Turfgrass Installation Process – tips to install sod like a professional

After you have prepared your soil and purchased your sod, it’s time to install it! This is the exciting part where your yard will be transformed from bare dirt, to a lush lawn.

Chanshare Farms offers turfgrass sod installation services, using trained, experienced installers. The benefits of hiring professional turfgrass sod installers are many.

  • They are fast and efficient
  • They leave the job site clean
  • They user their experience to solve unusual problems
  • Professional installation usually leads to healthier, more successful turfgrass lawns

You can install your new lawn yourself using the following tips.

Damp Soil

If the soil is dry, water the area thoroughly two or three days before installing turf. A deep watering is especially critical to ensure the soil is moist to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. The soil should be damp, but the surface should not be muddy on installation day.

When your turfgrass sod is delivered, immediately check its moisture content. It is not uncommon for turf to dry out during cutting and shipping. If the turfgrass sod is dry, spray the top and sides of the sod lightly with water. Do not lay dry turfgrass sod. The lack of moisture will impede plant growth. Lay your sod as soon as possible. If the turfgrass is allowed to spend too much time on a pallet it can be fatal to the sod. Below is an example of heating in the pallet. When a pallet of sod is left out in hot temperatures without quick installation the heat within the pallet is insulated and compounds, burning roots. When laid you will see the brown spots (usually in a circular pattern). If there are green chutes coming up through the brown spots the turf will likely recover within a month. If there are no green chutes visible the dead spot will need to be replaced.

If your ground is so soft that you create low spots when you step on the newly placed turfgrass sod, it is a good idea to kneel or stand on plywood when installing. Use plywood for even weight distribution. These can be moved around as needed throughout the installation job. This helps prevent damage that can come with installing sod on wet or soft ground.


Handle your sod carefully. Do your best not to stretch or tear the sections of sod as you are removing them from the delivery pallet and placing them on the seedbed. When you need to cut a piece of sod, use a sharp knife or curved sod cutter. It’s a good idea to limit traffic on new turfgrass as much as possible. Once a section of sod is installed, try to stay off it until it is well established.

If possible, avoid cutting small pieces of turfgrass sod. Small pieces tend to dry out quickly. Use a knife or sharp tool to trim the sod to fit around the various features in your yard. Sometimes it is impossible to avoid using smaller pieces of sod. When you must use them, take special care to ensure that the small pieces are watered sufficiently.


The best way to begin installing turfgrass sod in your yard is to find a straight edge perpendicular to the ground slope, such as a driveway or sidewalk. If you don’t have any straight edges to help guide you, you can create a straight line using a rope line.

To ensure a good start, lay an entire row of sod slabs along the straight line, before starting the next row. Place the sections of turfgrass sod as tightly together as possible against each other, but do not overlap the edges. If the turfgrass sections are placed so that the edges overlap, the roots in the portion of the turfgrass sod that is on top will not be able to knit into the seedbed.

Stagger the Seams

Lay the next row of turfgrass sod so that the seams do not line up with the seams in the first row. The simplest way to do so is to cut a whole piece of sod in half. Use a half piece as the first piece in the next row to create a pattern like you would see on a brick house.

The seams will fill in over the next few months. If they are not staggered, you are creating lanes for excess water to flow through and encouraging erosion damage. In addition, not staggering the seams may channel the wheels of your lawn mower into those seams, which will result in an uneven cut and scalping. Staggering the seams helps to lock the sections of turfgrass sod together and keeps the edges from losing moisture too quickly.

Installing Sod on Hillsides

Lay the turfgrass sod horizontally across the slope of the hillside and not vertically up and down the slope. On a slope, it is especially important to stagger the turfgrass sections to secure them in place.

On steep slopes, the turfgrass sod may need to be anchored for the first few weeks to keep it from sliding downhill before the roots attach into the seedbed. Drive six inch wire landscaping pins or wooden dowels into each sod section to fasten to the seedbed below.

Avoid hitting these pins when mowing and removed them once the turfgrass roots are established.

Over Dressing

Sometimes the sections of sod will shrink a bit. If the pieces of turfgrass sod are not placed as tightly together as possible, large gaps may develop in the seams between each section. Some gaps are normal when installing turf. Fill in these gaps with playground sand or topsoil.


In hot weather, hand watering sod as it is installed is advisable to keep the sod moist until the sprinklers can be turned on. Once your lawn is installed, the first irrigation should be a heavy application of ½” to 1” of water. This will the sod to adhere to the soil and provide a good base for keeping the sod moist in the future. Going forward, keep your new lawn well-watered for the first few weeks until it can send its roots deep into the soil. After sod is established, deep watering is important. Water more deeply and less often. This practice aids in developing a healthier root system for all plants. Shallow roots do not withstand the summer heat. Plants do not waste water……people do. Learn your Lawn! See Chapter 9 for a week by week watering guide.