Sod provides an instant lawn where there was nothing before, such as in an area of desert sand. However, just because the sod can be laid like a piece of carpet, it does not mean that the roots will grab the soil and continue to grow unless some preparation work is applied to the existing soil. You can have a lush green lawn in the middle of the desert after you apply a few principles. You'll also need an irrigation system installed before you lay the sod.
Prepare the soil where you wish to plant your sod. If you think of the sod as a plant that needs to be planted in soil and then watered and fertilized, you will realize that you have some work to do for a whole mat of plants to survive. Since a desert is mostly sand, lay a layer of topsoil with a good amount of organic matter in it to hold the water for the roots. Plan on a layer at least 6 inches thick since it will settle after you distribute it.
Grade the area so that it is all smoothed out and there are no low areas where puddles can form. Remove any rocks or sticks. Larger areas may require you to hire a contractor to do the soil preparation since it takes so much work to smooth out soil. Adjust your sprinkler heads for the new height.
Water the new layer of topsoil with about an inch of water and then let it settle in. You do not want to wash away the soil -- just wet it. Water it every day until you have the sod delivered. Hold off watering on the day of planting until after the sod has been put in place so you are not working in a muddy environment.
Lay the sod in the normal fashion as for any other lawn, one piece tightly up against the other with the seams across the rows never matching. Use a sharp blade to cut the sod around the sprinkler heads, and things like mailboxes, landscape beds and driveways or pathways.
Roll over the sod with a weighted roller. Rent them from your local home improvement store and they will help smooth out the sod, giving it good soil contact as well as evening out any raised areas.