Soil Preparation for Sod Installation


Sod is simply grass that is sold in strips so it can be placed on the lawn like a carpet. The idea behind sod is that the roots come in contact with the soil and attach themselves, allowing the sod to thrive as a healthy lawn. But for sod roots to attach to a lawn, the ground below the soil must first be prepared so that the roots will thrive.

Step 1

Test your soil several months before laying sod. Most universities with agriculture colleges attached to them maintain soil-testing facilities in conjunction with their community and continuing education programs. By contacting an agent with your county extension service, you will receive instructions on the preferred method of taking and submitting soil samples.

Step 2

Purchase soil amendments based on the results of the test in Step 1. The most common soil amendments for improving a lawn include compost, manure, peat moss, nitrogen-based fertilizer and lime to raise the pH of soil.

Step 3

Remove any existing lawn by passing a sod cutter over the lawn. A sod cutter removes grass in strips below the root level. You can rent a sod cutter at many garden stores.

Step 4

Break up your soil to a depth of 8 inches by pushing a rototiller over the soil. Spread your soil amendments over the soil to a depth of 4 inches. Mix the soil amendments into the soil by passing the rototiller over the soil again.

Step 5

Smooth out the soil and regrade it with a landscaping rake. Your yard should slope gently away from the home to channel away water from your foundation.

Step 6

Water your soil 24 hours before laying sod.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Manure
  • Peat moss
  • Fertilizer
  • Lime
  • Rototiller
  • Sod cutter
  • Landscaping rake
  • Garden hose


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Seeding and Sodding Home Lawns
  • University of Arkansas Extension: Establishing a Lawn From Sod
  • University of Idaho: Establishing a Lawn

Who Can Help

  • University of Missori Extension: Establishment and Care of Zoysia Lawns
Keywords: preparing soil, amending soil, laying sod

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."