How to Lay Sod

At CF Landscaping, we understand that you want your lawn to look green, clean, and fresh. But sometimes, no matter what you do, that just isn’t the case. Weeds and other lawn erosion issues prevent you from achieving the aesthetic value you desire for your home. Replacing your lawn with new sod is the most advantageous resolution and is the fastest and easiest way to establish the perfect new lawn.

Although a seeded lawn is initially cheaper, laying new sod has the most economical result overall. Because of erosion, reseeding, over-seeding, and watering, recurring costs arise during maintenance of a seeded lawn. Seed can also take up to 2 to 3 weeks to germinate. Also, great care and attention are both needed for newly seeded lawns to grow into a mature, healthy lawn for you to enjoy. While it may take months before you can use your newly seeded lawn, new sod can be used in up to 4 weeks. New sod also needs less water to establish than seed, saving you money on your water bill.

Now that you’ve decided to sod your lawn, let CF Landscaping help you with these 8 steps for how to lay sod and ensure your sod is laid perfectly for a long-lasting, healthy lawn. First, make sure that the ground is not frozen. It’s best to lay new sod in the early fall or early spring, and you should give yourself at least one day to prepare and one day to lay the sod.

  • Sod
  • Composted organic matter
  • ​All-purpose granular fertilizer
  • ​Topsoil
  • ​Shovel
  • Rake and broom
  • ​Tiller
  • ​All-purpose granular fertilizer
  • ​Sharp knife/sod cutter
  • ​Lawn roller

Step 1: Prepare the Site

When preparing the site, you will need to remove between 3-6 inches of soil. This is dependent on how bad your weeds are. If you have a major weed problem then you will more than likely have to remove 6 inches of soil. If you have minor weeds and are just looking to make your grass look nicer with new sod, you may only have to remove 3 inches of soil. At CF landscaping, we assess the weed problem first before deciding how much to remove prior to doing any quotes.

Step ​2: ​Grading and Pulling up the Soil

With this step, you have a number of options for how you can remove the soil in order to prepare for your new lawn: 

  • ​Using a Rototiller - This option affordable because you can rent what you need from a supply store like Home Depot. Rototillers have option to set the depth you would like to go, making it more accurate than some other methods.
  • ​Using a Mini Excavator - Using this equipment is best reserved for someone who feels comfortable operating a Mini Excavator. When we use this machinery, we grade off 3-6 inches and put the soil straight into the wheelbarrow. We also remove the soil by placing it into a Clean Fill Bin or dumper trailer.
  • Hand shoveling - You should only shovel the soil from your lawn if you are doing a small area because it's so time-consuming and can be very difficult to obtain an even finished product at the end of the project.

Step 3: Remove your Soil

Once all the soil is up, get rid of it by using a Clean Fill removal service. The roots and clods you unearth should be disposed of in this way because solid waste bins are not meant to be receptacles for such debris. If you can’t afford one immediately, at least procure a wheelbarrow to set the old turf debris aside, along with any other building materials you might have lying around.

Step 4: Add the Topsoil

​After the soil and debris have been removed, bring in 3-6 inches of new topsoil to top-dress your lawn. This calculator should help you measure how much topsoil you need. Spread it around until you have at least 1 to 2-inch layers using a shovel or a dirt spreader and then rake it in. Adding topsoil to your lawn will smooth low spots and provide a fertile growing ground.

Step 5: Water the Prepared Site

Depending on the structure and composition of your yard you might want to grade it before adding back Gro-Turf soil. You can do this by ordering a cheaper soil for grading and then adding Gro-Turf soil on top. Then water the prepared site to settle the soil and provide a moist base for the sod. It should be watered well for 24 to 48 hours before laying the sod. If you live in the GTA or Guelph area, here are some companies we use:

Step 6: ​Roll your Soil

Now that you have clean, new soil back in your yard, you will want to lightly roll it. This is a method of light soil compaction that will condense the soil and decrease runoff, erosion, and get rid of air pockets. It is best to do this when the soil is slightly damp. If you roll the soil when it is still soaked, heavy soil compaction will make it difficult to ensure the lawn gets the air and water it needs. Use a lawn roller that is a 1/3 full of water to firm the soil surface and reveal low areas that need more soil.

Note: In knowing how to lay sod, you should understand that these first 6 steps should be completed BEFORE the sod even arrives. It is important that the sod is laid shortly upon delivery to ensure its health.

Step 7: ​​Lay your Sod

Now you will start laying sod rolls. Make sure this is done within 6 to 12 hours of the sod arriving. You don’t want it to overheat, and if it has arrived on a pallet, it will need to be unstacked to air out. Start by laying the sod along a straight edge, such as a patio, fence, or driveway. And lay the rolls like you would do for bricklaying – staggering the joints with the seam in the middle of each row.

Work with whole pieces, laying them one at a time, end to end, and avoid walking on them as you lay them. Smooth out loose areas or wrinkles, patting down the sod so it’s flat against the soil with no air pockets between them. Once the perimeters are completed, cut the other rolls in half to stagger the short, tight seams in the middle areas. This will prevent the edges from drying out or dying. Our favourite company for sod in Ontario is Green Horizons.

Step 8: ​​Lay your Sod

Make sure to fill in any seams and to water the newly sodded area before rolling. Use the lawn roller again to even out the sod joints and ensure solid contact between the sod roots and the soil. This is also effective for eliminating air pockets. Limit your foot traffic on the sod for the first couple weeks while it establishes.

You should also make sure to also continually water the sod daily for the first week or two. If the lawn begins to puddle, cut back to watering every other day. After the third week reduce the watering to twice weekly. If you like, you can also add more fertilizer during this process.

We offer sodding installation in the GTA, Guelph, Eramosa Area.


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