There are two main options when it comes to preparing a new lawn: seeding or laying sod. Sod has the advantage of being generally weed free and is much less likely to be washed away by rain. Additionally, you'll have lush green grass right away, without having to wait for seeds to sprout and grow. This guide will tell you how to go about laying sod.
Preparing for Sod
First, you'll need to measure your yard and order sod. It's a good idea to over estimate a little. That way, if some sod gets damaged during installation, you'll have extra. You can order sod from a variety of places, but ordering directly from a sod farm is probably your best option. You'll save money by cutting out the middleman, and you'll get a fresher product. You'll also need to decide on what type of grass you want. This will depend largely on your particular environment as well as your tastes. The source you order from will be able to give you a better idea of your options.
To make sure your new sod takes properly, it's best to do some ground preparation by leveling it, tilling it, and making sure it's free of rocks. Start with leveling. Rake (preferably, using a landscaping rake) the soil from high areas to low areas. Obviously, you won't be able to get it perfectly level, but you want to fill in any holes and make sure all the soil has been turned.
Next, use shovels (you'll need both regular and flat shovels) to edge around driveways, sidewalks, etc. You want the grass to fit nicely against these boarders. Cut in along them about an inch deep. Then, use a rake to taper the tilled dirt back into the yard at an angle, blending it in with the rest of the ground.
The last step in preparing your yard is to spread a starter fertilizer. What kind you need to use will depend on the type of sod you're getting and the climate you're in. The source of your order (especially if you ordered directly from a sod farm) should be able to tell you what kind of fertilizer is best. You might even be able to get fertilizer directly from them.
Sod can come in several different shapes and sizes: long rolls or different sized squares or rectangles. Whatever the case, installation is generally going to be the same. Start by creating a border of sod around your yard. This will help you to maintain straight lines as you lay the rest of the sod. Of course, most yards don't have perfectly straight lines, so you may have to cut sod to fill in some gaps as you go along.
Next, lay the rest of the sod, working from the border and going inward. Stagger alternating rows (like laying bricks) to prevent wash out. This will also help the growth of the grass. Make sure the edges of each piece of sod are connected to the surrounding pieces. The most efficient way to do the job is to work on a section of three or four rows at a time rather than doing one long row before moving on to the next.
When working on hills, lay sod in rows horizontal to the slope. If you lay it vertically, water could end up rushing along the seams of the sod, creating divots and washing it out.
Once you've finished laying the sod, water it thoroughly. You want the soil to be soft enough for your finger to sink into. Water the sod daily for the first couple weeks to help it take root. You'll want to avoid mowing it during this period. It should be okay after a couple weeks, but to be safe, keep the mower blade higher than usual, and keep an eye on the sod as you go. Your new lawn should be ready for regular use within two to three weeks!