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How To Prepare Soil for Sod

How to Prepare Soil for Sod

Spring is here! Normally, Utahns are preparing their gardens and shopping for plants; however, with Covid-19 affecting the world, and in particular, several states, we are under a social distancing recommendation. That doesn’t mean you can’t start prepping your soil for sod. Stay tuned as we discuss some helpful tips to get your soil in tiptop shape for sod.

Part One: Test and Clear off Soil

1. Test your sample. The first thing you need to do in preparation for new sod is to test your soil. A soil test helps you determine what needs to be added to your soil, so it’s healthy and ready for sod. Fill a bucket with the top 4-6 inches of your soil from many different spots (about 10) in the area in which you’re laying down sod. Remove any weeds or leaves from the soil. Contact your local extension office to see how to submit your sample. It’s best to send the sample in about a month before laying down sod; this gives you plenty of time to get results back.

2. Clean off any debris on the soil. Pick up any rocks, branches, or other objects on your soil before laying down sod; otherwise, it could interfere with the sod’s growth. Plus, any objects will make the sod look lumpy and uneven.

3. Kill off weeds and existing grass with an herbicide. It’s much easier to control weeds before you lay sod, so look for something like glyphosate and follow the directions. Apply it a month before sod installation. Depending on what herbicide you’re using, you may need to do multiple applications spaced 2-4 weeks apart.

Part Two: Grading Your Soil

1. Smooth out any mounds or high spots on the soil.  Use an iron rake or shovel and break apart any high points. Next, spread the broken up dirt around the area, so it’s level with the rest of the soil.

2. Fill in any dips in your soil. To prevent water build-up and impact the appearance of the sod, fill in the dips in your soil; not doing so can kill your new grass. Push dirt into the low spots with a rake, so it’s level with the soil.

3. Slope the soil away from any buildings nearby. You want the water to drain away from the buildings rather than pooling next to them. If you have a small area, use a rake and shovel to slope the soil. In a large area, you may need to use a tractor with a grading blade attached. For every 100 feet of soil, slope the soil, so it drops 1-4 feet.

Part Three: Tilling and Smoothing Your Soil

1. Add a 6-inch layer of topsoil over your existing soil. Doing this makes your soil healthier and helps your sod grow. It doesn’t matter which topsoil you use. You can also use manure or compost if you can’t get topsoil.

2. Add fertilizer after you get your test results back. Once you know what nutrients your soil lacks and what recommendations come back from your soil test, you can find a fertilizer that meets them. Apply it to the layer of topsoil you lay down.

3. Fill the top 4 inches of soil with a rototiller. Tilling the ground helps mix in the topsoil and added fertilizer, as well as loosen the dirt. This makes it easier for the sod roots to attach underground. Avoid tilling the soil more than 1 or 2 times, so it doesn’t damage the soil structure.

4. Fine grade the soil with a dense mat. The process includes packing and smoothing the soil before you pay sod over it. Drag a heavy mat over the surface of the soil several times until smooth. Use a lawn roller if you have a large area. Note that packing down the soil too much will prevent the roots from attaching properly. 

5. Water before you lay down sod. Water your soil, so it’s damp, not soaked. If it gets muddy, wait until it’s dry.

Call Monarch Sod to Order

If you’re ready to purchase sod and have someone install it, we’d love to help. Contact us and order our premium sod today.

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