Wondering how to lay your own sod? Follow these 11 tips for DIY sod installation for a high-quality lawn on a do-it-yourself budget!
The yard was a big selling point for our current house (and also for us buying the house next door as well!) but we had a big garden area that we just weren’t using anymore. The area was overgrown with weeds, so we decided to replace the garden with grass. The fastest route to grass for playing Yardzee and our other favorite backyard games? Laying sod! And of course, being a Remodelaholic, I did it myself. Check out my former pro landscaper sod installation tips (and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more home and garden tips!)
DIY Sod Installation Tips and Tricks
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When it comes to laying your own sod, there are a few tips and tricks that will make your DIY sod install faster, easier, and more successful.
You’ll pay more for sod than for grass seed, but you’ll also get a usable lawn much faster. But, it’s all for naught if the sod dies or just doesn’t take well to the soil. So prepping the ground and laying the sod well is really important!
As a semi-pro who’s worked as a landscaper, run a yard maintenance business, and helped on a lot of sod laying for friends and neighbors, here are the tips I’ve picked up over the years.
How should I prepare the ground before laying sod?
Prepare the area well by removing anything else growing where you want to lay sod. A few small weeds might not make a difference, but I like to start with a fresh slate of bare dirt. Some people say you can lay sod over existing grass, but I prefer to give my lawn the best possible start.
I also remove any large rocks or other things that might prevent the sod roots from taking hold.
Improve the soil as needed, by adding peat moss, top soil, etc. (A local nursery or landscape company can help if you need suggestions for improving the soil before laying sod.)
Level the ground as well as you can. This helps the sod roots “take” well and also makes it so much nicer for mowing later. A large landscape rake is really helpful!
Just before laying the sod, you’ll want to moisten the section of dirt. This prevents the ground soil from leaching the moisture out of your lush sod pieces.
How much sod do I need to order?
Measure the area where you’ll be laying sod, then dust off your geometry skills to figure out how many square feet that area is. Then add 10% to the order size.
Why order additional sod? Because it’s always better to have a couple pieces more than you need than a couple pieces too few! Also, the extra 10% accounts for the cutting and trimming when the pieces of sod don’t fitting your plot exactly square, plus then you can choose the very best pieces of sod.
How do I lay the sod pieces?
As you can see in the video, each piece of sod has a sort of “grain” to the grass, where you can see the angle at which the sod was cut.
Lay the sod pieces at the same orientation every time. This means you’ll match up those cuts ends and unroll (or lay) the pieces in the same direction.
Keep the joints in each row tight. This will help the roots grow strong and help the grass grown really nicely.
From one row to the next, stagger the joints between pieces, but keep the rows tightly nestled together. Don’t leave any gaps or bare spots for weeds to grow in your nice freshly sodded lawn!
Can I lay sod by myself?
Short answer: Yes.
Longer answer: Yes, but just like our DIY concrete patio — it’s better with help! A lot of the work of laying sod is just the manual labor of moving the pieces from the pallet to the yard. As with any manual labor, many hands make light work. So buy a couple pizzas and call a buddy or two to come help — it’ll go faster and save you a few extra sore muscles the next day!
How long does it take to lay sod?
Depending on how many helping hands you have, you can sod an area very quickly. (See the previous question.)
I laid the 1200 square feet of sod in the video in about 4 hours with 2 of us working, but a friend laid an entire backyard of sod in around 90 minutes with a team of about 6 people.
So the time it takes to lay sod will depend on the team, their experience, and your attention to detail (see my tips above), but it’s generally doable in a half day or less — and you should lay the sod soon after it’s cut to avoid having to keep it moist.
When should I lay sod?
After sod is delivered (or picked up from the farm), it should be laid as soon as possible. Keep the sod moist but not soggy to ensure a healthy lawn after sodding.
Seasonally, sod can be laid anytime during the growing season for your area, but you’ll get the best results if you lay it in the spring or early fall when the daytime temperatures are more moderate.
How do I take care of sod after it’s laid?
Water your new sod well every day for 10 days after it’s laid. Then gradually taper the water to match the rest of your lawn. Keep in mind that you are training your sod (and the rest of your lawn) so watering longer and less frequently will help the sod to grow deep roots and be more drought-tolerant.
More yard tips and tricks:
- How to Mow Like a Pro
- How to Trim and Edge Your Lawn Like a Pro
- How to Use Bark Mulch For Weed Control
- How to Install a DIY Concrete Patio
- Free Printable Yard Work BINGO for Kids and Families