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How to Prepare the Ground to Lay Sod in Florida

By Joyce Starr ; Updated September 21, 2017
Growing sod in Florida requires proper preparation
green grass image by Christophe Fouquin from Fotolia.com

Whether you are laying sod in an area for the first time, or replenishing old with new, it will be necessary to prepare the ground in advance. Preparing the ground in Florida for sod installation is an uncomplicated process. Advance preparation of the area will assure the new sod will take root and grow vigorously, producing a healthy lawn. As with all regions of the country, it is important to first select a variety of sod that will do well in your area.

Remove any vegetation or weeds growing in the installation area. Dig or pull out large weeds by hand or with a shovel, being sure to remove the roots. Spray a weed- and grass-killing herbicide over the entire area to kill any low-growing weeds or wild grass. Do not water the area for at least 24 hours. After this time, water the ground to wash away the herbicide.

Rake up any dead grass or vegetation from the area using either a hard rake or a regular rake. Dig up sections of dead grass or big patches of weeds so the new sod will be able to make direct contact with the soil. Remove any sticks, large rocks or other debris from the planting site.

Add one bag of topsoil to each 3-square-foot section of soil. You want to end up with approximately a 2- to 3-inch layer of topsoil on top of the existing soil. Work the topsoil into the existing soil roughly 1 inch.

Level the planting site, filling in any large indentations in the soil with extra topsoil or ground soil. Rake the ground until it looks level so water will not pond up in low areas once the sod installation is complete.

Apply an all-purpose lawn fertilizer on top of the leveled topsoil. Apply per the rate instructions on the bag. Use only a lawn fertilizer and not a weed-and-feed variety, as it may injure the newly laid sod.

Water the ground well once you have applied the fertilizer. Water to a depth of 1 inch before installing the sod. Place a 1- to 2-inch tall container in the yard. Once it has filled to the inch level, the ground is watered enough. Install the sod as soon as possible.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Herbicide
  • Hard rake
  • Rake
  • Topsoil
  • Lawn fertilizer
  • Container


  • Always lay sod on moist soil, as it will help the roots develop more quickly and keep the sod pieces from drying out. Always lay sod as soon as possible so it does not dry out and die.
  • Water newly planted sod about twice a day for the first two to three weeks, depending on your local weather conditions.
  • Try to walk on newly laid sod as little as possible to allow it to take root.

About the Author


For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.