The Right Way To Lay Sod

Most of our programs are designed to minimize or eliminate grass in your landscape. But if you absolutely must, plan on plenty of preparation and patience.

Laying sod is not recommended during late fall and winter. In fact, most of our programs are designed to minimize or eliminate grass in your landscape since that’s the most efficient way to save water.

But for those who insist on laying sod in the coming months, there is a right way to do it — and it involves plenty of preparation and patience. For the best outcome, follow these eight simple rules.

    1. Make sure you have at least six inches of soil. If not, stop right now. Plant perennials and groundcovers
    2. Rake the area free of all stones, organic material and other debris. You want clean soil to enhance immediate root to soil contact.
    3. Don’t add compost to the soil. Many experts now think the decomposing compost will produce enough carbon dioxide to inhibit root growth. Wait until after planting.
    4. Pre-moisten the site and sod the night before. This helps with good root to soil contact.
    5. Lay out the sod in a brick pattern, offsetting the pieces like you would in a brick wall.
    6. Using a hose, apply water lightly after sod pieces are in place. No need to inundate the sod and soil.
    7. Press the sod lightly with a drum roller. This will ensure good root to soil contact.
    8. Water for four weeks. Remember, there are hardly any roots so there is no need to water any more than that. Follow this simple watering schedule. You can also water twice a day for four minutes for two weeks; then once a day for eight minutes for two more weeks.
Picture of Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson was a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System before retiring. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you're likely to find him hiking San Antonio's wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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