Sod Installation 101

There are many reasons why homeowners in the Tucson area opt for sod installation. Perhaps you’re building a new construction home and the property lacks any sort of landscaping whatsoever. A new lot is the perfect place to lay sod to achieve a fresh, bright green lawn. Or perhaps you’ve tried to rehabilitate your straggly lawn, all to no avail. The installation of new sod by a lawn care company will give you a fresh start.


Sod installation is also a good choice for commercial properties, as a robust lawn is essential for maintaining appearances. Here’s a look at what you can expect when you schedule sod installation.


When to Schedule Sod Installation


It’s possible to successfully lay sod at any time of year. However, fall and spring are the most ideal times because the cooler weather allows the grass to become better established. Extreme heat and droughts are the enemies of new sod. Once the new grass is established, however, it should withstand the harsh Arizona summer perfectly well.


Spring is a particularly good time of year for sod installation if you plan on growing a warm weather grass. These include Bermudagrass and St. Augustine. Before scheduling your installation with the lawn care company, you should check the weather forecast. It’s best to lay sod only when there is no further risk of an overnight freeze.


What to Expect from the Sod Installation Process


Like most home improvement projects, sod installation requires some prep work. If you’re contracting with a lawn care company, the team should take care of all of the prep work for you. If you plan on installing the sod yourself, you’ll need to do the following:


  • Remove large stones and other surface debris.
  • Add fertilizer as needed, based on the results of a soil test.
  • Roto-till the soil, incorporating fertilizer and other soil amendments, such as compost.
  • Level the ground, maintaining a slight slope away from the building.
  • Wet the soil thoroughly.
  • Tiller or rake the soil to provide a two-inch crust.


When receiving pallets of sod, the most important thing to do is water them immediately. Sod rolls, including the sides of the rolls, must always be kept moist. Then, the sod rolls can be unrolled, cut to size, and placed so that the ends are staggered, much like bricks would be staggered on the wall of a house. Lastly, the sod must be gently rolled to eliminate air pockets and improve contact between the roots and the soil.


How to Care for Your New Lawn


The lawn care company should provide detailed instructions on caring for your new lawn. It’s best to defer to these expert instructions. However, you can use the following as general guidelines.


What to Do During the First Two Weeks


The most important step to take during the first two weeks is to keep the sod continually moist. Overwatering is not generally a concern. You will likely need to thoroughly water the lawn about four times daily. Once per day, peel back a small corner of the sod to see whether the water has penetrated down through the first three inches or so of soil (beneath the sod layer). If not, you aren’t watering enough.


During the first two weeks, you should strive to minimize foot traffic on the lawn. However, you may walk on it to reposition sprinklers as needed. Do not mow your lawn during this time, or drive any cars or heavy machinery over it.


What to Do During the Next Two Weeks


After the first two weeks, you may mow your lawn. Use the highest mower setting and ensure that no more than one-third of the grass is mowed. Additionally, you may need to cut back on watering on the day that you plan to mow. This will help the soil firm up a bit in order to better support the mower.


At this point, the roots should be deeper. This means you can gradually reduce the number of times you water per day. However, increase the length of time that you water by a few extra minutes. This will encourage the roots to dig down deeper.


At the four-week mark, you should fertilize your sod. Use a blend recommended by your lawn care company for your particular soil type and grass.


What to Do Moving Forward


By this point, your new lawn should be well established. Mow as needed and water the grass two to three times per week, providing about one inch of water weekly. As the weather warms up, you may need to increase the amount of water. Pay particular attention to the areas of grass that are adjacent to pavement. The hot Southern Arizona temperatures will heat up the pavement, and this can scorch nearby grass.


If you have trouble remembering to water your lawn frequently enough, you may wish to invest in an irrigation system. A lawn care company can design an automated irrigation system that can be programmed to water your lawn at ideal intervals.


If you’ve got a sickly looking lawn and you’re fed up with trying to grow grass from seed, it’s time to schedule sod installation. Call Action Yard & Tree Services at (520) 829-4791 to request a quote! Our expert landscapers travel throughout the Tucson area, working on both residential and commercial properties. We also design, install, and repair custom irrigation systems!