Laying sod is a fast approach to a new lawn without the wait for seeds to sprout. For sod to root and prosper, the soil must be adequately prepared. Most sod generally dies after placement because it is placed on soil that was unprepared for it. Taking these extra steps will protect the large investment you've made in the sod.
Kill the existing lawn. Apply an herbicide containing glyphosate to the entire area. Allow it to penetrate into the grass. Rototill the area once the grass has turned brown and died. This may take several days and an additional application of the herbicide. Continue to spray and rototill the area, removing all the dead matter and debris from the area.
Rototill the entire surface area where the sod will be laid, breaking all large clumps. The dirt should be loose and free of debris. Apply organic matter to the soil and rake it in with the metal rake. Smooth the surface of the soil with the rake, pulling away from houses and buildings. This will create a better drainage system and prevent water buildup around buildings.
Apply a starter fertilizer with a compost of 24-24-4 ratios. Fill the walk-behind spreader with fertilizer and walk in paths across the lawn area, spreading fertilizer over the entire surface area. Rake into the soil.
Lay sod according to the manufacturer's directions. Water well, soaking the entire piece of sod and the soil underneath. Continue to water two to three times daily. Check for root growth after one week. Pull one corner of the sod up to reveal white roots protruding from the sod. These roots will take hold in the soil in the coming weeks. Continue a watering pattern, keeping the soil and sod moist.