When sodding a new lawn, the preparation that will go into it is the same for seeding a new
lawn, sprigging, or getting it ready for grass seed, or sprigs. In the Sodding case, you are ready
for sod after you have prepared the ground. There really isn't any big secret to sodding, (green
side up) after you get the soil ready and you have called the sod company for your order you
are ready to start putting the sod down.
You will get the sod in 18" X 24" squares usually. Some companies still cut in small rolls that you
just roll out. We prefer the squares, you can grab one with each hand and walk to the spot and
throw them down. As long as the sod is good enough quality to stay together this works. And if
you have a tractor or skid steer, you can get sod in large rolls and just roll it out.
Big roll sod is the newest way of cutting and laying sod, it's faster and takes less labor, but you
do have to have the equipment to handle the large rolls, (tractor or skid steer, with an
attachment) and it does require some skill with equipment.
Sometimes you will get a load of sod that is very tender, not a good root system or wet and thin,
this sod will tear apart when your trying to pick it up off of the pallet and this makes for a very
long day. When laying sod start along the longest, straightest border you have, like a driveway,
sidewalk or the property line. Get your first row started straight and just follow it across the lawn.
Stagger each row of sod so the seams don't match up on each row. Lay what's called a "brick
bond" pattern. The sod should look like a wall of bricks after laid, with the joints of the sod falling
in the middle of the piece under it. Take care to get the joints of each piece butted up against
each other, it will make for a smoother surface once you are done.
Don't worry if there are some gaps here and there, they will fill in once the sod has a chance to
root down. Depending on the type of sod you use, the gaps will fill in completely within two weeks
to 6 weeks. Bermuda grass and Zoysia Grass in our area of West Tennessee, Henry county, are
warm season grasses that spread by rhizomes, stolons or both. These grasses will fill in the
gaps even if they are up to 1 or 2" wide. You don't want gaps that wide, but if you have one or
two don't worry about it. Fescue grass doesn't spread, so you need to be more careful on your
seams and get it tight.
After all the sod is laid in the main field of the lawn, start cutting small pieces and fill in around
the edges and if there were any pieces of sod that were missing a large hole in the middle of it,
patch those. You will always have a few pieces of sod that are kind of trashy, fall apart or are
real thin with holes, it's normal. Just take some pieces of the torn up sod and put them in the
holes. Step on them to get them in good contact with the soil and move on. Everything does not
have to be perfect, and the lawn will look kind of ragged when you get done laying the sod.
Pieces of the sod will be sticking up, some different colors than others, some sod might even be
cut shorter than other pieces. All of this doesn't matter now, in a couple of weeks all of it will grow
in and be beautiful!
When you are completely done and have all the scrap pieces of sod picked up you will be ready
to roll the sod. This will press down all of the uneven pieces and give the roots a good pressing
into the soil. A pull or push walk behind type roller works fine. They will give you a good workout,
and sometimes takes two people to push the thing. It depends on what type of grade you have,
and how steep your lawn is. You can use the kind that hooks to a larger lawn mower, just be
sure you don't have a sloped lawn. The tires might start spinning on the loose sod and tear out
some of your hard work. If you don't have access to a roller, don't worry about it, the grass will
even out after a few weeks of growing and mowing.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your new
grass watered. New sod has a short shelf life. Fescue,
Bluegrass, and Ryegrass are going to be the most tender. I
suggest start laying your sod and as you get a section done
large enough to water, go ahead and water it. Even if it's only
a spraying from a water hose spray nozzle, get some water on
it and keep it from turning yellow and even dying off.
After the grass is completely laid and you have rolled it, if your
going to, start watering. Don't wait two days for it to rain, it will
be too late, water right now and get all of the sod wet just as
soon as you can, within 8 hrs at the most. Get all the sod wet
and then go back and start watering again, this time soak it
deep. Water until you have puddles forming and water running
At this point you have the first watering done. Don't let the sod
dry out! Don't think that watering once is going to be enough.
If you let the sod dry out even once, it can kill Fescue Sod.
Bermuda and Zoysia are much tougher and can take getting
dry once or twice without dieing, they will yellow off or even
turn brown but won't die.
For the next several weeks you will have to watch the grass
and see how it is doing daily, you may need to water every
day, or skip a couple days, it will depend on how much rain
you get, how much sun, cloudy, hot, dry, winter, summer, etc.
Just use common sense and water if you need to.
Mowing will need to be done in about 2 or 3 weeks. Set your
mower deck up high around 3" and just barely cut the tops off
the grass the first time. Be sure and back off on the watering
before you mow, so you don't put ruts in the lawn or even tear
out chunks of sod. Be sure you have a sharp blade also, dull
worn out blades will cause the grass to tear instead of cut
leaving a brown haze across the lawn. Clean cuts are given
with sharp blades and sharp blades won't pull the new grass
out of the ground. Also, the grass will have a brown haze with
After about a month of regular watering, you can slow down on
how often you water, water longer at each watering, but only
once or twice a week. This encourages deep rooting instead
of shallow rooting. The grass roots will follow the depth of the
moisture, deeper water means deeper roots. Look at our page
on Irrigation Systems for more detailed information on
watering. The main thing in the early days of new sod is to
Keep It Wet!! Good luck with your new sod and email us if you
have any questions! E Mail Questions Here
LawnMasters Lawn and Landscape
Paris-Puryear, TN 731.642.2876 888.664.LAWN
A newly sodded lawn around a swimming pool, Zoysia sod. This was
large roll sod, each strip is 21 inches wide, two of them are together
on a roll and rolled out with a machine. Within a couple weeks this
will green up and the seams will grow together, with proper watering