Avoid These Mistakes When You Lay Sod

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If you’ve made the decision to install new sod on your lawn, you’ll surely want the installation to go as smoothly as possible. Sod installation doesn’t have to be difficult, but there are a few key steps you must take to ensure the roots establish properly, and you end up with a fresh, healthy lawn. Doing your research before you start installing your new sod is essential!

Just like there are important steps you must take, there are also several mistakes you must avoid. In this post, we’ll review the most common mistakes we see property owners make when installing new sod:

Improper Preparation

The work of laying new sod begins long before laying the first piece. The entire area where you want to lay the new sod must be completely cleared, leveled, and enriched (if needed). This requires removing all current grass, weeds, and plants, so you are left with nothing but clear, root-free dirt. You should then test the soil using a test kit from your local lawn care store or online and make amendments to achieve the ideal soil chemistry. Some people choose to simply mix in nutrients to their existing soil, while others may opt to incorporate completely different soil into their own. Whichever way you choose to go, be sure to thoroughly mix in any components added, so they are evenly distributed over the entire area to be sodded. Once the soil is amended, it should be leveled so that it is completely flat and even. Be sure not to compress the soil so much while flattening that you push all the air out. Air in the base layer soil is essential for proper sod root establishment. If the soil becomes too compressed, use an aerator to fluff it back up a bit. Now you have the perfect surface to lay your new sod.

Buying Sod Too Early

If you’re in the early stages of planning your sod installation, you may already be looking at sod varieties. There are many types of grass to choose from, and you must consider factors such as your soil’s composition, proneness to flooding, and proximity to sand or salt spray. Once you’ve settled on the perfect sod variety for you, you may be tempted to go ahead and put in your order so that you are sure to get exactly what you want. But…let’s slow down. While choosing your sod variety early in the process is fine, you definitely don’t want to actually purchase any sod until closer to your installation date. Why? Well, because just like any living plant, sod starts to dry out as soon as it is harvested. If you order sod weeks or even days before your install date, you’ll probably end up with wilted, dry, crunchy, and maybe even dead sod. This compromised sod will never establish properly or thrive, so you might as well have just thrown your cash in the trash instead.

Here at Council Growers Sod in Hillsborough County, we harvest and deliver your sod order right to your door on your installation date. You’ll never have to wonder if our sod has been sitting on a pallet drying out…you’ll only receive the freshest and healthiest sod available in Tampa Bay when you choose us!

Leaving Gaps

Now that you have prepped your soil and have a fresh load of Council Grower’s premium, locally-grown sod at your doorstep, it’s time to start laying! Piecing sod together is a lot like a jigsaw puzzle…every piece must fit perfectly. Avoid leaving gaps or forcing pieces of sod into areas where they don’t fit nicely. This will ensure your lawn is even and uniform with no unexpected empty patches.

Not Flattening the Sod

Once your sod is pieced together perfectly, it’s time to roll it out. Sod rollers are available at pretty much any lawn care store and are designed just for this job. Many people like to skip this step but we advise against that…flattening the new sod ensures that there are no air bubbles underneath and that there is as much root-to-soil contact as possible. This will encourage root establishment and lead to a much nicer-looking lawn in the end.

Watering Too Much or Not Enough

The watering requirements for new sod are quite specific and must be followed precisely to help the sod adhere to the underlying soil properly. Since watering also depends on other factors like precipitation, temperature, shade, etc., it’s impossible to give set-in-stone watering guidance. However, the general rule of thumb is that your new sod needs ½” to ¾” of water uniformly distributed over the entire lawn daily for four full weeks. Back it down to every other day for the next four weeks, then check for root establishment. If the sod doesn’t pull away easily from the underlying soil, you’re good to go! Continue watering based on the guidelines set by your sod’s manufacturer guidelines and local recommendations.

Mowing Too Soon

If you care enough about your lawn to make the investment in new sod, you’ll probably have a hard time watching it grow uncontrolled during those first two months. However, you must resist the urge to mow during this time. The focus of this initial period is root establishment, and mowing your lawn can affect it in two separate ways. First, the weight of the lawnmower rolling over the new sod can cause damage to the newly forming root systems below. Second, cutting the grass blades too short will damage the blade’s crown, causing the grass to shrivel and appear dormant as it tries to repair itself. If the blade damage is bad or extensive, the grass could die. No one wants to kill their new sod, so keep the lawnmower locked up for those first eight weeks to give it a fighting chance.

Fertilizing Before Root Establishment

Sometimes, instead of growing too much, your new sod might not grow quite as fast as you’d like. If you’re thinking about adding some fertilizer to your lawn to speed up its growth…STOP! Fertilizing is a big NO for new sod. The fertilizer can actually damage or even destroy the newly formed root systems, leaving you with a dead, brown patch. Only fertilize as needed after the roots have fully established, anywhere from 3-8+ weeks.

Buy the Best Sod in Tampa Bay

When laying new sod, quality is important. If you take a gamble on discount sod, you’re taking a gamble on the appearance of your lawn and your entire property. Instead of risking your curb appeal, choose Council Growers Sod for all your sod needs. We carry sod varieties that are proven to thrive in Florida’s hot and humid climate, so you’ll have the best-looking yard on your block. Give us a call at (813) 633-8665 or order your new sod online, and we’ll deliver it directly from our farm to your Tampa Bay doorstep!