Laying down sod can be a full-yard treatment in a new landscaping venture, or may just be a patching job to replace dead or dying turf. You also may need sod to replace areas of the yard damaged by road salt or snowplowing. In Ohio, adding sod to a lawn can be done any time in the spring or summer after the ground thaws, and can still be done into the fall before the ground freezes. Be sure any sod you have laid down is free of weeds, and the area sodded is free of stones, sticks, old sod and other debris. Once the sod is placed, there are some basics you should apply to take the best care of your new sod.
Press the newly laid sod down with a turf roller. This doesn’t have to be done with force; the idea is just to be sure the sod and soil underneath are in close contact, and there are no hills or ridges formed at the junctures of sod pieces.
Water immediately. Water is crucial to rooting, and should be provided amply to new sod. Soak the sod well the first time, and be sure the sod stays moist daily for two weeks, until the sod is well rooted. Since Ohio summers can be dry, you may save yourself some money on the water bill if you schedule the placement of new sod for spring or fall, when there is more reliable rain.
Apply a slow-release granular fertilizer to the new sod with plenty of water to help it sink in and prevent fertilizer burn. The two most common sod grasses available in Ohio are Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue. If you have mostly bluegrass, use a high-nitrogen fertilizer to keep it growing, and if your sod is mainly fescue, use a balanced fertilizer.
Add compost in the fall. If the sod is struggling on hard or poor soil, it is still possible to topdress the sod with compost. Apply compost in a thin layer, about half of a cubic yard per 1,000 square feet. In Ohio, the best time to do this is September, to help the sod increase root growth for the winter. Another application in November will help cover and fertilize the lawn before the snow falls.
Aerate if needed in the fall. Ohio residents often have to deal with hard, clay soils that benefit from fall aeration. If you aerate the lawn after applying compost, pulling up soil cores to the top of the lawn, this will help mix in the compost even better for good growth the following spring. This is usually done with a mechanical lawn aerator, available at home improvement and garden stores.