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Laying sod

A house in the green, a dream of many. But then the green must also be right. Because a really beautiful lawn then unfortunately often remains a dream.

In order to fulfill this dream, many lawn owners resort to a simple means: the rolled lawn. This does not have to be pulled up laboriously itself but can be simply rolled out, and already one has a house in the green, a dream of many. But then the green must also be right. Because the rolled turf must be ordered by the garden specialty store square meter. But how to proceed, then?

In this article, we answer all your questions about laying sod and give you useful tips and advice. In addition, we will give you simple instructions on how to perfectly lay sod yourself in 5 steps.

What is sod?

Turf is a seed mixture that is commercially spread on fields and grows there for 3 to 5 weeks. In some cases, they are also called sod. In some crops, grass tiles are also grown to add greenery to roofs. After the grass is sufficiently tall, it is cut out and removed in strips. Turf is removed only to order because the turf is not durable for a long time. Turf consists of a 0.6 – 0.7″ thick layer of soil, which contains the young roots of the grass and the already sprouted blades of grass.

Sod is one way to get a beautiful lawn quickly

Laying sod will take at least one day, depending on the size of the area. You should keep in mind that you also need at least one day for preparation. Therefore, plan well in advance when you have time and ideally the weather will cooperate.
We have summarized everything else you need to know in this section. So you can answer your most important questions in advance at a glance.

When should you lay the sod?

The most important thing when laying sod is that the often expensive sod grows properly. It is important that the roots, which are in the layer of soil on which the turf is located, can connect with the underlying layer of soil.
This works only when the ground is frost-free and it is warm enough for the lawn to have the strength to sprout on its own. Winter is a very bad time.

The best time to lay the sod is in March at the earliest and in November at the latest, when the ground is not yet frozen.

Most plants stop growing in the winter and have minimal energy to do so. This happens the following spring when the plants sprout again.

In midsummer, you can also lay sod, but you’ll have to do it in the summer because the grass will have a hard time growing. It is also often very hot and rains little. Since the newly laid turf should be continuously moist to wet, especially in the first 2 weeks, you need to water it extremely much in these months.

Should you have your sod installed?

If you have little time or a huge garden, professional help is an option. But keep in mind that this will cost you a lot of money. Many amateur gardeners, therefore, install their turf themselves.

Even if you have no gardening experience, you can easily install your sod yourself with our simple 5 step guide.

If you are not physically fit, you can always ask friends and acquaintances to give you a hand. Because you don’t need professional knowledge and maybe gardening will be more fun that way.

How to lay sod correctly

Before you get started, make sure you have all the materials and tools you need to install sod.

You will need the following materials:

  • Gloves
  • Rake
  • Turf roller
  • Tiller
  • Lawn sprinkler

You will also need a few materials to make sure your lawn grows nice and green. We have summarized what you need for what in the following table.

Material Purpose
Lawn sand Fill small gaps between the turf strips with the turf sand so that these gaps close up
Starter fertilizer This fertilizer is applied BEFORE laying the sod on the bottom layer of soil to provide nutrient-rich soil and to facilitate the growth of sod

Prepare the area

You should prepare the area to be grassed a few days before your sod is delivered. This is because the sod cannot be stored for more than a day. Take the rake and rake the soil on which the sod will later be laid. Remove stones, roots, and weeds, so that in the end only fine crumbly soil remains. If the soil is particularly heavy or loamy, you should loosen it by adding about 35 – 105 ft³ of sand or compost per 1076 ft². This work is particularly easy with a rotary tiller, which you can borrow from a hardware store.

Then let the area rest for a few days. On the last day before the sod arrives, remove any newly emerged weeds. This way, you will have very few unwanted plants on your lawn later. Now, on the day of laying the lawn, use the special sod starter fertilizer. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions, because both too little and too much fertilizer can damage your lawn from the start.

Roll out the turf correctly

Once your sod has arrived, you have a maximum of 24 hours to install it. It is best to unpack all the rolls from the pallet, otherwise, the bottom rolls will be affected by the pressure and weight of the top rolls. Form small “islands” of turf on the area you want to plant, this way it will go faster when you roll it out later. However, make sure that the turf is not left in the sun. This is because sod should only be watered when rolled out, otherwise the turf inside will start to rot. In addition, the dry soil will otherwise become so hard that you will no longer be able to roll out the turf.

Correct starting point

To avoid cross joints, you should lay the turf in a bond. This means that you do not lay it out with the short edges at the same time, but offset a little. Turf is also super easy to cut with a garden knife. This way you can lay the turf flush along beds and cut it to size.

Close butt edges

Closing butt edges – that’s what gardeners call it. But you’re not quite sure what is actually meant by this? The sod is laid butted, which means that the edges of the individual rolls touch each other when unrolled, i.e. butt up against each other. It is important that the edges do not overlap. This will result in unsightly unevenness in the lawn later. If you still want to create a bed, you can do this at the same time. Here is a video on how this works best.

A garden roller is particularly practical for larger areas. Simply pull it carefully over the freshly laid lawn. Don’t worry, the blades will quickly straighten up again. You can borrow a lawn roller from your local hardware store.

Prepare turf for growing

Now press the joints together once again by hand. If you have already rolled over the lawn with a lawn roller, this work is almost unnecessary. Fill the gaps with lawn sand.

Then water the sod well and thoroughly, preferably with a sprinkler.

The sod should be thoroughly soaked so that the roots can immediately connect with the subsoil.

Expert recommendation: Do not leave any gaps open, as they will be difficult to close later. Water in the morning or evening, but not at noon in full sunshine. As soon as the lawn looks dull and gray-green in the growing phase, the moisture must be checked and watered.

What else you should know about laying sod

What can you do with the old turf?

The sod wants to be rolled out on the fresh, level, earthy ground. So the previous growth has to come down. In most cases, there was already turf in the previous place, so it has to come down. But what do you do with it? You have two options. Either you remove the old grass or you dig it up, i.e. you use it as a base. We have compiled the advantages and disadvantages of each option for you here. If you want to remove your former lawn, you need a spade or a wheelbarrow. It’s also much easier with a lawn peeler, which you can borrow from a hardware store. With it, you can easily remove the lawn and only have to worry about the disposal.

Advantages:

  • all mosses and weeds are removed
  • the area can be worked on immediately

Disadvantages:

  • Heavy intervention in soil health
    Also, remove microorganisms

If you decide to dig up your lawn, you will also need a spade. However, there is an easier way: you can borrow a power hoe from the hardware store. With it, you simply dig up the old lawn, and it does not have to be disposed of.

Advantages:

  • old plants serve as nutrients
  • microorganisms are more likely to survive

Disadvantages:

  • Flowering weeds often come through again

What are the most common mistakes when laying sod?

Although you don’t have to be an expert to lay sod, annoying mistakes do happen from time to time. To help you know what to look out for, we’ve put together a list of mistakes.

Cause  Explanation Solution
Too little watering The roots need to connect with the soil and for this, they need above all sun, water, and nitrogen. Make sure that especially in the first two weeks the lawn is always moist
Water too much Waterlogging causes the soil to mold, fungus to develop, and roots to die Waterless so that the lawn is not underwater
Walk on the turf too early The fresh roots are damaged by the pressure Let the turf rest for 2 weeks before walking on it
Mowing the lawn too early The lawn needs the blades to convert sunlight into the energy it can use Do not deprive the lawn of its energy source and wait at least a week before the first mowing

When can the turf be walked on?

Unlike turf, which you sow on your own and which must first be dense and robust before you can walk on it without damaging it, turf can be walked on after a very short time. After only two weeks, you can walk on your new turf without any worries.

When can you mow the turf after installation?

The freshly laid sod must first get used to its new home. The most important thing is for the young roots to become firmly attached to the subsoil. Turf grows very quickly, but if you put it under additional stress, such as mowing, it will turn yellow and spotty. In the worst case, it will even die.

Therefore, wait at least 5 to 8 days before mowing the lawn for the first time. As long as the blades are not over 4″ long, it is not advisable to mow the turf. If you are not sure which mower is the right one for your newly laid lawn, you can find out more here. We have compiled all the relevant information for you.

See also: Sowing lawn: the main tips for perfect seeding

What can you do if the turf is yellow or brown after installation?

Especially in the first period after installation, sod needs a lot of care to grow properly. Yellow or brown spots indicate that the sod is not getting enough liquid. This is because, especially in the first two weeks, the freshly laid sod should be watered daily. There are a few rules of thumb that can help you find the right amount of water.

Laying time Watering per week Liters per square meter
Spring or autumn 3 times a week 10 – 12 liters per 10.7 ft²
Midsummer daily at least 10 liters per 10.7 ft²

To be able to judge whether the watering is sufficient, you can gently lift a corner with your fingers after watering at the beginning, when the sod has not yet rooted. If the soil is palpably wet, it is enough.

Expert recommendation: Freshly laid sod is very thirsty. Sprinkle the new green area even if it has rained lightly shortly before. Only a long-lasting, intensive rain shower of at least 30 minutes can replace the watering.

Another reason for unsightly stains could be that you have used your lawnmower too early. Freshly laid sod should not be mowed until at least 5 to 8 days after laying, and only after a blade length of about 4″.

If you are still at a loss, the discoloration could also be caused by a lack of nutrients. Turf comes with a bit of soil, but the nutrients in it are quickly depleted. Therefore, fertilize the turf for the first time about 3 to 4 weeks after installation. You should then fertilize it every 6 to 8 weeks until the fall.

Can Lime on Your Lawn Get Rid of Weeds? – Video

FAQ - How to lay turf

❓ Can you lay turf straight onto grass?

We do not recommend laying turf on existing grass, as this will prevent the new turf from rooting well. It’s also possible for weeds to come through the new turf. The lawn is likely to deteriorate over time if the reason for relaying the lawn is not addressed.

❓ What direction should you lay turf?

Establish from where the grass is most likely to be viewed, in most cases this is from the property looking outwards onto the lawn. Lay your grass so that you’re looking into the pile. So you want the grass to be curving towards you, rather than away from you.

❓ Do I need topsoil before laying turf?

If your soil is poor quality and has been neglected over the years, give your turf the best start at adapting to its new environment by adding a layer of topsoil. Turf ideally needs around four inches of topsoil to root in.

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