Never layer the soil with a topical amendment. Always till it in. Level the soil as best as possible. The new soil needs to settle naturally or by watering again. Rake to remove rocks and so the soil has small groves in it. Place the seed on the soil using a seed spreader. Put 1/2 of the seed down in one direction, perhaps lengthwise, and stop. Then put down the other 1/2 of the seed in the other direction. Lightly rake the seed in, and roll the soil lightly with a roller. Placing a thin layer of compost or composed steer manure on top of the seed will hold moisture and aid in seed germination. Do not apply more than 1/8 to 3/16 of an inch of composted steer manure.
Water 3 to 4 times daily for short intervals until the seed germinates. Do not allow puddles to form. If they do the seed will run down to the low spots and uneven grass density will occur. Standing puddles of water will “drown” seeds and kill them. When the plants emerge reduce water frequency but increase application duration so that water will wet the entire depth of the rooting area.
SOD INSTALLATION TIPS
Installation of sod can be a rewarding and satisfying event in landscape enhancement. Below are some of the most common concerns you need to know about sod installation.
Storage — Sod should be stored in a shaded area and/or covered when possible. Water the entire pallet of sod during the course of installation, especially if the sod is exposed to direct sunlight and winds. Wet all the soil and green edges.
Ground Preparation — Soil preparation for laying sod is the same as for seeding grass. Refer to above section on soil preparation for planting turf.
Finished Grade — The final grade should be smooth and level where possible. Avoid sharp dips and “lumps” at grade level. Remove as many stones as possible. Hand raking helps provide a uniform surface. If the soil is too soft the sod will sink and edges will dry out. Roll if necessary at this point.
Direction and Patterns — Start by laying the sod with the “long” edge of the sod running with the length of the site (if the site is not drastically sloped). A sidewalk may be used as a starting point, if it is long and straight. If there are not straight lines to work from place a string-line across the job site. Make sure that the last row of sod strips are at least 6″- 8″ wide where they will lay. Thin strips struggle to grow and dry out quickly. On hilly and highly sloped areas, start the sod running lengthwise across the hill. This will prevent the sod from sliding down the hill. Stake sod pieces with nails or wire strips on steeper slopes.
Joining Sod Pieces — The ends of the sod must be staggered–like cement blocks in a wall. This prevents the sod from sagging downhill on slopes and the ends from drying out as well. Staggered ends also allow the sod pieces to “disappear” more quickly.
Handling Edges — The cut edges should be slightly curled downward before the sod pieces are finally set in place. Curling allows the sod to have “extra room” at the edges, and allows the soil edges to meld after proper rolling. This minimizes drying out which can occur at the edges if the sod shrinks after placement.
Clean Cuts — Cut around obstacles (fixtures, walkways, bed edging, etc.) with a sharp knife. If the sod is “undercut”, drying out will occur. If the sod is over cut, the sod may be elevated within the piece, and be slow to root, or worse, dry out and die. Make cuts around objects first, since recutting is possible before the rest of the sod in that row is installed.
Rolling — Roll over the sod soil in two directions. This forces the sod into the prepared soil bed for quicker rooting; Rolling also pushes the sod pieces together which helps minimize drying out.
Irrigation — Water the sod 3 to 4 times daily for short intervals for 10 to 14 days. Avoid soaking the sod continuously and at night. After the sod begins to “knit” and is hard to pull up, begin to water once per day, for a longer period of time. Then, decrease irrigations to every second or third day.
Information pulled from Arizona Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona.