How to Prep for Sod Installation

7 mins read

Is your grass so pale, patchy, and weedy that intervention is required? You can save the grass and fill in the majority of the lawn by planting new seeds if it’s at least 50 percent safe grass. Or instead, you can cover the whole lawn with sod.

It’s much easier to repair and less expensive than laying turf, but you’re going to wait a long time for the results. If you don’t mind spending more, the sod will give you beautiful grass within a fraction of the time. Here’s how to prepare grass seeds or lawn sod.

Reseeding vs. Sod

Reseeding is much cheaper than laying sod and much less labor-intensive, but reseeding takes once or twice a day for a month of diligent watering. On as little as one dry, sunny, hot day, the germinating seed will easily dry out and die. Plus, if you’re planting on a sloping yard, you’ll run the risk of heavy rain washing away all of your fertilizer and seeds.

For many months, you won’t have a completely green, dense lawn. But most turf experts will agree that a seeded lawn is superior to a sodded lawn once it’s developed. The roots are better defined, and you can adapt the seed to the conditions perfectly.

But if you’re impatient and love the notion of an instant, flawless grass carpet, there’s nothing like freshly laid sod. Moderate watering and regular lawn maintenance are what it wants after it’s laid down.

Now that you know the difference between reseeding and sod, here is a guide on how to prepare your lawn for sod installation.

Test the soil

To locate a soil-testing lab, contact a local extension service or check online. For collecting and sending samples, you will get full instructions. You’ll receive a report in a few weeks telling you how to change soil pH to optimal levels (6.5 to 7.0) and what nutrients are lacking and need to be added. To allow the grass to flourish, healthy soil is important. You can also hire professional landscapers to test if your soil is right and ready for sod installation.

Kill the weeds and grass

To destroy all the vegetation in the region where you want to sod, use a non-selective vegetation killer. Do this for at least two weeks until the old sod tears up. You might need two treatments for this. Be very careful to protect yourself from exposure. These materials will destroy all plants, so keep far away from any garden beds or shrubs.

Cut out the old sod

To shave off the old sod, rent a power sod cutter. You can rent a “kicker” manual cutter if you’re only doing a small place, but beware: These devices take a lot of strength and energy to work. Renting a garbage bin and paying to get rid of it is the perfect way to get rid of the old sod.

Add soil amendments

In your soil test results, scatter whatever quantities and types of soil treatments have been requested. Lime (to raise soil pH), sulfur (to lower soil pH), gypsum (to flush salts from the soil), and compost are popular soil modifications (to improve soil health and structure).

Till as needed

If soil amendments are needed for your soil, it is a good idea to till the soil a few inches deep to work them into the soil. And if the soil is compacted, if you loosen the top a few inches so that roots can penetrate more easily, the new grass would do much better. If your soil is sandy or loamy and no adjustments are made, tilling is not required.

Install irrigation now

If you’ve always wanted the ease of a system of irrigation, now is the time to do it. You’re not going to rip up your new grass to mount it later, and you’re going to be able to water your new lawn when it gets set up this way.

Rake and remove debris

Pick up roots, lawn debris, and stones that are large. Then rake to make the soil as smooth as possible, to level off ridges and high points. Your fresh sod telegraphs uneven spots, and root-to-soil contact is prevented by debris. The air under the turf would destroy the grass above it.

An ordinary iron rake, particularly for larger yards, will require a lot of work if you have to do a lot of grading, rent, or purchase a 36-inches rake. The work is going to go much quicker, and you will have more consistent outcomes.


Use a starter fertilizer, not a common fertilizer for lawns. Starter fertilizer contains phosphorus, which, in traditional fertilizers, is not authorized. For the growth of roots, which need to be vigorous for grass to be formed, the mineral is crucial.

For landscaping services such as sod installation, mulching, or grave pathways, hire professionals!


Louie is the father behind the travel blog He has a background in photography, E-commerce, and writing product reviews online at ConsumerReviews24. Traveling full time with his family was his ultimate past-time. If he’s not typing on his laptop, you can probably find him watching movies.


Louie Missap

I'm a real estate blogger and writer. I love helping people learn about the home buying and selling process. I've been through the process myself, and I know how confusing it can be. I'm here to help make it easier for everyone!

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