How to Lay a Turf Lawn

Learn how to lay turf and earn a beautiful lawn with this step-by-step guide in early fall or spring, giving the grass plenty of time to flourish.

Related To:
Well Maintained Lawn and Flower Borders

Well Maintained Lawn and Flower Borders

The finished lawn sodding creates a look of maintenance and sense of space between the beds of flowering perennials and annuals.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Materials Needed

  • spade or fork
  • rake
  • hoe
  • all-purpose granular fertilizer
  • served topsoil mixed with horticultural sand
  • wooden plank
  • broom
  • garden hose
  • edger

Step 1: Prepare Soil

Remove Weeds and Prepare Soil for Sod

Remove Weeds and Prepare Soil for Sod

Remove Weeds and Prepare Soil for Sod

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Remove Weeds and Prepare Soil for Sod

Two months before the turf arrives, weed the site thoroughly. Dig 4 inches of organic matter into the soil, and dig plenty of grit into heavy clay to increase drainage.

Step 2: Tread Over the Plot

Tread Over Length of Plot with Heels Down

Tread Over Length of Plot with Heels Down

Tread Over Length of Plot with Heels Down

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Tread Over Length of Plot with Heels Down

Level the area with a rake, then keep your weight on your heels and tread over the length of your plot. Repeat at a right angle across the width.

Step 3: Apply Fertilizer

Rake Over Area to Level Soil Before Adding Sod

Rake Over Area to Level Soil Before Adding Sod

Rake Over Area to Level Soil Before Adding Sod

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Rake Over Area to Level Soil Before Adding Sod

Rake the ground level to remove any depressions. Leave for five weeks for the soil to settle, then hoe to remove weeds. Apply an all-purpose fertilizer.

Step 4: Unroll the Turf

Roll Out Turf and Tamp Down with Rake

Roll Out Turf and Tamp Down with Rake

Roll Out Turf and Tamp Down with Rake

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Roll Out Turf and Tamp Down with Rake

Carefully unroll the turf, laying whole pieces down and working out from an edge. Stand on a plank to distribute your weight, and tamp down with a rake.

Step 5: Lay Turf in Rows

Lay Turf in Rows and Stagger Joints

Lay Turf in Rows and Stagger Joints

Lay Turf in Rows and Stagger Joints

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Lay Turf in Rows and Stagger Joints

Continue to lay the turf in rows, and stagger the joints like a wall of bricks. This produces a much stronger structure. Use an old knife for cutting if necessary.

Step 6: Create a Tight Seam

Create Tight Seam Butting Pieces of Sod Together

Create Tight Seam Butting Pieces of Sod Together

Create Tight Seam Butting Pieces of Sod Together

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Create Tight Seam Butting Pieces of Sod Together

Butt pieces together so they almost overlap, and press the crease down firmly with your thumbs.

Step 7: Lay Small Pieces in the Middle

Firm in Pieces of Sod with Rake Head

Firm in Pieces of Sod with Rake Head

Firm in Pieces of Sod with Rake Head

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Firm in Pieces of Sod with Rake Head

Don’t use small pieces of turf at the edge of the lawn; they will dry out and shrink—instead lay them in the middle of the site. Firm in well with a rake.

Step 8: Shape the Lawn's Edges

Shape Curved Lawn Edges with Help of Garden Hose

Shape Curved Lawn Edges with Help of Garden Hose

Shape Curved Lawn Edges with Help of Garden Hose

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Shape Curved Lawn Edges with Help of Garden Hose

Use a garden hose or rope to mark out the curves, and then cut around your template with an edger or sharp spade.

Step 9: Blend the Turf

Use Stiff Brush to Blend Turf Together with Sand

Use Stiff Brush to Blend Turf Together with Sand

Use Stiff Brush to Blend Turf Together with Sand

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Use Stiff Brush to Blend Turf Together with Sand

To help adjacent pieces of turf to grow together and root firmly, brush in a blend of sieved topsoil and horticultural sand using a stiff broom.

Step 10: Water the Lawn Frequently

New Sod Should Be Well Watered During Summer

New Sod Should Be Well Watered During Summer

New Sod Should Be Well Watered During Summer

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

New Sod Should Be Well Watered During Summer

Keep the lawn well watered all summer. This is especially important during dry spells when there is a risk of shrinkage. If cracks do appear, brush in some soil.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Fertilize Your Lawn and Garden

Learn how adding fertilizer can be beneficial, especially for fruits, veggies and container plants. Fertilizers can also help kick-start growth after planting and reinvigorate plants that have been pruned hard.

Watering Lawns and Gardens

Thorough, careful watering encourages deep, drought-resistant roots in your lawn and garden. Follow the steps below to ensure best results.

Tips for Watering Lawns and Gardens

Without adequate water, plants will suffer and eventually die. Supplies can run short as rapidly growing plants draw up moisture from the soil. It's important to know what to water and how.

How to Create a Level Lawn

Create a level lawn and prevent future problems with this step-by-step landscaping guide to remove bumps and hollows.

How to Plan and Design Your Lawn

Learn how to plan and design your outdoor grass and garden spaces with these landscaping tips.

How to Care for Your Lawn

Learn how to properly care for your lawn all year round with our expert tips on mowing, watering and feeding your grass.

How to Repair Lawn Edges

If not repaired, damaged edges will continue to deteriorate, and like any bare patch, they also provide an open invitation for weeds to establish. Reseeding a damaged edge is rarely effective, so try tackling the problem using this simple technique.

How to Repair Bald Spots in Your Lawn

Find out how to get bald spots in your lawn to start sprouting.

How to Lay Sod

The best time to lay sod is early fall or early spring. Keep the lawn well watered, or sod will shrink and curl.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.