Installing nursery sod is the quickest way to transform a sand lot into a lush and inviting lawn. Is it labor intensive? Yes. But the transformation is amazing and fast. Before you get started, you will need to calculate how many square yards that you want your new lawn to cover. This is where a long measuring tape will come in handy. Simply measure the length and width of the area that you want to cover and multiply the two numbers to get your square yardage.

For example: if the area you want to cover is 30 yards long and 20 yards wide, your square yardage is 600 sq yards. If your yard is an irregular shape, simply break it down into smaller areas and measure them individually–then total the areas for your overall sq yardage. Once you have determined your total sq yardage, its time to order your topsoil. You can look in your local yellow pages to find the nearest supplier of topsoil, or check with your local landscaping company for suppliers. You will need enough topsoil to provide a layer at least 6″ deep over your whole lawn area. Your local topsoil supplier can tell you how much you will need if you supply them with the sq yardage you wish to cover–most suppliers will deliver the soil as well.

With your topsoil now on site, you can either hire a local contractor or choose to spread the soil yourself. If you have a small area to cover, the wheelbarrow, shovel and rake method might be for you. For larger areas, it might be worth hiring someone with a tractor or excavator to spread the soil. One of the advantages of having your soil spread by a contractor is that it will be compressed in the process of spreading. Now that your soil is spread, it is time to prepare it for sod. If your soil was spread by machine, all you will need to do is rake the surface with a garden rake–adding soil here and there to fill in any low spots. If your soil was spread by hand, you will need to roll it first to compress the soil before raking. You can either rent or buy a roller–I recommend the type that is filled with water, as you can adjust the weight by adding or removing water as needed.

Once you have the soil compressed and raked, you can order your sod. The sod could be ordered before you finish soil preparation, but make sure that it does not arrive too soon, as sod deteriorates quickly, if not installed and watered. Again, you can consult the yellow pages or check with your local landscaping firm to find a sod supplier.

You can let the sod run a bit over the edges of your topsoil, and use a sod cutter to correct the length once you have all the sod down. This is where the stakes and string come in to play–if you have straight lines that you need to cut–just put a stake in the ground at one end and pull the string tight to the other end and stake it in place. Then use the taught string as your cutting guide.

After you have all your sod down and cut to fit, roll the whole surface once more–this removes any air pockets and gives the sod solid contact with the soil. Also, drive a couple of stakes into any sods that are on steep slopes–if the slope is a bit of a challenge to walk on–stake the sods. Staking sods in this manner helps to keep them in place until the roots take hold. Now all you need to do is water your new lawn daily, for the next two to three weeks to insure good root growth. Then remove the stakes, mow and enjoy.

Materials and Tools Needed: measuring tape, garden shovel, wheelbarrow, nursery sod, 3lb hammer, sod cutter, topsoil, stakes, string’ roller, rake.

Work Safe: when handling heavy materials, lift with your legs, not your back.