Installing sod can be an exciting project as you will soon have a new yard for your home. Before you jump straight in and start placing orders, it may help to plan and budget accordingly so that you have all the necessary tools needed to lay sod ahead of time. This will ensure you complete the installation process properly and keep you from wasting time and money.
Read below to get a better idea of all the tools and materials you will need to ensure you install your new lawn successfully. Once you have a better idea of the tools you will need, be sure to read our step-by-step guide on how to lay sod, and how to care for new sod.
1. Soil Analysis Kit (Optional)
The soil analysis kit is definitely recommended when you’re installing a new lawn; however it’s not mandatory to get the job done. A soil analysis kit can be used to test the soil to determine the overall health of your soil. Even though you’re removing the old grass, the soil kit will provide information like which nutrients your soil is plentiful in and which nutrients it needs.
From there, you can use the results like a roadmap to make sure your new lawn grows successfully.
It also helps balance your soil’s pH so that when you apply nutrients found in fertilizer, your grass is able to actually absorb them. In other words, if your soil’s pH is off, nutrients won’t be absorbed as effectively, meaning the fertilizer you apply may be a waste of money.
Taking a soil analysis and sending it to a laboratory is affordable, but typically takes about two weeks to complete depending on where you send it. Keep this timeframe in mind before installing sod so that you have enough time to receive results and determine what your soil needs.
Lastly, this step should be completed before applying a non-selective herbicide. Once applied, the chemicals in the herbicide may alter your soil pH temporarily before returning back to normal. Take a soil test before applying a non-selective herbicide for a more accurate reading. Be sure to check out our article on How to Test Your Soil for more information on soil tests.
2. A Non-Selective Herbicide
One of the very first things you’ll need during the sod installation process is a non-selective herbicide or some other glyphosate-based product to kill your old grass. Killing the grass first makes it significantly easier to remove.
The difference between a selective and a non-selective herbicide is that a non-selective herbicide kills all vegetation it comes in contact with—so be careful not to get it on any desired shrubs, trees or your garden. A selective herbicide only works to kill the weeds it’s labeled to kill.
Be sure the product you purchase is a non-selective herbicide that will kill everything it comes in contact with to ensure your lawn is completely dead. A non-selective herbicide is more effective in making sure your old grass (along with previously existing weeds) doesn’t invade your new sod.
Killing your old grass before removal makes the process easier as you won’t be fighting deep roots. Wait 3–4 days after the first application before making a second application. Follow all label instructions and safety precautions with your glyphosate product.
3. Sod Cutters or a RotoTiller
When you’re ready to remove the dead grass, a sod cutter or rototiller will prevent you from enduring any back-breaking labor. A sod cutter or rototiller will remove the top layer of grass and debris to create a smooth and graded surface for laying new sod.
This type of machinery can seem daunting at first. Walk-behind sod cutters and rototillers can be expensive and are only used every so often, so we recommend renting one for a few hours from a local hardware store like Home Depot. Another option is to look into renting CLASSEN® equipment in different locations here. They’re also not that hard to use. For more information on sod cutters and when to use them, check out How to Use Sod Cutters When Sod Needs Removal.
4. Topsoil and a Rake for Leveling
Topsoil and a landscape rake are needed for leveling the soil out after you’ve removed the dead grass. All you should have left is soil. Use a landscape rake such as the one pictured below to loosen up the soil and organic matter across your whole lawn.
Next, you will want to use the backside of the landscape rake, which is a smooth, flat surface, to level out the surface of the soil. A landscape rake in particular is helpful for this process because you can use both sides to get the job done.
Topsoil is needed if you find that you need to add more soil to your yard to level it out during this process. The amount of topsoil you will need depends on the size of your yard. We recommend using our area calculator tool to find out how many square feet you will need to cover, and then use the topsoil calculator here to see how much topsoil you will need for your yard: http://www.topsoilcalculator.net/.
5. Sprinkler (Optional)
After you have pulled up organic matter and added topsoil to your yard in step 5 of the installation process, it’s a good idea to let the soil settle some more so that you can get a better visual for how leveled your yard is before installation. You can either choose to wait for rainfall if it is forecasted in the near future or you can use a sprinkler to accomplish this task.
6. Wheelbarrow or Wagon
A wheelbarrow or wagon that comes with pneumatic tires is useful for when you are laying sod in step 6 of the installation process. If you have to transport sod from one section of a yard to another, consider the use of one of these helpful tools. A three-wheeled wheelbarrow or one that has legs for it to rest on is less prone to tip over.
7. Utility Box-Cutter or Garden Knife
In step 6 on the installation process, laying the new sod, you will need to cut individual pieces of sod into irregular shapes to fit different landscaping curves in your yard. The razor of a box-cutter works well and if you have a few spare razor blades, you should be fine. A garden knife will be helpful for cutting sod, weeding and digging as well.
You can read more about some handy tips when laying your new sod in our Tips for Your Next Sod Job article.
8. Lawnifi New Lawn Starter Box
Lawnifi® is a fertilizer program powered by Catalyst TechnologyTM. The New Lawn Starter Box contains everything a new lawn needs during establishment to develop thick, healthy grass. The New Lawn Starter Box contains two bottles of Grow and one bottle of Maintain.
Start applying the first bottle of Grow right after laying the sod at half rate (use half the bottle). Grow is designed to quickly establish roots with highly available phosphorus, potassium and carbon that benefits rooting, plant strength and growing quality. This gives the sod you are about to lay an immediate, accessible boost of necessary establishment nutrients.
The soil should be moist 3–4 inches deep. You’ll apply the remainder of this first bottle between days 2 and 5 as you’ll see in How to Care for New Sod. Then follow the schedule that comes with the box and read When to Fertilize Newly Installed Sod for more information.
9. Landscape Edger (Optional)
This tool will be used after you have laid out your new sod. A landscape edger should be used to trim around corners and at the edges of sod pallets where they don’t fit precisely. You can also use a machete or outdoor blade as well.
Usually, sod pallets are cut by the sod harvesters in slight angles. You can use this to your advantage to get tighter seams by matching the angle on the pieces to fit together as snuggly as possible. Use the edger in every other place necessary.
10. Sod Roller (Optional)
One of the last tools you will need is a lawn roller to roll out your new sod so that is evenly pressed into the soil for proper growing and smoothness. This is another tool you will use rarely and can seem quite expensive.
You can purchase them online for about $75.00, or rent one for a day for about $20.00 from a local hardware store like Home Depot.
If you’ve used our installation guide and finished with your new lawn, congratulations! Now you know how to install sod and how to use these new tools. Now, you may be at the “now what?” stage. Check out the two articles below and don’t forget to subscribe to Sod University, our free educational newsletter we send out on lawn and garden.