Laying sod can be a significant time and money investment. By getting it right the first time you will save time, money, and headaches in the future. Check out top tips from our experts below and get your project rolling in no time.
- What is the best time of year to lay sod?
- How to calculate how much sod your project needs
- Preparing your site for sod installation
- Steps to laying sod: DIY or hire a professional?
- New sod care tips including summer installations
What Is the Best Time of the Year to Lay Sod?
You can lay sod anytime during the growing season, as long as the ground is not frozen and you have adequate water for establishment and maintenance, although spring and early autumn are best. Cool temperatures combined with occasional rain help sod quickly root. However, if you are installing during the summer, you’ll need to take certain precautions, such as watering deeply, adjust your fertilizing times, and watch for fungal growth.
Calculate How Much Sod Your Project Needs
So you’re ready to order your sod, but do you know how much you will need? To calculate how much sod to order, follow these simple steps below:
- Sketch the area to be sodded. Divide the space into squares, rectangles, triangles, and circles.
- Measure each area (length x width) and calculate square footage.
- Total all the measurements using our easy sod calculator, adding 5-10% for cutting and shaping around your landscape.
Alternatively, you can use a GPS service and walk the area you want to measure using your smartphone and calculate your total square feet. Check out NoMessGPS.com for an easy-to-use GPS area calculator.
Save yourself time and money: Measure twice, order once!
Prepare the Site for Sod Installation
Now that you know how much sod you need and have placed your order, it’s time to prepare for the sod installation. Proper site preparation is a key component to success, additionally, your site should essentially be prepared the same, regardless of how you choose to establish your lawn. We’ve included this cheat sheet to set up your site:
- Clear the site of all building materials (wood, cement, bricks, etc.), as well as any buried stumps, rocks, stones, or other debris larger than 2-3 inches in diameter.
- Rough grade the area to eliminate any drainage problems. Be sure to slope the grade away from building foundations, reduce severe slopes and fill in low-lying areas.
- Initial tilling of the soil should be completed, to a depth of at least 2 inches, before adding any soil amendments. Till to a depth of 4-6 inches if new topsoil will not be added.
- Add good quality topsoil to achieve a total depth of 4-6 inches after firming. We suggest BigYellowBag Black Garden Soil – delivery available within zones.
- Test your soil pH by taking a soil sample to your local Garden Center or county Cooperative Extension office. Depending on the pH level, amendments can be added to improve the soil, working them into the top 3-4 inches of soil.
- Finish grade the entire site, maintaining the rough grading contours and slopes. The final grade should be approximately ¾” below driveways and sidewalks.
- Apply “starter” fertilizer, such as 18-23-12 (N-P-K) or a similar ratio, at the recommended rate. The middle number, Phosphorus, encourages root growth. Ideally, rake the fertilizer into the top 1-2 inches.
- If your soil is loose and fluffy, you may want to roll the area with a lawn roller to settle the surface. Fill in any low spots. If time permits, allow the site to settle further with rainfall or by applying irrigation. Avoid watering the bare soil just prior to installing sod, as it may make the side difficult to work.
Steps to Laying Sod: DIY or Hire a Professional?
Did you know there’s a proper way to lay sod for optimal growth and appearance? Follow the steps below to install your sod the correct way.
- Install your sod immediately after delivery. Depending on how hot and humid the weather is, rolled sod may heat up and begin to ferment.
To establish your first row of sod, start at a straight edge like a walkway or driveway.
- Begin by laying the sod in a brickwork fashion, smoothing the soil in advance of sod laying. Make sure the joints are butted together snugly without overlapping. If laying sod on slopes, lay the slabs perpendicular to the hill.
- Use a sharp knife to cut and shape sod around curves, trees, and borders.
- If available, you can roll installed sod with a light roller one-third filled with water to smooth out any minor bumps, remove air pockets, and improve sod-to-soil contact. Avoid using a heavy roller that will compact the site.
Don’t want to or can’t install your new sod yourself? Saratoga Sod Farm can help! We offer professional sod installation within our delivery zones in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York State from April through December. Request a Sod Installation Estimate or give us a call at 518.664.5038.
Tips for New Sod Care Including Summer Installations
#1: Watering – begin watering newly laid sod immediately after installation, then follow the tips below. If you have a larger area, do not wait until the end of the day to begin watering. Once a section is completed, water it thoroughly.
- When installing sod, you are transplanting a live plant. Water initially deeply and thoroughly.
- Continue watering new sod at least twice per day, in the morning and afternoon, for the first few weeks, until the sod is firmly rooted. Thorough, deep watering is best until the soil is saturated but not puddling.
- Morning is ideal with lower wind speeds, and less water is lost to evaporation. Watering in the evening/overnight is discouraged, especially in hot humid weather as water remaining on the grass can promote disease and fungus.
- Within a few weeks, when the sod has started rooting into the soil, you will not have to water it as much. After the sod is well established (typically several weeks after installation), irrigating deeply and infrequently encourages roots to grow deep, making the turf more tolerant to drought.
#2: Mowing – your new sod can be mowed when it looks like it needs mowing, approximately one to two weeks after installation, depending on time of year. Be sure to follow these guidelines:
- When possible, use a walk-behind power mower with the cutting height set high, at least 3 inches. Do not use a riding mower as it is too heavy, and its powered wheels can tear up the new sod. Be sure the ground/grass is not too wet.
- After the sod has fully rooted (approximately three weeks), regular mowing can commence. For best results, never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade per mowing and maintain sharp mower blades. Keep a height of cut of at least 3” during hot weather, and stay off the grass if it is dry and stressed.
- Cutting frequency will need to be increased during the faster growing seasons of spring and fall. Grass clippings may be left on the lawn to return nutrients to the root zone, as long as they are light and don’t clump.
#3: Fertilization – to ensure that your turf remains healthy, feed your lawn 3-4 times during the growing season.
- A slow-release or controlled-release form of Nitrogen should be used whenever possible, especially on the spring and fall applications.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and ultimately “water-in” fertilizer after each application.
Saratoga Sod Farm is a proud grower, supplier, and installer of high-quality natural turfgrass sod to commercial and residential clients in NY & the Northeast. Get in touch with us today regarding pricing, installation services, or any questions about sod!