Introduction

a newly sodded lawn
Photo: Keller & Keller
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Slowing down and watching the grass grow sounds good. In theory. But the reality is that if your lawn needs renewing, you'll be looking at a big patch of dirt for weeks. And why wait, when summer can begin right now—with a lush green carpet underfoot?

When it comes to getting a thick, healthy lawn, nothing beats sod for instant gratification. Sure, it costs a bit more: about $625 to cover a 1,000-square-foot backyard (double that installed). But lay it right and in a couple of weeks you've got a dense, well-established lawn that's naturally resistant to weeds, diseases, and pest infestations.

"You're basically buying time," says This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook. "You're paying for turf that someone else has coddled for 14 to 18 months."

You’re also buying convenience. Sod can be installed spring through fall (and even in winter in mild climates). In areas of the country that favor cool-season grasses, like the Northeast, it avoids the problem of sprouting a nice crop of weeds when seeding a lawn in spring. And in southern states, which favor warm-season grasses like Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and centipedegrass, sod is the best way to cover the yard at any time of year, since these turf types cannot be grown from seed.

"Sometimes sod gets a bad rap, but that's usually because of mistakes people make while laying it," says Roger. "Put down on properly prepared soil, it will thrive."
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    Tools List

    • Gas powered sod cutter
      Sod cutter
    • soil-testing kit
      Soil-testing kit
    • rototiller
      Rototiller
    • wheelbarrow
      Wheelbarrow
    • walk-behind spreader
      Spreader
    • iron rake
      Iron rake
    • sod-cutting knife
      Sod-cutting knife

    Shopping List

    1. Sod

    2. Compost

    3. Sand (if needed)4. Starter fertilizer

    5. Lime (if needed)