A How-To Guide for DIY’ing Your Lawn
So you like to take care of things yourself? Are you a Pinterest guru who loves home projects and seeing what you can accomplish? Then this is right up your ally! Today we’re going to teach you how to prep and install your new lawn yourself, and provide you with some basic aftercare tips.
Preparing your yard for your new sod is one of the most important aspects that will impact the longevity and overall health of your lawn. You want to have a good, healthy base to protect your new investment.
The first step will be to kill off any weeds that are present in your lawn currently. We recommend using an herbicide of your choice. When you do this, make sure to apply your herbicide on a hot, dry day – do NOT use it if rain is expected.
Once the weeds begin to turn brown and die off, your best option would be renting a sod cutter from a rental company. Use the sod cutter to cut out the entire area that will be covered in new sod – not only the dead weeds. Cut out any old sod, rather than placing new sod over any existing vegetation. Once you’ve cut out the entire area, you will want to rake out all the old weeds & grass, and dispose of it. At this point, you should be down to bare soil. Use this time to check your irrigation system for any broken or missing sprinkler heads, and to ensure that your sprinklers are hitting every inch of ground where you new sod will be installed – it would be good if you have overlapping coverage with your irrigation.
Take the time to do any fine grading that might be necessary. Any preexisting low spots will continue to be low if you just lay your new sod without grading the area. The new sod will simply follow the contour of the ground, it will only be as flat as the area you have prepared. Pay close attention to areas where the sod will meet sidewalks, driveways, patios, etc. On average, each piece of new sod will have 1/2 – 3/4 of an inch of soil alone, not including the height of the grass itself. You won’t want your new sod to sit taller than the concrete or pavers.
Now that you’re ready for your new sod, you need to consider which variety is best for your yard. Do you need a shade tolerant variety, or is your desired area full sun? Do you have an active, working irrigation system? Do you have excess foot traffic (kids & dogs that play rough)? How much time are you interested in spending on maintenance? This is where we come in – we’re happy to help narrow down the best variety for your needs.
Who are you going to buy your new sod from? It’s important that when choosing a sod company to purchase from, you make sure to choose a company that offers fresh cut sod to order – if a company has every type of sod sitting in stock waiting to be picked up, there is a chance it’s at least a few days old. The fresher, the better. When ordering from a company who cuts to order, please keep in mind they will likely need your order in advance, and may not be able to offer same-day pickup. Additionally, it’s important to acknowledge that all sod is not the same – if two companies are offering the same variety of sod, but one is at a steep discount, there is likely a reason. It is in your best interest to do your due diligence and ensure you are purchasing from a reputable, licensed company who strives to provide the best quality to their customers.
Once you have your new grass in hand, you ideally want to install it within 24 hours, especially if you choose a hybrid variety (Saint Augustine, Bermuda, Zoysia, etc.). If you choose a native variety (Bahia), you may have a little extra time if you cannot install it immediately.
While installing your new grass, it is important to not leave gaps between pieces, or overlap pieces. Many people choose to stagger their pieces; however, that is not necessary as long as you are installing on flat ground. Once installed, we recommend renting a sod roller; however, that is not always a possibility. In the event you cannot rent a roller, we recommend riding over the new grass on a riding lawn mower or golf cart (be sure to roll over the grass when it is moist, but not saturated). Rolling the sod will compact the new grass into the ground, and eliminate air pockets between the sod and the ground which is necessary to ensure the health of your new lawn.
Great, my grass is installed – we’re done, right? Not quite. Aftercare is an important part in caring for your new lawn. Many people just assume that they need to water it as much as possible at first; however, there’s more to it than that. Over watering your new grass is just as harmful as not watering enough. Each irrigation system is different, so it’s not plausible to give you a set amount of time to water each day; however, our go-to advice is to water until the roots are wet, but if you notice a “squish” when you step on the watered grass, you’ve watered it too much. Additionally, chemical applications such as fertilizer, insecticide, fungicide, etc., are necessary. You can definitely do this yourself; however, the application must be done correctly – not too much, but not too little – so it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to a professional to handle this for you.
Our last bit of advice for your DIY lawn has to do with your first mow. You will want to wait to mow until you can’t pick up any pieces (once the roots have attached). Your mowing height & frequency will depend on the variety you install.