Tips For How to Install and Maintain Sod

Sod Installation Tips and Information

Soil 

Know your foundation

Understanding the acidity of your soil can help you to decide which type of sod you want to use and if you need to do any additional prep work before laying sod. Most turf grasses work well in soil with a pH that is slightly acidic, generally between 6 and 7.5. You can take a small sample of soil and send it in to a local testing site to find out how your earth ranks.

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Measure

Measure twice, lay once

It’s generally best practice to order 5-10% more sod than the size of your property, allowing you to work around curves and other unique areas. 

Sunlight

The dark side of your lawn

Knowing how much direct sunlight hits your lawn will help inform your decision on which type of sod to purchase. Whether you have a lot of tree shade or your grass is completely exposed to the Texas sun can have a massive impact on the success of your sod project. Ask a sod expert to show you which types of grass will work best with your property.

Timing

When to plant your sod

Ideally, your sod will be delivered within 24 hours of your planned planting time. By planning to lay your sod on the day that it is delivered, you can help to ensure that your sod rolls stay fresh and hydrated until they can be laid and watered.

Drainage

Protect your sod from flooding

Creating a proper drainage system for your lawn can be the difference between a healthy, green lawn and a mud pit come April-May. Installing a drainage system of pipes and outlets will help to regulate the amount of water that your sod receives and mitigate dangerous flooding and standing water. Reducing standing water also helps to reduce the chance of mosquitoes in your yard.

Fertilizer

Nourish your sod

Loosen up your soil to about 6 or 8 inches, removing any rocks or debris. You can then till in about 2-3 inches of fertilizer or similar organic matter. By adding fertilizer and organic matter to your soil, you can increase water retention, improve aeration, and add crucial microbes that are necessary for sustained lawn health.

Level

Smooth and steady

Rake your soil so that it is even and level across your property. Uneven ground will result in uneven sod and more difficulty in the laying process. You should generally pre-water the area 24-48 hours before laying sod. Moist dirt will help the sod take to the soil and plant roots more quickly, especially when planting in the dry summer months. 

Seams

Create tight seams

It is important to align the edges of your sod so that there is no overlap. By pushing your thumbs down the edges, you can help the rolls to fit snugly against one another, reducing the chances of air pockets and bare soil in the finished product.

Rolling

Smush your sod

A lawn roller will help to create strong contact points between the sod and your soil. These contact points will allow the sod to more easily take root in your soil and become sustainably healthy.

watering lawn

Watering

Your sod is thirsty

New sod should be watered daily, unless there is substantial rainfall. Do not water in excess so as to create puddles. After the first week, you can generally go down to watering every other day, reducing it even further as you move into the third and fourth weeks. Strategic watering encourages the blades to send their roots deeper into the soil, increasing the chances of long lasting sod.

*If laying sod in the summer months, newly planted sod requires more water and needs 1″ of water daily for the first week.

Traffic

Keep off the grass

Wherever possible, eliminate or reduce any traffic on your newly laid sod. Footsteps can create uneven areas and even damage the grass itself. You can usually rake out any footprints in the soil, especially during the laying process.

Weather

When to plant

Planting sod often depends on the type of grass that you want in your yard. While many types of sod can be planted year round, the intense polarities of Texas weather can make a difference, especially when comparing the scorching heat of summer and the occasional freezing weeks of winter. If you are set on a certain species of sod, you may want to wait for the right month, conversely if you want to plant at a certain time, you will want to choose from the appropriate type of grass. A sod expert can help you make that decision and plan accordingly.

Salt

Planting salt-resistant sod

In areas where the water has a higher salt concentration, it can be beneficial to plant a salt-tolerant grass species of sod. Grasses like Seashore Paspalum, Bermudagrass, Zoysia, etc can better resist a dry, salty environment and help keep your lawn healthy, even during droughts.

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mowing your lawn grass outlet tips

Sod Maintenance and Information

Watering

How much do I need to water sod?

Permeation is key when it comes to watering your sod lawn. A light application of water will often evaporate before it soaks down into the soil, reaching the roots. 

  • Soak the soil to the depth of 6 inches for ideal infiltration and hydration
  • Water in the morning
  • Water if the blades look wilted or if the top 2 inches of soil is dry

Mowing

When should I mow my sod lawn?

Mowing is always going to be necessary to maintain a well manicured lawn (unless you are a shepherd). Knowing when to mow and how low to go can have a significant impact on the health of your sod lawn. Cutting too low to the soil will make it difficult for the roots to receive proper nourishment, starving the grass.

  • Mow when the grass is 2.5 to 3 inches tall
  • Cut it back to 1.5 to 2 inches in height

Fertilizing

Does sod need fertilizer?

Yes, sod can also benefit from routine fertilizer infusions. Fertilizer will help your grass to grow and remain healthy throughout the seasons and especially during growing periods.

  • Add fertilizer to the soil in the spring, summer, and fall seasons, while the grass is actively growing
  • Slow release, granular fertilizer will make it easier to spread evenly throughout your sod lawn

Dethatching

How dethatching can help your sod lawn

Dethatching the sod is done when the grass feels bouncy under foot or it seems thicker due to grass clipping buildup. Use a thatching rake to pull the grass blades upward and remove the debris caught between the blades. Dethatching works the best in late spring or early fall.

Aerating

The benefits of aerating sod

Aerating the sod is not a yearly maintenance step unless the lawn is heavily used. Aerate the sod when the soil becomes compacted and the water runs off the soil rather than sinking into the soil. The soil must be softened for a couple of days with water. Dethatch the sod first and then remove the 1/4- to 1/2-inch-wide soil cores taken out 3 inches deep and spaced 4 to 6 inches apart. They are left on the lawn to break up and act as a top dressing.

Salt

Counteracting salt levels

Some areas have a higher salt level in the water, notably in certain places in Texas. Increased levels of sodium will degrade soil quality, reduce the effectiveness of water infiltration, and make droughts worse. Watering deeply and occasionally can help reduce the chances of salt accumulation in the soil.

Weather

Managing everything from floods to droughts

The weather in Texas can go from a deluge of rain to an arid drought in a matter of months. High winds can leech moisture from your lawn, snap freezes can kill your roots, and flash floods can turn your lawn into a muddy mess. Knowing when these seasons occur and how to prepare for them can make the difference between a healthy lawn and needing to re-sod again. 

Central Texas Weather Trends

Coldest Month: January – Prepare for ice and freezing winds

Hottest Months: June-August – Prepare for scorching sun, drought, and parched lawns

Rainiest Months: April-May – Prepare for sudden and intense precipitation

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Contact a Sod Expert

DIY can be a rewarding experience, but it isn’t for everyone and even the most experienced DIY’ers will often consult an expert for their sod project. If you are interested in laying new sod or just need some help maintaining your lawn, please reach out to our friendly and help team of lawn care experts. We can help get your sod project off the ground onto your property!

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