Sod is a semi-mature lawn grass sold in rolled sheets at larger garden centers. It is designed to repair damaged lawns or to quick-start yards without lawns. Sod is grown in fields and cut with special machines to a uniform 1 1/2 to 2 inches (soil depth). The grass is usually 2 to 3 inches in height. Each sod sheet is rectangular and the manufacturer will often roll the sod to keep it as moist as possible between when it is cut in the field and installed as a lawn.
Remove all weeds and plant material from the area where you want to install sod. Turn your soil over at a 4- to 6-inch depth and remove any large clumps of clay or stone.
Work in 50 lbs. of dolomitic limestone per 1,000 square feet of yard. Add a phosphorous-rich starter fertilizer that will contribute 1 lb. of nitrate per 1,000 square feet of yard. Mix these enhancements into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil. Add other organic matter if you have poor quality soil.
Rake your soil until it has a fine grain appearance. Correct for any drainage problems in your yard. Remember to lower the grade on your finished soil to accommodate the addition of dirt that comes with the sod. Your raked soil grade should be at least 1 inch below the true soil height.
Select and purchase fresh sod. Don't bring it home or have it delivered until you are ready to use it. Place the sod in a shady location. The sod should be green and moist. If the grass is wilted or brown don't install it. Return it for fresh sod.
Lay the sod along the hardscape first. Hardscape includes permanent concrete fixtures like driveways, sidewalks, patios and porches. Position the sod at the most visible corner and work your way toward the fence line. Place your first piece along the hardscape and trim as necessary with a garden knife. Press the sod into good, deep contact with the underlying soil. Tuck the edges down.
Place your second piece with short ends together. Work the ends together tightly and press the sod into position. There should be no gap between sod sheets. Fill in your first row. Use a piece of plywood scrap if you need to rest your knees on soft dirt or sod to prevent leaving big dents. Start your second row so that the seams of the first row are offset (running brick design). Your second row will often start with half a piece of sod.
Once your sod is in place, make sure there are no air pockets and that all sod is in good contact with soil. Add a small perimeter caution tape to keep people off the grass. Water the grass to 6 to 8 inches deep. Try not to walk on the grass for three weeks.