How to measure and install sod like a pro
Congratulations on your decision to create a more inviting outdoor space! Here are step-by-step instructions for measuring and installing your beautiful, professional-looking Harmony Turfgrass lawn. Remember, Harmony Turfgrass can be purchased by the piece at most national home improvement retailers, or ordered by the pallet through the store’s pro service desk. Let’s get started!
Measuring for your sod
Harmony Turfgrass varieties, available in leading home improvement stores nationwide, are priced per square foot (sq. ft). Before you pick up the phone or drop by the store to order your sod, calculate how many square feet you will need.
- Sketch your site on a piece of paper. Draw each area as a geometrical shapes (rectangle, triangle, square, etc.).
- Measure the dimensions. With a tape measure or wheel, measure the length, width and diameter of each shape, and record those on your sketch.
- Calculate the square footage for each of your shapes. Here are some easy formulas to use.
Square: Length x width = square feet
Triangle: Base x height x 0.5 = square feet
Circle: Diameter x diameter x 0.8 = square feet
Oval: Length (widest point) x width (at midpoint) x 0.8 = square feet
Irregular shapes: Measure the longest axis of the area. At every 10 feet, measure the width at right angles to that length line. Total all the widths and multiply by 10.
Add up the square feet for each shape. That’s the total amount of sod you’ll need to order.
Installing your Harmony Turfgrass
Be sure to prepare your site before your sod arrives. Following these next steps will pay off with an attractive, durable and highly usable lawn for years to come. Please don’t be tempted to hurry through – or even skip – the site preparation process. Even the highest quality sod will have trouble growing on bad soil.
Conduct a soil test. Buy a soil test kit at your local garden center, and send the soil sample to the soil-testing laboratory for analysis. Most labs will provide you with recommendations based on any soil deficiencies, such as a need for nutrients. For example, you might need to add lime to adjust the soil’s pH.
Get down to bare ground. For sod’s roots to grow down into the new soil, they must have good sod-to-soil contact, so sod should be laid on bare ground. If you want to install sod over existing turfgrass, first apply a non-selective herbicide to kill all the grass and weeds that are already there. Do this a few weeks before your intended installation date, because you might need to re-treat difficult-to-kill weeds or grasses.
Loosen the soil with a tiller. Get down to a depth of at least 4” to 6”. This will enable the new sod’s roots to more easily grow down deeper into the root zone. This is also the right time to apply and till any recommended starter fertilizer and amendments (such as topsoil, compost and/or lime) into the top several inches of soil. After tilling, remove any debris that could interfere with the sod’s root growth and water movement into the soil, such as rocks, sticks, tree stumps, construction scraps and large dirt clumps.
Install your in-ground irrigation system (if planned). It will be easier to install now that the ground is loosened. Be sure to test the system before the sod arrives, to make sure it’s working properly.
Smooth and firm the soil surface. You can do this by irrigating it and/or using a lawn roller one-third full of water. This will reveal any low areas that need more soil. Keep your grade 1” below sidewalks and driveways. Then finish-grade the entire site using a heavy duty rake. (Note: you can use a tractor-mounted box blade for larger areas, but it will significantly compact your newly loosened soil.)
Lightly moisten the soil a day or two before the sod is delivered. Be careful not to get it too sloppy or saturated.
Install your sod immediately after delivery. Plan to install it the same day, if possible. The longer it sits on the pallet, the more it will deteriorate (especially in the summer heat). If it’s hot outside, protect un-laid sod by placing the pallets in the shade, covering them with moistened burlap bags and/or sprinkling them with cool water.
Begin installing at your site’s longest straight line. This will probably be along your driveway or sidewalk. As you lay the rows of sod, stagger the end edges (like laying bricks on a house) so that all of the joints and ends do not line up with one another.
Push the sod pieces tightly together, without stretching. This is so that you don’t leave any loose, sloppy seams. Weeds will pop up in even the smallest cracks of bare soil between sod pieces.
Roll the surface to improve sod-to-soil contact. After all of your sod is installed, roll the entire surface to remove air pockets.
Water within 30 minutes of installation. Turf is a living plant that requires ground contact and moisture to survive. If the weather is particularly hot and dry, you may need to start irrigating the completed areas before the entire site is laid. Until it has rooted, new sod will require a fair amount of water. Every day, pick up a corner of a sod piece to check the soil underneath.
Irrigate often enough to keep the soil damp/moist but not saturated with puddles on top. Within a couple of weeks, as the sod’s roots have started growing down into the soil, you will be able to cut back on watering. In fact, after the sod is well established (several weeks after installation), irrigating deeply and infrequently will encourage the turf’s roots to grow further down into the soil, ultimately making it more tolerant to drought.
Now, enjoy a more active outdoor lifestyle with your healthy and hearty Harmony lawn!