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Extension > Garden > SULIS > Maintenance > Sustainable Lawn care Information Series > Establishing a New Lawn to Achieve Sustainability > Seeding Rates and Planting Methods - Sodding the Lawn

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Seeding Rates and Planting Methods - Sodding the Lawn


When sodding a lawn, the consumer is limited in the varieties available. Most of the sod grown in the Upper Midwest is a blend of Kentucky bluegrass varieties and, as such, are unsuited to shady conditions although some may tolerate light shade.

Note: To insure good results, the same soil preparation must be done to sod a lawn as to seed it. With proper soil preparation and care, both upland (or mineral sod as it is sometimes known) and peat sod will perform equally well.

Sodding can be done any time after the ground thaws in spring, right into autumn. The limit on fall sod laying is the amount of time the sod has to develop roots before the ground freezes. The later sod is laid, the more risk that it will suffer damage if there is an "open" winter with poor snow cover.

Purchase sod as fresh as possible. Ideally, it should have been cut no more than 24 hours prior to delivery. The sod should be laid as soon as possible, or within one day after delivery. If the sod needs to be stored for a time, it should be kept in a cool, shaded area, and drying out of exposed rolls avoided. Additional suggestions for successful sodding are listed in Table 5.8.

Table 5.8. Suggestions for Successful Sodding

  • When your sod arrives, have it stacked in the shade to prevent heating. Make sure you keep the outer rolls lightly watered but not soaking wet.
  • Complete your sod laying within 24 hours from delivery to minimize heat build up in the sod rolls that can kill the plants. Lay the sod on slightly moistened ground.
  • Stagger sod joints, butting the edges as close together as possible. See picture below.
  • Lay sod the long way across slopes and peg it down to prevent it from sliding once it is watered.
  • After sod is installed, go over it with a sod roller filled 1/3 to 1/2 full of water to insure good sod-to-soil contact. Sod rollers can be rented from most rental companies for a nominal fee.
  • Water sod thoroughly, followed by lighter, frequent watering.
  • Continue to water frequently during the two to three week establishment period, then gradually water less often but more heavily.
  • Avoid walking over the newly laid sod after it has been thoroughly watered.
Offset Seams
Stagger sod joints so the seams are offset.

Aerification may help prevent soil layering caused by peat or soil that came with the sod. Aerify the spring or fall after establishment. Be sure to aerify deep enough so that the tines penetrate through the sod at least two to three inches into the soil.

Once the lawn is established, it will provide many benefits such as cooling, erosion prevention, runoff control and allergen reductions. Having planned and installed a well-designed landscape with appropriate areas devoted to lawn grasses that meet family needs and are sustainable can be particularly gratifying.

For more on establishing a lawn from sod see:

Proceed to Fiber Mats (Syn. Erosion Control Mats).

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