Laying sod is one of the most basic jobs of a professional landscaper, and something a DIY landscaper/homeowner attempts regularly. It seems so simple. You get a pallet of rolled up grass (not that kind of rolled up grass!) and you simply lay it out and voila! New beautiful lawn!
Not so fast…there’s actually a lot more to laying new sod to ensure it looks beautiful and last a long time. For starters, you’re going to need a few tools and materials in addition to the sod itself:
So before you buy your sod, the first thing you want to do is test your soil with a moisture meter and pH tester. Ideally, you’re looking for well aerated soil a touch on the acidic side, say 6.5pH (7pH is neutral).
Next, you’ll want to measure out the area you want to treat, ensuring to account for extra pieces you may need to fill some gaps. At this point, you’ll use your rototiller to dig up the ground approximately 6-8 inches. Here you’ll want to till in about 2 inches of organic matter (fertilizer to lower pH or lime to raise pH depending on test results). Doing so will also be sure to help with your aeration and water retention; two elements vital to a healthy lawn.
If your pH is good from the get go and you choose not to add this organic matter, you’ll still need to dig down a couple inches with a shovel or rake and level the area so that when you lay your sod, it is level with surrounding lawn, driveway, walkways, etc. Once the area is level, you’ll want to thoroughly water the area no less than 48 hours before laying the sod.
At this point, it’s time to lay your sod. Try to be ready for this step soon after delivery as sod can degrade relatively quickly if left on a pallet in the sun for a day or two.
When you lay the sod, lay each section end to end and try not to step on the fresh sod. If you do, gently rake it out. Once you have laid it out all the way to the end of your section, use a carpet knife to cut the next piece I half. This allows you to stagger the next row as you would if you were laying bricks. If you have any small pieces of sod, use them to cover up any exposed dirt, but don’t use them on edges preferably as they have a tendency to shrink and potentially die. Use your edger to cut curves, and your carpet knife to cut around irrigation heads, for example.
Then, fill in any seams with soil and use your broom to brush it into the seams but be careful not to lift up loose turf edges. Finally, use your lawn roller to push in those sod roots into the underlying soil. Now you’re done!!
Well…not quite. Proper maintenance in this crucial stage is vital to the longevity of your lawn.
First things first, our friends and professional nanaimo landscapers advise us to water your sod liberally 3 times a day at first but cut back if you notice mushrooms starting to sprout. This can be mitigated by not watering when the sun goes down.
Then taper off your watering to just twice a week and eventually give it a mow preferably with a push mower being careful to leave minimal clippings behind. Use a good starter fertilizer after 3-4 weeks to ensure you’re replacing nutrients lost to heavy watering.
Whether you decide to do all this yourself, or hire a pro, it will always be your job to keep the kids and the dogs off the lawn in these initial stages. Quite possibly the most difficult step! Go forth and good luck grasshopper (pun intended).