Grass pads, or sod, provide a lush, uniform green lawn without the wait time, unlike a seed-started lawn. They do, however, require plenty of preparation and care if they are to grow roots in the soil. For the best results, install the sod on the day of purchase so that the grass doesn't die. You can install sod from early spring through late fall and even winter in warmer climates. If you lay sod in the summer, do it in the morning to avoid the hot, drying sun.
Till the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. If the soil is heavy clay, mix in 2 or 3 inches of sand.
Apply a grass starter fertilizer to the soil, such as 24-25-4, in a thin, even layer with a broadcast spreader according to the manufacturer's instructions. Rake it into the soil to a depth of 1 inch and water it in. Wait one or two days before laying the sod so that the soil is still moist but not muddy.
Even out the soil with a rake to fill in any high or low spots, and ensure the soil is about 1 inch below any graded surfaces.
Moisten the sod before working if it feels dry. Sod breaks easily when dry, but don't completely saturate it with water. Handle it carefully to avoid breaking it.
Roll out the first row of sod along the edge of your yard or landscape, preferably next to a walkway if you have one. Lay the end of the next one up against the end of the first row, leaving no space between rows. Continue this until you reach the end of your yard. For the next row, stagger the ends so they look like a brick pattern. Cut the ends with a sharp knife to fit.
Pat down the sod with the back of the rake to prevent air pockets and smooth it out.
Water the sod until the soil is wet to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, using a sprinkler or garden hose with a shower attachment. Check the moisture level with a moisture meter probe or wire.