Even though sod comes to you growing in its own soil, you still have to prepare your yard to receive it. Many issues that can affect a seeded lawn, such as diseases, weeds and poor drainage can also damage or kill your new sod. Proper site preparation before planting sod can be time consuming, but you will be rewarded with a thick, healthy lawn which will fill in much faster than if you use seed.
Get a soil testing kit from your county's cooperative extension service. The soil test will check your soil's pH and composition to determine whether you need to add soil amendments before planting.
Kill the existing grass and weeds if you are going to start over and completely replace your lawn. A glyphosate herbicide will kill all of the vegetation in your yard.
Till the area you will be sodding and perform an initial grading to establish a 1 to 2 percent slope. This will allow water to run off the yard instead of standing in puddles and drowning the grass.
Install drainage in your yard if it still collects standing water.
Add soil amendments at this stage if your initial soil testing indicated that the soil needs them.
Spread grass fertilizer over the yard at the rate indicated on the label. Wait about a week to allow the fertilizer to break down, then till the area for the second time.
Install any sprinkler system, sidewalk and patio after the second tilling.
Rake the yard to obtain a smooth soil surface with a very fine composition to the top 1 to 2 inches of soil.
Finish preparing for your sod by performing a final grade. You should end with the surface of the graded area about 1 inch below any sidewalks, sprinklers or other structures to allow for the depth of the sod.