The final part of putting in our lawn is installing the sod. Most of the work now is preparing for the ground for the sod.
Seed vs. Sod
In our last house, we put in sod at the same time as some friends of ours planted seeds for the same type of grass. After 4 years, their grass had finally filled in and was starting to look almost like our grass. For 4 years, we and our friends spent the same amount of time and money watering and caring for our lawns. The difference is, we were able to use our lush, green lawn right from the beginning. We got 4 more years of use out of our grass than our friends. To me, that is more than worth the higher cost of sod. Oh yeah, and less weeding.
What type of grass?
There are many, many species of grass that work for lawns. Which one is right depends on where you live and how you will be using your lawn. We live in California, so our lawn HAS to be drought-tolerant. We also have kids that are going to play on the lawn (our main reason for putting it in), so it needs to be a flat turf grass that can take some foot traffic. Unfortunately, that rules out the uber-drought-tolerant grasses like buffalo grass (it’s going in the front yard).
We also learned that the time of year you plan to install your grass also matters. Warm season grass, like the St. Augustine we had planned on, can only be put in as sod during the warm season. Nobody sells them during the winter.
We ended up with a choice between tall fescue and bermuda grass. We went with fescue for two reasons. First, we had it in our previous yard and really liked it. Second, I’ve heard too many horror stories about trying, and failing, to remove bermuda grass. We only want this lawn while we have kids at home. Then it’s coming out.
Preparing the Yard
The ground must be perfectly level before laying sod. We learned this the hard way last time. The flatter and more even the ground, the better the lawn will look. Before we even installed the sprinkler system this time, we leveled out the yard with a 12-foot two-by-four.
After the sprinkler system went in, we leveled it again. Then we let it settle, and leveled out any holes and dips. I have to add that trying to stop our kids from digging holes in the dirt was probably the hardest part.
We prepared the soil with fertilizer too. Mostly nitrogen because of the results of our soil test. Our soil is already a nice loam with plenty of organic matter, so we didn’t need any other amendments.
The day before the sod came, we rented a roller. After filling it up with water from the hose, we pushed it around the yard.
We’d flatten a small area, then go back and break down mounds and fill in holes. Then we’d go back over that area again. Some of the worst places took almost 10 rounds of this.
The kids even had fun trying to push the roller too.
Right before we started laying the sod, we turned on the sprinklers to that the new roots would go into moist ground.
Putting in the sod was a couple hours of work. Much easier and faster than all the steps leading up to it, like installing irrigation valves and a sprinkler system. And sod is much more rewarding when it’s done.
We also made another time-lapse video of installing the sod. My husband sure is amazing.
After the sod was laid, we let the kids walk around on it to make sure all the corners and edges were pushed down. Then no one was allowed to walk on it for more than a week.
We also watered at least once a day for the first week, and then gradually less after that.
How much to water depends on the grass species and your soil.
We will end up watering the lawn about twice a week, depending on the weather.
We still have some more landscaping and planting work to do in the backyard, but the grass makes a huge difference.
I have to admit, a few month ago (when we first started installing the valves for the sprinkler system) my kids told me they didn’t want grass. They liked the dirt. It was fun to dig and play in. Now that we have grass, they love it! You wouldn’t think that such a small rectangle of green could bring so much happiness. But it does! They spend hours everyday running, rolling, chasing, laying, and jumping on that grass. Yes, lawns are good for kids.
You can see our new garden box near the grass in this photo. We’re starting a vegetable garden too, and I’m going to share how I made the box this Friday, so be sure to come back!
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This post was shared at some of my favorite link parties.