Sodding a Yard on a Budget

If you envy your neighbor's lush, green lawn, it’s time for some instant gratification at your place. The least expensive way to get green is to invite your friends over and promise cold beverages in exchange for helping you lay sod in your yard. By installing it yourself, you'll save half the cost of the project. Sure, you’ll get your hands dirty, but in the end, your yard will compare to your neighbor’s, and everyone who visits will admire your handiwork.

Determine Square Footage

The best time to install sod occurs from spring through fall. If you live in a warmer climate, sod can also be installed in the winter. Measure the area to be covered with sod to determine how many rolls of sod you need in total. Sod is usually available with 500 square feet to a pallet that covers a 20-by-25-foot section of yard. Order the sod ahead of time and arrange for delivery on the day you want to lay it. Prep the area to be sodded before the sod arrives. Determine how much sun your yard gets so you choose the right type of sod. You’ll need to use a different type of sod grass if you have lots of shade compared to a sunny yard.

Prepare the Ground

Remove the old grass or mow any existing grass as short as possible. Aerate your lawn after you wet it down with a hose to help the new lawn get the water it needs and the roots to penetrate deep into the soil. Rent a soil aerator from a garden or rental center. Rake up the soil plugs that pop up during aeration and pull any weeds in the area where you’ll lay the sod. If you notice drainage problems in your yard, fix those before you sod to avoid flooding your new grass during heavy rain.

Begin Laying Sod

Mark sprinkler heads, underground utilities and septic lines with flags before you lay the sod to keep track of where these features are in your yard. Apply a starter fertilizer with a high amount of phosphorous all over the area and then lightly water the yard. Before accepting your delivery of sod, confirm that it’s a minimum of 1 inch thick, fairly moist and not dried out. If it does not meet these standards, ask for a different batch. Start laying the sod once you've confirmed it's in good condition. Lay the first roll along the edge of your yard, placing the next strip in a staggered manner similar to bricks in a wall. Keep the edges of each roll edge to edge to eliminate gaps.

Seal the Yard

Turn on the tunes and dance all over the sod with your buddies when it’s dry enough to walk on. This helps the sod make better contact with the soil underneath.

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