Compared with growing a lawn from seed, laying sod squares has several advantages. The first one is time: you can enjoy your new lawn much more quickly than if you waited for the grass to grow in. The other is quality; you don’t have to worry about all the steps necessary to successfully grow a lawn from seed. The nursery or sod farm has done that for you. But there are guidelines to follow when laying sod to ensure you will get the beautiful lawn you envisioned.
Keep the Sod Healthy
After the sod is delivered on pallets, there may be a delay of a few days before you begin installation. Warm temperatures, and exposure to sunlight and wind can quickly dry out the sod. Keep a tarp or other covering over the sod or preferably store it in the shade. Check the sod for evidence of dryness and spray water on the exposed edges.
Prepare the Soil
You may want to add soil amendments to the site before laying the sod. Make sure the amendment is tilled deeply into the existing soil rather than just layering it. Remove all the rocks you can from the surface and make the area as smooth as possible. You may want to water down the prepared soil before installing the sod, but don’t let it get so wet that the sod sinks down in places. Unless you are laying the sod on a hilly surface, your goal is to make the area level.
Do a Site Plan
Just as with laying tile, you need to think about placement of the sod on the site. The longer side of each sod piece is placed to run down the long side of the site. You want to run the sod as straight as possible. Center a line of string on the site to guide you, or use a straight surface such as the sidewalk as a frame of reference. Ensure that on all sides and ends of your site, the last sod strips are at least 6 inches wide. Smaller strips tend to dry out and die, or fail to knit with the adjoining strips.
Fit the Sod Pieces Together
Think of a block wall and how each block in the second row is placed between the two blocks below it for added strength. Staggering the sod pieces the same way helps them join together more quickly. The edges of each piece should be curved downward slightly as they are placed in. Upturned edges do not join together as well. For the pieces you have to cut to fit into irregular areas, use a sharp knife so the edge is as uniform as possible.
Rolling Helps Promote Rooting
Roll the sod after laying it. Roll the sod lengthwise, then in the other direction. The edges of the sod pieces are pushed together through rolling--which will prevent drying--and the bottom of the pieces are pushed into the soil bed, which helps the sod to take root.
Keep to a Watering Schedule
For the first two weeks after laying the sod, water it three or four times each day for short periods of time. You do not want to water so much that the sod becomes soaked and muddy. Test the sod for signs that it is knitting together. When you see it becoming more difficult to pull up, you can reduce the watering to once per day, increasing the length of time you water. As the lawn continues to take root, go on the normal watering schedule you would for a finished lawn depending on the time of year and your climate.