your state's college for information on how to take and package soil samples, fees for testing and where to submit your samples.
Purchase the necessary soil amendments according to the results the test results. Topsoil may be the first requirement for your yard if it is composed of substrate soil. Common amendments include organic materials such as compost and manure, gypsum to aerate heavy clay soils, lime to raise the pH of soil and sulfur to lower the pH of soil. Additionally, you may wish to add a nitrogen-rich fertilizer (10-0-0).
Spread topsoil over your lawn to a depth of 6 inches. Cover your topsoil with up to 4 inches of soil amendments and mix them with the topsoil using a rototiller. Rake your soil into an even surface with a gradual slope away from your home.
Water your soil several days before applying sod. Never lay sod on damp ground.
Select a sod variety that is rated to your USDA Hardiness Zone. Warm-season sods such as Bermuda and zoycia should be selected for areas with very hot summers. Cool-season sods such as bluegrass and rye grass should be selected for cooler zones.
Stagger your sod as you lay each roll, just as you would if laying tile, brick or shingles by cutting sod into different lengths with a utility knife. Start at a straight edge such as a sidewalk, driveway or the side of your home and work outward. Roll over the sod with a sod roller to force the roots into contact with the soil.
Water your sod shallowly and frequently during the first 14 days to encourage grass to take root. The roots and soil should remain saturated. As a general rule, water between two and four times daily with at least ¼ inch of water each time. Place a rain gauge on the ground in the path of your sprinkler to determine how much water you have used.
Taper off watering once your grass roots become established. Eventually you should water with only 1 inch of water every 10 days.