Is it time to start fresh with a whole new lawn? Are there spots on your lawn that need major repairs? Whether you’re renovating your landscaping, or you’re establishing a lawn around new construction, sod is the fastest way to restore your grass. However, if it isn’t done right, you could throw a lot of money down the drain. Here are steps you can take to get the best results, from cutting away old grass to getting the sod to take root.
Now is the best time to find nutrient imbalances, so you can add fertilizers and amendments when you have open soil. Sod needs the same soil conditions as regular grass, except for pH. The new grass will get a better foothold in soil that is neutral or slightly acidic. Aim for a pH between 6 and 7.5. Expect at least a two-week wait between sending in your soil sample and getting results.
Selecting and Ordering Sod
Choosing the right sod is no different than choosing the right seed for your lawn. Look for grass varieties that work best in your climate and match any existing grass left on your yard. Usually, you will have to pay more for new varieties, but these grasses will be more tolerant of insects, droughts and other issues.
For the best results, sod needs to be installed within 8 hours of harvesting. Depending on your schedule, you’ll either want to give yourself an extra day before delivery to prepare the soil or have the soil fully prepared ahead of time. If your delivery is too early, shade the sod and keep it moist until you’re ready for installation.
Order at least 5% more sod than you will need for full coverage of your lawn. This compensates for sod that will be cut out to accommodate curbs.
Getting the Soil Ready
Wet down the soil to make it easy to work. It should be moist, but not muddy. You want to make it easy for equipment to cut soil in large chunks.
Use a sod cutter to remove the existing turf. Cutting at least an inch below the surface level should remove the grass down to the roots. This gives you a level surface to lay down the sod, and the new grass won’t need to push through the root system of the old grass. Both the SC121H and Next Gen cutters will work, but the Next Gen will be considerably faster.
Use a tiller to turn the top four inches of the remaining soil. This loosens the dirt, making it easier for new roots to take hold and bind to your lawn. If you need to make adjustments to soil nutrients, add amendments as you’re tilling to work them in.
Use the back of a metal rake to smooth down the soil surface. When you’re done, you should have a flat surface that is about one inch lower than the surrounding curbs and pavement. Lightly water the surface of the soil to remoisten it.
Laying Down Your New Sod
While laying down your new grass, you need to prevent soil compaction. Use a kneeling pad or board to spread out your weight, and go over footprints with a rake.
Start rolling out sod on the longest straight section of your yard. This is usually next to a fence or building. As you lay down each section, smooth out the soil to remove any wrinkles that may interfere with ground contact.
When you start the next section, start with a half roll of sod. Using a short section offsets the seams at the ends of the rolls. This decreases the chance of having the sod roll up before taking root. Be sure to cut holes for curbs, sprinklers, and other landscape features. This helps the sod lay flat without covering these objects.
Once all the sod is down, use a lawn roller to eliminate any gaps between the sections. Roll over your lawn going up and down then left to right, or vice versa. You know you have good ground contact when you can walk across your lawn without your feet sinking into the soil. Keep the ground moist and avoid foot and vehicle traffic for the next month. The seams will disappear, and you can return to normal lawn care.
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