Sod is farmed, seeded grass grown to maturity, cut and rolled into strips and then sold. Although it costs more than seeding, sod gives a homeowner an instant lawn. There are a few important points to keep in mind to ensure the success of newly laid sod, so that the roots establish themselves and its grows lush and thick.
Lay sod as soon as it is delivered to the planting site. Lay the sod in a straight line, along a driveway or walkway. Do not overlap edges. Stagger adjacent rows, and lay edges of such strips flush against one another. Store sod rolls in a cool, dry spot, away from direct sunlight, and mist frequently if immediate installation is not possible.
Rent a lawn roller and run it over the newly laid sod to encourage good roots-to-soil contact. Rolling also removes any air pockets in the laid sod that could prevent the roots from establishing themselves.
The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension states watering the newly laid sod within 20 minutes of installation. Water the sod everyday for the first three weeks, ensuring it receives 1-inch of water. Place a container or coffee can over the sod when sprinklers are on and note the amount of time it takes to fill it to the 1-inch mark. After that, taper watering to twice a week for up to three weeks, and then down to once a week during the season. Increase frequency of watering during hot, dry and humid conditions.
Do not fertilize the planting site prior to laying sod. If at all, apply organic fertilizer such as well-rotted manure, compost or peat moss. According to the Purdue University Turfgrass Science Program, fertilize new sod four weeks after installing it. Apply 1 lb. of nitrogen-rich fertilizer to every 1,000 square-foot area. Keep in mind that watering the lawn prior to fertilizer application causes grass blades to burn. If at all, water after fertilizing the sod. Once the roots establish themselves, fertilize the sod twice a year, in spring and fall.
The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension states mowing the new sod a week after installing it. But do this only if the roots are well established. Test for resistance by pulling a corner of the sod from the soil. Delay mowing if the plucked sod comes out of the soil easily. Set your lawn mower on the highest setting when mowing for the first time, and do not remove more than 1/3 of the blade length.