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Sod Installation Tips:

The Texas Agricultural Extension Service offers the following tips for installing sod:

Step 1 – Measure

Using a tape, measure the lawn area that will receive sod. Make a sketch of the lawn area with the measurements of the area where you plan to establish your lawn. Include the dimensions of sidewalks, parking areas, shrub beds and buildings as they will influence the total amount of sod you need to order. Determine how many square feet of sod you will need, then convert that figure to square yards (square feet / 9 = square yards).

Step 2 – Ordering and Scheduling

Make sure your sod is not delivered until all preparatory soil work is completed and you are ready to install. Quick installation on the delivery day is crucial to ensuring a healthy lawn. All sod should be planted the day of delivery. The longer the grass sits on a pallet the more likely it is to die, or take longer to establish.

Step 3 – Soil Preparation

Kill all grass and weeds in preexisting lawn with a non-selective herbicide. After all weeds are dead, rototill the soil to ensure good sod to soil contact. After tilling, begin soil work to eliminate drainage problems (slope away from house, garage) and low areas in your lawn and then add fertilizer or organic amendments as needed (your county extension agent can help you determine whether your soil needs fertilizer or amendments). Lightly till the soil and amendments to a depth of 4 to 5 inches. Rake the soil smooth removing all rocks, large soil clods, and plant roots/sod chunks. Be sure to keep the soil level about 1 inch below the level of sidewalks or the driveway.

Step 4 – Sod Installation

Install your sod immediately when delivered. Begin installing sod along a driveway or sidewalk and push edges together tightly without stretching. Be sure to stagger the joints of the sod in a brick-like (running bond) pattern to avoid continuous seams and use a sharp knife, spade or machete to trim edges of sod to fit the landscape. Always place sod across steep slopes and stake in place if needed. Do not place small pieces of sod along outside edges, because they will dry out and die. Begin watering sod within 30 minutes of installation. In hot weather, place unused sod in the shade and keep it moist until it is laid in the landscape. After a light watering, roll the sod with a roller to ensure good sod to soil contact.

Step 5 – Watering

Be sure to water your new sod as soon as possible after instillation, professional sod companies commonly have a person hand watering sod as soon as it is laid. During the first two weeks you should water at least once a day with enough water to keep the sod and soil moist but not soaking wet. Check to make sure that the sod and upper soil profile is remaining moist throughout the day. Be extra cautious during hot, dry and windy weather as the sod can quickly dry out. By following this watering advice, you will ensure good turf rooting into the soil. You should begin a deep and infrequent watering program to promote a deep and healthy root system for your new lawn as soon as the grass is well rooted (you can not pull the grass from the soil).

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Maintaining Your New Lawn

Until your lawn has a fully established root system, avoid heavy use or putting heavy equipment on it. Specific fertilizer and maintenance requirements can be found from your county extension agent or retailer. Mow the lawn as soon as it starts growing. Make sure that your have a newly sharpened blade. Mow at the correct height for the grass. It is very easy to scalp a newly planted lawn. If a scalped area in the lawn does not clear up on its own after two or three mowings it means you have an unleveled place in the lawn. Adding a light application of a sandy loam soil to the depression will help fill it in and reduce the scalping. For deeper depressions it may be easier to dig up the grass, fill in the depression and then replant the grass. Remember to water deeply and infrequently, mow often with a sharpened mower, and watch for insect, disease or fertility problems.

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