Today on Sod U, we share a few tips and tricks for your next sod job. There are no firm statistics on the number of times a person will lay sod in their lifetime, but chances are you will only lay sod once or twice. This makes the possibility of learning from your mistakes rather difficult. Below are a few helpful tips from folks who have done it a few hundred times and made every possible mistake. Learn from our mistakes so your next sod job goes more smoothly.
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Tip 1: Sod Delivery and Placement
A truck driver will be delivering and dropping off sod pallets to your yard. It is important to consider where the driver will place the pallets when they are dropped off. If you are sodding your backyard and would like to have the pallets placed there, you need to check with the company delivering the sod to confirm that they will deliver them to your backyard. Unfortunately, many companies will not do this and will only place them in the front or side of your yard or on the driveway. If they can place the pallets in your backyard, confirm the minimum width necessary for their forklift to access your backyard and make sure your access is wide enough. Otherwise, you will need to make plans to manually transport the sod (piece by piece) from the front yard to the backyard. Watch the video below to get a better idea of how a forklift will operate in transporting the sod to your backyard in one easy step.
This homeowner was lucky enough to have a double-wide gate (over nine feet wide) that would accommodate this wider-than-normal forklift.
Also, do not have the pallets of sod placed in the area where you intend to lay the sod. You don’t want the pile of sod pallets to get in the way of laying sod. If you have to do this, make sure you can lay all the sod and remove the pallet before you need to get to that section of the yard.
Tip 2: Use Wagons or Wheel Barrels
If you do have to transport sod from one section of a yard to another, consider the use of a heavy-duty wagon with pneumatic tires to facilitate this task. Wheel barrels can also work but are prone to tip over if they are overloaded. A three-wheeled wheel barrel is less prone to tip over.
Tip 3: Have the Appropriate Labor
Getting sod transplanted as soon as possible is always important; you definitely want to get your sod planted on the same day it arrives. Do not make the mistake of having too little labor on hand when sod arrives. For someone who has never laid sod before, laying one or two pallets in an eight-hour day is not too daunting of a task for two people; however, laying five to seven pallets with only one to two people can be challenging in only eight hours.
A team of three is ideal to lay sod, regardless of the quantity of sod being laid. This approach allows you to have three specialized roles and to trade off roles periodically, so that all can share in the hard work. Teams of three can be utilized for larger-than-normal jobs.
This person is on their hands and knees placing the sod tightly together. This person is working quickly because they are only laying full pieces of sod; someone else will cut and place the odd-sized pieces. Being on your knees gets old after an hour, so trading off is recommended.
Pictured above: the completed work of the person in role 1. They are only laying solid pieces of sod and leaving the irregular-shaped areas to the person in role 3.
This person is grabbing the sod off the pallet and handing it to the person in role 1. If necessary, this person is also loading up the wagon and transporting the sod to the person in role 1. This person is also setting aside any imperfect pieces of sod so they can be used by the person in role 3 (we will discuss this in the next paragraph). Role 2 requires some upper arm strength, and unless you are regularly active, expect to be sore the next day. Again, exchanging roles with others minimizes either of you having too many aches and pains the next day.
This person is pulling from the imperfect pieces of sod set aside by the person in role 2 and hand-cutting them into the odd-sized pieces of sod required by curves, edges and other non-rectangle shapes that exist in most yards. Almost every pallet of sod will have some imperfect pieces—either some on top that get damaged by the straps that hold down a pallet on a truck, or pieces from the bottom of the pallet that have been damaged by being on the bottom. Don’t fret over these damaged pieces; it’s normal. Instead, use them.
Pictured above: damaged pieces of sod from the bottom of the pallet. Sometimes pieces of sod on top of the pallet get damaged by the truck straps that hold the pallet in place. This is normal. Set these pieces aside for use by the person in role 3.
It is not recommended that you cut up pristine pieces of sod for odd-shaped pieces; use those for the middle of your yard. The person in role 3 will follow behind the person in role 1 (who is moving quickly and laying full pieces of sod) and will take the time to do the careful, meticulous work of cutting and placing the odd-sized pieces. This person will need to have the right tools to hand cut sod.
Pictured above: Person in role 3 cutting and placing the irregularly shaped pieces of sod.
Tip 4: Have the Right Hand Tools
Pictured above: Curves in the edge of a lawn require irregularly shaped pieces of sod to be cut.
The person in role 3 will need to cut individual pieces of sod into irregular shapes, so having the right tool is important. So is cutting the sod correctly. Once you decide where you have to cut, flipping the sod pieces upside down and cutting from the root-side has proven to be quite effective. One hand tool you might already possess that can do the job is a heavy-duty utility knife-box cutter with quick-change blades. The razor sharpness works quite well and as long as you have a few spare razor blades, you should be fine. Another option, which you can easily buy online for about $20, is a small hand tool for cutting sod, weeding and digging.
Once you have successfully installed sod into your lawn, be sure to water it thoroughly by following our watering schedule on the Establishing a Newly Installed Lawn page and follow the fertilization schedule with our Lawnifi® New Lawn Starter Box.
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Now that you have read a few of our best tips, tricks and advice on installing sod, find out how much sod you may need to order to cover your yard in our blog, How Many Square Feet are on a Pallet of Sod? If you plan to have a company professionally install your sod, be sure to take a look at our How to Choose a Sod Installation Company: What to Look For blog.