How to Prep for Sod

Whether you’re installing sod for the first time or you’ve got a project coming up, knowing how to prep for sod will save you time and prevent issues with your lawn’s root system. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps necessary to get your yard ready for sod installation. We’ll discuss everything from soil preparation to weed control, so you can have a beautiful lawn in no time.

What you should know about sod

Sod is grass that has been specially grown for transplanting. They are living, perishable plants that must be installed within a few days of being cut from the field. They have a shallow root system that is easily damaged, so it’s important to take care when handling and installing sod.

Sod needs regular watering to establish itself and prevent drying out. You can buy ready-to-install sod or smallish pieces called plugs. Sod is used most often in large areas where you want a quick cover of grass, such as a new lawn.

Sod is usually made up of cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass and fescue, which are planted in the spring or fall. Plugs should be planted in the spring so they have the whole growing season to take root and fill in.

Sod is quickly becoming the new standard for home lawns. It’s easy to see why. Sod can be laid down in one day, is fairly inexpensive and can be used on a variety of different soil types. Preparing the ground where you’re planning to lay sod is a critical step to ensure your lawn is healthy and beautiful for years to come. You can visit our page called What is Sod to learn more.

The price of sod varies based on where you live. Here you can find out how much sod costs

What do you need?

Sod installation doesn’t require special equipment or skills, and when done correctly, it takes just one day to complete. All you need are a few tools, some basic knowledge of lawn care, and a little elbow grease.

Here’s what you’ll need to get the job done:

  • Shovels
  • Rakes
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Lawn mower
  • String trimmer
  • Garden hose
  • Watering can (optional)


How to prep your soil for sod

You’ve decided to add sod to your lawn. Before you lay sod or build a new lawn with plugs, it’s important to make sure your soil is properly prepared. This allows the roots of the new grass to grow deeply and strongly into the soil beneath them.

It’s also important because soil preparation will affect how well water drains from your new lawn, and that’s critical to its long-term health.

Here are some tips on how to prepare your soil before laying down sod:

Test the soil’s pH level

The best way to find out what nutrients are already in your soil is by testing it. If you have too much or too little of a nutrient, it can make it difficult for sod and other plants to grow. You may want to hire someone to test it for you, or you can purchase an inexpensive kit at a local garden center or home improvement store and do it yourself.

Depending on the results of your soil test, you may need to add some sand, peat moss, clay or compost to your ground in order to balance out the pH level.

You’ll want to make sure your soil isn’t too acidic (under 7) or too alkaline (over 7). A pH level of 6.5 to 7 is ideal for grass growth, but many types of grass will grow at higher or lower levels. Consult a local nursery or garden center if you need information on what pH level works best for common types of grass seed in your area.

Till the soil if necessary

Tillers are great tools that are designed specifically to help loosen up compacted soil and break through rocks in your yard so that planting is easier and air reaches the roots better.

Roto-till your lawn thoroughly, mixing in topsoil, compost and any amendments recommended by your local extension service. Rake the area flat and compact it with a roller. Work two inches of topsoil into the top six inches of soil with a rototiller. Add peat moss or compost if needed to improve drainage.

Some people prefer spading by hand; others like using a power auger. It’s really a matter of personal preference. Just make sure the soil is turned over to a depth of at least eight inches, so that new grass roots can penetrate deep into the ground.

Clear the land

Remove any vegetation or debris on the land where you will lay sod. Use a sod cutter or spade to remove existing sod, then use a rake or hoe to remove any remaining vegetation. If you are preparing steep inclines, consider using a sod roller to help it root in place.

Remove any rocks or debris from the lawn area, including existing grass and weeds. The more debris you remove now, the better your sod will look after installation.

Level the area

Once you’ve prepared your soil, it’s time to level off any high spots or fill in any low spots using a shovel or rake. You’ll want to create a level surface so that water drains evenly across your lawn and sod doesn’t become matted down in one spot. You’ll want to get a lawn leveling rake

A small slope (about an inch for every four feet) is best for drainage purposes. Be sure to pack down the soil as you go so it will be firm enough to support the weight of the sod rolls when they’re delivered.

Water the area

A day or two before you lay down your sod, water the entire area thoroughly. This will help to soften the ground and make it easier to work with. It’s important not to let the ground dry out completely before laying down your sod, or else it will be more difficult for the roots to take hold.

If you’re having a sod installation company do the work for you, they will usually roll and install the sod immediately after watering the area. If you’re doing it yourself, however, you’ll want to wait until the next day so that the ground has had time to dry out a bit and is less likely to stick to your tools.

Mark any sprinklers or other underground utilities

Now is also a good time to mark any underground sprinklers or other utilities so that you know where they are and can avoid them when digging.

You can use spray paint, flags or small stakes to mark the location of these things. If you’re not sure where they are, you can always call your local utility company for assistance.

Remove any existing grass or weeds

The last step in preparing your soil for sod is to remove any existing grass or weeds. This is important because you don’t want these things competing with your new sod for nutrients and water.

If the area is small, you can do this by hand with a shovel or hoe. For larger areas, however, you may want to consider renting a power tiller or rototiller.

Safety considerations for prepping land for sod installation

When prepping your land for sod installation, there are a few safety considerations to keep in mind.

  • First, always wear gloves when handling the sod rolls or other materials.
  • Second, be sure to clear any obstacles from the area where you’ll be working. This includes removing any rocks, sticks, or other debris that could get in the way.
  • Third, take care not to damage the sod rolls while transporting them to your work area.

Finally, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the sod. By following these simple safety tips, you can help ensure a successful sod installation.

Frequently Asked Questions


What should you put down before sod?

The most important thing you need to do before sod installation is to make sure the area is clear of obstacles. This includes removing any rocks, sticks, or other debris that could get in the way.

How deep should you dig for sod?

The depth of your excavation will depend on the type of soil you have. In general, you’ll want to excavate to a depth of about six inches. This will help ensure that the sod has a good foundation to root into.

Do I need to rototill before laying sod?

It’s not necessary to rototill the soil before sod installation. However, you may find it helpful to loosen the top layer of soil with a rake before laying the sod. This will help ensure that the sod has good contact with the soil beneath it.

When is the best time to lay sod?

The best time to lay sod is in the spring or fall. This will help ensure that the sod has a good chance to take root before the hot summer months.

How do you lay sod over existing grass?

If you’re laying sod over existing grass, the first thing you’ll need to do is kill the grass with an herbicide. Once the grass is dead, you can proceed with preparing the area for sod installation.


Now that you know how to prep for sod, all that’s left is to install it! Be sure to follow the directions on the packaging, and lay the sod as soon as possible after purchasing. With proper care, your new lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood in no time.