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Putting In A Sod Lawn

by Gabby Hyman
Repair-Home Columnist

For many, the very notion of installing a new sod lawn as a home improvement project can seem overwhelming. That's why lawn contractors are in business. You can successfully put down a new lawn, however, if you do your research, are capable of doing a little strenuous physical labor, and are committed to seeing your project through.

The critical steps to successfully install new sod are:

  • Evaluate grass types for your climate
  • Test your soils
  • Prepare your grading and drainage
  • Keep the sod moist as you lay it down and water it consistently until the lawn takes hold

Ask the Lawn Experts

Begin planning by asking a lawn contractor or sod expert at a lawn and garden shop about grass types that do well in your climate. It helps to know the kind of traffic you expect on the lawn, whether the area is shaded or dappled, and the range of temperatures for your region. For example, if you have mild winters, choose a warm-season sod of St. Augustine, Bermuda, or Zoysia grass. For cold climates, cool-season grasses include fescues, ryegrass, bluegrass, and bentgrass.

A great source of information about grass types and soils in your area is the local university extension office. Many will test your soil's pH and nutrient levels for a nominal fee. While you're awaiting your soil results, plan on zapping existing weeds in your existing turf with systemic killer from a home improvement store. If you need to increase the pH, add limestone, available from your home and garden shop. You can mix it right into your soil with a starter fertilizer (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio mixture of 3-4-1 or 1-2-1).

Putting Down the Sod

Late summer or early fall, when the scorching temperatures die down, is the best time to put in a new sod lawn. If you're satisfied with the finish grading and have added additional sprinkler or drainage systems, then it's time to fine-rake out the surface to eliminate any mounds or clumps of soil.

Get help if you need it. Two or three people can lay down sod faster than a single ambitious homeowner can. Moisten the soil before putting down the sod. Use only moist pieces of sod, tossing aside any that have browned or dried out. Start at a straight-edged section along a sidewalk or driveway and spread out in straight rows, with each piece butting up against its neighbor.

Give the new sod at least an inch of water immediately and water it daily for at least two weeks.

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.