Nothing is quite as nice as a newly installed, emerald green lawn. Do-it-yourself sod installation is a great way to save money on your landscaping project, but you need to be careful to avoid some common pitfalls that could spell the premature death of your beautiful (and expensive) lawn. Here are some common mistakes that people often make during sod installation that you can avoid.
1. Skipping the topsoil.
In order to prep the ground for sod installation, professional landscapers will spread a thick layer of topsoil. The topsoil is full of nutrients that help support the roots of the grass, knitting them down into firm ground quickly and strongly. You might think, well, dirt is dirt, right? Why should you pay extra for dirt when you have plenty already?
Generally, regular soil is depleted of nutrients, especially if old grass or weeds have been growing on it prior to sod installation. Topsoil has plenty of untapped organic matter and has perfect drainage — your current soil can be too full of clay or sand to help the roots establish themselves. In soil that is too sandy, the grass will have a hard time getting the water it needs. In soil that has too much clay, the roots cannot penetrate as deeply. You'll find your lawn has poor resilience in the heat of summer when it has been laid over poorly-prepared ground.
2. Letting the sod sit.
Often, people will pick up topsoil, sod, tools, and rollers, and then go home to prep the site while the poor sod sits off to the side, waiting to be used. Sod is packed on pallets when it is freshly cut. In the grass, you'll find living organisms like worms, crickets, and beetles. As the sod sits on the pallet, these organisms expire and release heat. If left too long, the grass will rot, leaving ugly yellow and brown patches. Don't take the chance of letting your sod sit on the pallet while you make the ground ready. Make the ground ready before you get your grass.
3. Forgetting to cool the ground.
If you're installing sod on a hot day, the dark soil can easily reach high temperatures, and sod roots are sensitive. As the bottom of the sod roll touches the dirt, the ground can have a searing effect on any exposed roots, which will delay or even prevent your grass from knitting. Use a misting nozzle on the garden hose to cool the ground slightly before placing the sod square.