Sodding Lawns

How to sod a lawn


Sodding a lawn provides a speedy, although more costly alternative to seeding a lawn. Some refer to it as an "instant lawn." Sod farms in the northeastern United States predominantly grow Kentucky Bluegrass sod sold by "the yard." Kentucky Blue prefers sunny growing conditions, so you may want to consider seeding shady areas of your lawn with a shade mix instead. Annual core aeration in the Fall will help keep problematic thatch levels under control.

One square yard of sod is typically 18-inches wide by 6-feet long, which equals 9 square feet. To calculate how many yards of sod you need for a lawn area, find out the square footage and divide by 9.

One yard = Nine square feet of sod

Some sod basics

  • Sod is usually shipped on pallets of 50 yards each and most sod dealers charge a deposit on pallets to ensure their return.

  • Sod shouldn't be left stacked on pallets for more than a day or two, so it's best to have your lawn area ready for sodding in advance. Cover sod with lightweight mesh tarps if possible to protect it from the drying effects of sun and wind.

  • Lay sod pieces close together to avoid any gaps between pieces. Any exposed edges should be covered with topsoil to help prevent drying. Sod pieces should also be "bunched up" to ensure they aren't stretched out during the laying process -- stretched pieces shrink and create gaps between pieces of sod.

  • Thoroughly water-in newly laid sod as soon as possible, and continue watering often for the first few weeks until sod has "knitted down." If possible, use a lawn roller to roll your newly laid sod a few days after it's installed to remove any remaining air pockets and further ensure good sod to soil contact.

  • Since Kentucky Bluegrass is a thatch producer (as well as other grasses used for sod) be sure to core aerate sod the next year, and aereate once or twice a year every year after that.

How to install a sod lawn step-by-step:


Preparation for sodding

A sod cutter was used to remove this old lawn. Then screened topsoil was spread to fill-in low and uneven areas. Soil at pavement edges was left 1-inch lower than the pavement to allow for the thickness of the sod.


Ready for sod

Sprinkler heads were marked to avoid damage from the sod cutter and provide a visual guide for cutting holes in the sod. Orange marking paint was used to delineate the edge of shrub beds where the sod needs to be trimmed.


Sod delivery

Two pallets of sod (100 square yards) was enough to cover 900 square feet of lawn area. This sod was cut in 1/2-yard pieces, each one measuring 18-inches by 3-feet. Sod shouldn't be left stacked on pallets any longer than necessary.


First row of sod

Working from the top of the slope down, the first row of sod is laid. Close attention is given to butting-up sod edges snugly while not stretching the pieces. Joints between pieces of sod should be staggered like a brick wall. Fill any gaps with soil.


Trim to size

A sharp hatchet (or large knife) is used to cut the curved edges along shrub beds. These edges should be covered with topsoil or mulch to help prevent drying and browning.


Finished sod lawn

Thoroughly watered-in with more watering every day or two until the sod "knits down" to the soil and becomes established. Since most sod grasses are thatch producers, core aerate the lawn once or twice a year (Fall -or- Spring & Fall).