They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. But that doesn’t have to be the case, and it’s something you have the power to (literally) change. If your yard is comprised of dirt, weeds, brush, or some unattractive combination of the three, you have options to fix that. You can try to improve your situation with seeds, fertilizer, and endless sprinkling over weeks (or longer)…or you can sod.
This is not required to install sod, but you’ll have much better results if you test your soil a few weeks before you plan to install your sod. You can buy a soil testing kit at your local hardware store or online, like this one on Amazon. If your tests results show that your soil suffers any imbalances, you should find the appropriate starter or balanced fertilizers and begin mixing them into your soil to ensure that your soil can support your incoming sod.
This next step is definitely required to install your sod—you must prepare the surface that the sod will call home. This process will vary depending on the current situation in your yard. For example, if you have brush and small trees, you’ll need to do some land clearing first. If you have existing tufts of grass and/or weeds, you’ll need to do a bit of excavating.
The excavation process for sodding is relatively simple, and shouldn’t require heavy machinery (although that can make it go more quickly). Although sod doesn’t require as much precision as an excavation for a building foundation or roadway, it is still important to adhere to the basic rules. For instance, there needs to be some grading to ensure that water doesn’t pool in certain parts of your yard (giving you a swamp). It is also important that the surface is excavated to about an inch of depth below and sidewalks, patios, or sprinkler heads.
Once the space is excavated to the right depth and grade, it should be raked out. Unlike with a building, loose soil is better in this situation, as it is easier for roots to find their way in. This is also a good time to remove rocks and other debris.
Once you are about a day away from receiving your sod, it’s time to moisten the surface—it needs to be wet when the sod is actually installed.
To ensure that you don’t buy too much or too little sod, measure the area that will be sodded. It is recommended that you buy a little more sod than what you measure—around 5% more—in case of bad pieces or pieces that need to be cut to fit into smaller spaces.
Once your sod arrives, don’t waste any time getting it into you space! The sooner it’s in the earth, adjusting to its new location, the better. Unroll it along a straight edge and continue to do so until all of the rectangular space is filled. Make sure you fit pieces tightly against each other to avoid gaps, and use a box cutter to cut any pieces that need to fit into curved or angular pieces.
Don’t waste too much time gazing upon your masterpiece; once you’re done, it’s time to start watering. Water daily for the first week, then start backing off to every other day. Continue to back off on watering until you get to a regular weekly schedule after about a month.
If you continue with regular lawn maintenance, you should now be the owner of the “greener on the other side” yard.