Grass lawns provide groundcovers that protect against erosion and eliminate muddy, dusty conditions. Many homeowners and landscape professionals plant grass seed to establish lawns in yards and parks. Although seeding allows an inexpensive method of growing lawn grasses, laying sod provides immediate cover. Numerous small, grass plants make up individual sections of sod. Sod contains the mature plants, as well as a layer of soil near the roots. Like other varieties of transplants, growing sod requires proper preparation and ongoing care to create an attractive, healthy lawn.
Test the soil at your selected site before installing your sod. Like all plants, grass requires adequate levels of soil nutrients. Perform a soil test to determine the existing levels of nutrients and obtain recommendations for replenishing missing elements. Add the amendments recommended on your soil test results.
Remove any existing weeds, plants and groundcovers from your lawn site. Dig out weeds before they go to seed to reduce the possibility of future weed infestations in your lawn. Use a roto-tiller to dig out roots and turn the topsoil. Rake up any uprooted plants, rocks and debris.
Incorporate the amendments recommended in your test results by spreading them over your clean surface. Add some compost to hard, compact soils to increase the porosity of the soil. Go over the area with your roto-tiller, evenly mixing the soil with the amendments. Smooth the soil with your rake to provide a smooth, clean surface for your new sod.
Install your sod in the late summer to early fall. Begin laying your sod as soon as it arrives on your site. Start at one end of your yard and work your way to the opposite end, laying pieces of sod closely together. Soak your new sod after laying it. Tamp your sod with a sod tamper to press the root sections firmly against your soil.
Water your sod lawn every two or three days for the first couple of weeks. Apply about an inch of water during each session. Lift the corner of a piece of sod to check for moisture in the soil below the roots. Adjust the amount of water to maintain slight moisture at this level. After the sod resists lifting, normally about two to three weeks after installation, reduce the frequency of watering to provide about an inch of water every four to seven days.
Grow and maintain a healthy sod lawn by mowing it regularly. Begin mowing about a week after planting. Keep your sod lawn about 2 inches high. Use a mower with a sharp blade and leave the clippings on the lawn to decompose.