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Install a Sod Lawn in Six Simple Steps

If you are in a new home, or if you are replacing a problem lawn, sod is by far the fastest way to begin enjoying your lawn. The most difficult part of installing sod is the ground preparation--it is also the most important part, because it will ensure a smooth, level lawn. Here is how to turn a dirt patch into a beautiful lawn.

1. Measure the area so you will know how many square feet of sod to order. Then get quotes from local sod farms, who will grow a type of grass that grows best in your area. Order your sod and arrange for pickup or delivery. Sod usually comes in rolls, but may be in the form of squares.

2. Prepare the ground. It should be rototilled and leveled, and any rocks removed. Use a landscape rake for the main area, and a flat shovel to taper the slope near sidewalks, curbs, and driveways. Remove any rocks you find. If you plan to use an automatic sprinkler system, now is the time to install it. Before laying the sod, be sure to mark sprinkler heads with flags so they don't get covered up. Finally, spread a starter fertilizer over the entire area where the sod will be installed.

3. When the sod arrives on site, begin laying it at one edge of the lawn area. Begin laying as soon as possible to prevent the sod from drying out. Lay one full row before you start on the next. If the area is sloped, lay the rows perpendicular to the slope.

4. Cut one roll in half and start the second row. This will stagger the seams at the ends of each roll, much like laying a course of bricks. Continue this process until the entire lawn area is covered. Trim pieces on the ends to match the shape of the area.

5. Using a lawn roller (available at an equipment rental or home improvement store), roll the entire lawn area to compact the seams and level out any high spots.

6. Water the entire lawn area, making sure the sod gets soaked through. Use the sprinkler system if you have installed one. If not, make sure you get good coverage with whatever sprinklers you use.

Continue watering heavily at least once a day for two weeks. After two weeks, mow the lawn, using a higher than normal mower setting. After that, use a normal watering and mowing schedule.