Turfgrass Installation


Establishing turfgrass from sod has many advantages over starting a new lawn from seed. Sod installation is quicker than seed and can be done any time of the year as long as there's no frost risk. Sod is a better choice for sloped areas, as water runoff will likely wash away seeds. For those with heavily shaded lawns, sod is not available in a wide variety of shade-tolerant grasses, and you may need to seed these areas instead.

Step 1

Apply a non-selective herbicide to the area. This will kill any weeds or unwanted grass. Follow the application instructions and wait two weeks before laying down sod.

Step 2

Perform a soil test on the area with a soil test kit. This will tell you the pH level in the soil, as well as the level of nutrients present. A good pH level for a lawn is 6.0 to 7.0.

Step 3

Spread a 4- to 6-inch layer of high-quality topsoil over the area with a shovel. Fill in any dips in the landscape and remove any bumps.

Step 4

Add any soil amendments needed, based on the results of the soil test. A sandy soil will benefit from a 2-inch layer of compost, while clay soil will be lightened by a 2-inch layer of peat. Add any materials needed to lower or raise the soil's pH.

Step 5

Work the topsoil and soil amendments into the soil with a rototiller to a depth of 4 inches.

Step 6

Grade and smooth the soil with a rake. Gently grade the soil to allow water to shed away from the house or garage. Ensure the surface of the soil is smooth for better sod placement.

Step 7

Lightly moisten the soil and begin to lay the turf grass. Lay the sod in horizontal rows, starting in a corner of the area, in a brick-like pattern. Sod laid on slopes should be staked in place, until the sod is established, to keep it from slipping.

Step 8

Fill any gaps between sod seams with soil to prevent air from drying out the root system underneath. Water the sod thoroughly.

Step 9

Roll the sod with a lawn roller the next day, once the sod has dried. This will remove air pockets under the sod.

Step 10

Irrigate the sod regularly. Provide 1 inch of water every second day for the first one to three weeks, or until the roots system has established.

Step 11

Decrease irrigation to 1 inch every four to seven days, to a depth of 4 inches. Keep this watering schedule for the next two to three months.

Step 12

Mow the grass after the sod is established. A height of 2 to 3 inches is recommended.

Step 13

Fertilize the sod with 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. A 2-1-1 fertilizer works well. This should be done only after the sod has been mowed for the first time.

Step 14

Aerate the lawn with an aerator the following spring or fall, after it is established. The holes should penetrate the sod down to the soil below.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not allow the sod to dry out while it is establishing a root system. Always keep it moist with regular watering.

Things You'll Need

  • Non-selective herbicide Soil test kit Topsoil Shovel Soil amendments Rototiller Rake Wooden stakes (optional) Lawn roller Nitrogen fertilizer Aerator


  • University of Rhode Island: Installing a Sod Lawn
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Seeding and Sodding Home Lawns

Who Can Help

  • University of Minnesota Extension: Lawns
Keywords: installing turf grass, laying sod, sodding a lawn

About this Author

Sophia Darby is a former professional hairstylist who has spent the last six years writing hair-related articles for both online and print publications. Her work has appeared in Celebrity Hairstyles Magazine, as well as multiple websites.