Sod can be installed year-round; however, if you’re going to sod during the heat of summer, more watering will be required than during the cooler months when you benefit a bit more from mother nature.
Sketch a diagram of the area to be covered with sod. Measure the width and length of the area to be covered, and input those figures into your diagram. Take the diagram with you when ordering your sod to help ensure that the proper amount is ordered.
Rough grade the area to be planted to eliminate drainage problems. Slope the grade away from structure foundations, and fill in any low lying areas that might hold water. Soil should be rotor tilled to a depth of 4-6 inches, this will allow for proper root establishment. If soil needs to be added to existing area rotor till approximately 2 inches deep, and then add approximately 4 inches of new topsoil/sandy loam followed by rotor tilling all soil in together.
Clear the area to be planted with sod of all foreign debris (wood, rocks, bricks, etc.), in general anything bigger than 2-3 inches in diameter. Finish grade the entire area with a hand rake, and then saturate soil to allow for settling. You may roll soil with a grass roller to firm the area to help ensure all low areas are detected. The final soil grade should be approximately 1 inch below any hard surfaces so when the sod is laid it will be even with any existing sidewalks or driveways.
Now that all soil preparation is complete, it’s time to plant your new sod. For best results, install sod immediately after delivery, and begin watering within 30 minutes of installation. This step is extremely important in the heat of summer. Begin installing sod along the longest straight line, such as a sidewalk or driveway. Stagger the joints in each row of sod; this should resemble a brick or shingle like pattern. Butt sod pieces end to end avoiding any gaps. If needed, sod can be cut with a machete or shovel. If dealing with a slope, start at the bottom and work your way up to ensure a tight uniform seam. If dealing with an extremely steep slope, plant sod across the slope from bottom to top.
Once installation is complete, make sure the new sod is thoroughly saturated and this should only be done once. After initial soaking, use a grass roller to help remove air pocket allowing for a smooth uniform contact with soil underneath.
The first two weeks after installation is extremely important for proper establishment of sod. Sod should be watered daily, or often enough to keep the sod moist for approximately 2 weeks. Foot traffic should be kept to a minimum for the first 2 weeks, and once roots have taken hold watering can be cut back to help establish a deeper root system. A general rule for watering after initial rooting stage is approximately 1 inch per week, but this may vary with climate conditions.
Once sod has taken root (approximately 2-3 weeks), you may mow and fertilize your new sod. For best results use a balanced fertilizer with a slow nitrogen release.
Watering – During prime growing months (April-September), sod will require approximately 1 inch of water per week. This will vary depending on climate conditions. During winter months, this amount should be adequate for approximately a 2-3 week period. Don’t forget to make sure that the sod is moist before a freeze during the winter months to help protect the root system.
Mowing – Generally sod should be mowed every 7-10 days depending on sod type and time of season. Best results are noticed if you mow a little shorter in the spring (i.e. 1.5 inch height), then a little taller in the summer and fall (i.e. 2 inch height). This will help insulate the sod during the summer and fall, also promoting new growth in the spring and early summer.
Fertilization – A balanced fertilizer with a slow release form of nitrogen such as 13-13-13 stems better overall results at establishment, and then use a 3-1-2 (i.e. 21-7-14) @ 5 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. As a general rule, fertilization takes place two times a year (spring and early fall) on St. Augustine and Zoysia. On Bermuda use a 3-1-2 @ 5 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. in the spring and fall with an additional Nitrogen application of 21-0-0 @ 2 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. in early June.
These are general recommendations for our area which can be changed due to weather conditions, quality desired and landscape use. In using any products read and follow all label directions.
Please enjoy the grass and the environment qualities it offers.
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