How to Plant Sod or Grass Seed

Overview

There are two ways to plant grass--by sod and by seed. Sod is the fastest method because the grass is already rooted into soil. Grass seed, however, requires time for germination. On the flip side, though, sod is much more expensive than seed. Whichever method you choose, it is essential to properly prepare the soil. If you don't, the grass will not root well and will die off.

Grass Seed

Step 1

Clear weeds and other debris to prepare the planting area. Break up soil clumps that are larger than 1 inch in diameter. Till the area 4 to 6 inches deep until the soil is loose.

Step 2

Add topsoil to lower-lying areas to level the planting area. If there are dips, water may gather and wash away the grass seed. Mix the topsoil in and rake it smooth.

Step 3

Improve the nutrients in the soil with sand and compost. This will also make the soil drain better. Lay down 1 inch of each nutrient and rototill it into the top inch of soil.

Step 4

Spread a starter fertilizer that is high in phosphorus. Set a broadcast spreader to the rate indicated on the packaging.

Step 5

Spread grass seed evenly with a hand or mechanical spreader, depending on the size of the lawn you're planting. Mix the seed gently into the top of the soil mixture with the back of a rake.

Step 6

Water the area with a sprinkler set to an oscillating setting. Let the water run for 5 to 10 minutes twice or three times a day. Do this for the first 10 days. When the seed roots and you see sprouts, reduce watering to once a day for 15 to 30 minutes.

Sod

Step 1

Prepare the area by removing debris and raking until smooth. Run a rototiller over the soil to loosen it.

Step 2

Apply a starter fertilizer with a 2-1-1 nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio. Water until moist so the fertilizer can penetrate the soil.

Step 3

Lay down a row of sod along the outer edge of the planting area. Put the strips as close together as possible to eliminate lines and gaps. Make your way to the opposite edge of the lawn, using as many full strips as possible.

Step 4

Cut pieces of sod with a sharp blade to fit irregular spaces. In corners, overlap the sod over the border and trim off the excess later.

Step 5

Run a half-full roller over the established sod. Water the sod so the top 6 to 8 inches are moist.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not water the grass in the evening because of the risk of fungal diseases. Stay off the lawn until it becomes established.

Things You'll Need

  • Rototiller
  • Rake
  • Soil
  • Sand
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Grass seed
  • Mechanical or hand spreader
  • Water
  • Sod
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Fertilizer
  • Blade
  • Roller

References

  • Yardcare.com: Building a Lawn
  • Texas A&M University: Turfgrass Establishment
  • Organic Approach: Guide for New Lawns
  • Spring-Green: Lawn Seeding Tips
  • This Old House: How to Seed a Lawn
Keywords: plant grass seed, plant sod, sod and seed

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than 10 years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.