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How to Install Sod Without Removing Existing Lawn

In my experience if you have an existing lawn it is not always necessary to remove it, in order to install sod,as long as you can level the ground with some organic material.

But remember you will need make the sod level with any edges such as walkways, driveways, or any other surface level with the ground.

To install sod on an existing lawn, cut any existing grass low, and level out any holes or step dips in the yard. Bring in a top soil/ compost mix and spread it evenly through the yard. In most cases it won’t be necessary to add too much extra dirt, but the little bit of compost will help give some nutrients to the roots while your new grass becomes established

How to Remove Existing Lawn

Though it is generally thought to be OK to lay sod over an existing lawn, some landscapers and homeowners prefer to remove any existing lawn before installation of sod.

There are three ways to remove your existing lawn-

Using Chemicals

Using a glyphosphate like Round Up you can spray your existing lawn, and sod over the dead grass.

Using a Tiller or Bedscaper

If you live where rocks and roots are not an issue, you can use a tiller or bedscaper, to till existing grass into the soil. While your at it add some compost and fertilizer, and mix it in. This type of lawn preparation is timely, but may be the best way to really give your sod a head start.

Using a Shovel (and elbow grease)

If you are really determined to remove that grass, and don’t want to use chemicals or can’t use a tiller, then a shovel may just be your best option. It’s a lot of work, but it will get the job done. Be sure your surface is level when you are through


Now that you have prepared the surface its time to make sure that your edges are prepared properly.

You may have already done this in step one of How to Install Sod, but if you have not be sure to now.

Be sure that edges along any paths, parts of the driveway, or garden beds are dug down enough that when the sod is laid it will be even with the surface. Usually this will be about 1 inch below the fixed edge you are installing around.

If you have not already, it’s time to fertilize.

Fertilizing now will allow all of your fertilizer to get fully beneath the surface to feed the roots.Though you can add fertilizer after laying the sod, you may lose some of it due to runoff.

Fertilizers are essential for a green lawn as they aid your new sod with nutrient uptake and improve the soils PH, which allows the roots to establish themselves deeper in the soil, leading to a healthier, happier, and greener lawn.

Now it’s time for the fun part!

Your surface has been leveled and prepared, and it’s time to unroll your brand new lawn!

Start with the longest fixed edge or any edge in the landscape that can not be moved e.x. garden beds, house, sidewalk etc. Using scissors, clippers or a knife cut your edge in, laying the sod parallel to the longest fixed edge.

Tips For A Proper Installation

  1. Start the first run on the longest fixed landscape edge
  2. Be sure to stagger each run so that the short edges don’t line up with each other
  3. Do not Overlap edges
  4. Be sure that the turf is level with any fixed edge, where it needs to be

Finally water in your new lawn, and admire your hard work!

Make sure you water in the new sod for at least one hour per day for the first 10 days,otherwise the investment in your new turf grass will most likely perish, as newly laid sod needs tons of water while it is “rooting” to your lawn.

If you are installing your grass during the summer months, you’ll need to double the watering to at least twice a day for a one hour duration to compensate for the high temperatures . Of course, if you’re lucky enough to get some rain, you will not need to water on that particular day.

Final Maintenance Points

  1. Be sure to maintain proper levels of irrigation while your turf establishes itself
  2. Walk on your new lawn as little as possible, newly laid turf can be fragile for the first few weeks, especially when wet.
  3. Fertilize at least twice a year.
  4. Wait about 2 weeks before cutting the grass.
  5. Once your lawn is established, follow the Lawn Maintenance Guide to keep it in all its glory.