Laying sod may appear to be a daunting task, but it is not as difficult as it may appear. Although it can be physically demanding, this section will tell you the proper steps to take when laying sod. By following these steps, you can successfully lay your own sod.

Supplies needed:

  • Sod
  • Topsoil
  • New lawn starter, fertilizer, OR compost
  • Rototiller OR a spade
  • Rake
  • Sod roller

Determine the Amount of Topsoil, Compost, and Sod Needed:

Calculate the amount of sod required using the following formula- multiply the length (in feet) by the width (in feet). The resulting number is the square footage and this is how much sod you will need.

Calculate the amount of topsoil you will require using the following formula- multiply the length of area (in feet) by the width of area (in feet) by the depth (in inches). Then take this number and divide it by 12. The resulting number is the amount of topsoil you will need in cubic feet.

If you are using compost instead of fertilizer, use the same formula that you used to calculate the amount of topsoil.


1) Remove all rocks and debris from the area.

2) Loosen soil with a rototiller or spade. This allows the sod to take up nutrients and air. Sandy or heavy clay soils need to be amended. Sod needs good drainage and good soil to grow and thrive.

3) Grade soil in the area, sloping gradually away from structures to ensure water/runoff will be directed away from your home, sidewalk, etc.

4) Apply a layer of topsoil to the graded area. Good topsoil allows sod to survive stress periods and retain moisture and nutrients longer. A layer of at least 7-15 cm (3-6 inches) deep is recommended for the sod to grow and thrive.

5) Apply fertilizer OR a 3″ layer of compost at this time. Starter fertilizer will give sod a faster, healthier start and a better chance of surviving. Spread starter fertilizer over the soil at the recommended rate on the package. Compost will help establish vigorous roots and a healthy lawn.

6) Rake the area smooth and level out any low spots.

7) Use a sod-roller to firm the soil, ensuring that the soil does not become overly compacted.

9) Lay the first row of sod, following a straight edge. A curb, sidewalk, driveway, or taut string will work as a guide. Continue to lay the sod so that the seams are staggered. Ensure that the edges of the sod do not overlap, that they are flush with one another, and that there are no gaps. If there are any gaps, fill these with topsoil.

10) Trim the excess sod with a sharp knife.

11) Water the sod. Watering sod at the right rate is especially important. Water two to three times daily until sod has properly rooted. It is best to water in the morning or the evening. To tell if sod is properly established (rooted), gently pull on the sod to see if it remains firmly in the ground.