unrolling sod

Photo: WVU Extension Service

Updated: March 2, 2023

Reasons for problems after planting sod 

  • Using sod that dried out prior to planting
  • Improper soil preparation prior to planting
  • Failure to roll the sod, which establishes good root contact with the soil
  • Lack of sufficient water after planting.

Planting sod is one way to establish a new lawn or repair a damaged lawn quickly and can be done during a season when seeding would not be successful. Sod can be planted in the spring, summer, or fall. Choose Maryland Certified sod (look on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website) and one that has the variety of grass you want. To help sod get established, prepare the soil as you would for seeding by loosening it with an iron rake or by shallow rototilling. Work in the necessary lime and fertilizer prior to laying the sod. Add organic matter if the soil is hard and compacted. After the sod is laid, use a lawn roller or other device to press the sod into close soil contact and to even out any irregularities. Keep it watered regularly until established. Water enough to soak the sod and the soil below the sod.

Actively growing sod should establish in two to three weeks after planting. Sod is considered established when roots from the sod have grown into the soil below. Gently pull on a corner of the sod to test for establishment (rooting). If the sod pulls up easily it is not yet established and remains susceptible to drying out.