Starting a lawn from sod creates an attractive, durable area much faster than lawns started with seed or plugs, but it is also more expensive. Properly installing the sod and providing it with excellent care protects your investment. It also prevents problems like sod pieces curling up, a likely indication that at least the edges of these pieces have dried out too much.
1. Laying the Sod
When laying sod, start along a long, straight edge like a sidewalk or driveway. Cut the sod as accurately as possible to fit around objects, as undercutting pieces leaves them prone to drying out. Stagger joints between sod pieces between rows like brickwork to prevent obvious joints in the lawn. Ensuring sod pieces butt up against each other tightly is crucial as gaps between sections leave the edges vulnerable to drying out. On slopes or where there is a chance the sod could move or be disturbed by activity, sod-anchoring pins pushed through the sod into the soil will secure the sod. At lawn edges, allow a small amount of extra sod and curl the edge of the piece slightly downward. This helps to accommodate the slight shrinkage that normally occurs.
Good irrigation practices are vital for new sod establishment. If the sod cannot be installed within a few hours of delivery, it should be laid out in a single layer in the shade and watered, as needed, so it is constantly moist. A thorough soaking should occur within 30 minutes of installation. Following installation, sod and the underlying soil should remain constantly moist, but not soaked, until the sod has knitted or rooted to the soil. This typically calls for daily watering, depending on the weather and site conditions, for several weeks.
3. Rolling or Tamping
As soon as the sod is dry enough to walk on following that thorough irrigation, plan to run a lawn roller filled to about one-third its capacity with water over the newly sodded lawn twice in different directions. For small areas and corners or other spots that the roller cannot easily reach, use a hand tamp to press the sod pieces down. Rolling or tamping forces the sod pieces solidly into contact with the soil while also pushing sod pieces together to minimize drying.
4. Filling Gaps Between Sod Pieces
It is unrealistic to expect that even with proper installation there will be no slight gaps that develop between pieces of sod. Quickly filling these spaces with topsoil or potting soil and keeping these filled gaps constantly moist will keep adjacent sod pieces from drying out. It will also encourage grass roots to grow into the space.
- Michigan State University Extension: Nine Steps for Establishing a New Lawn Using Sod
- University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension: Installing and Maintaining a Sod Lawn
- The University of Arizona Master Gardener Manual Reference: Lawns: Planting
- Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Establishing a Lawn From Sod
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