Planting a Lawn with St Augustine Sod


By Rick Orr
Irrigation running on a St Augustine lawn
Step One to a great lawn is a great irrigation system - with a great timer, a powerful pump, commercial heads with overlapping spray patterns

Step One: Irrigation

Step one to a great lawn is a great irrigation system. It must have a modern internet-connected timer, a powerful pump, remote-controlled valves, and the right pipe sizes. The layout of the heads must create overlapping spray patterns over the entire lawn – Head A must reach Head B and Head B must reach Head A and C and Head C must reach Head A and B, so on and so on.

Turf Tip: Don’t wait until the sod arrives to water your lawn. Turn on the irrigation now and run it like you have the greatest lawn in the county until the sod arrives. This will bring the soil to life. A moist living soil is the best planting medium for sod.

A lawn stripped of old sod and ready for new sod
A lawn prepared for sod by remove and replace. The sod was removed by a sod cutter and thrown away. The area was leveled with a rake.

Step Two: Prepare

Step two is the proper preparation of the area to be sodded. If it is bare soil with no existing lawn, just level the bare soil and plant the sod. If you are renovating an existing lawn, the best way to prepare for sod is to remove and replace. This is done with a sod cutter and a dumpster. Set the sod cutter to 1 - 2” deep and cut the existing lawn. Remove the old lawn and throw it in a dumpster. If done correctly, the area to be planted will be ready for sod. Level to remove footprints and place the sod directly on the soil.

Turf Tip: The primary goal of preparing your lawn for sodding is to have soil to soil contact – where the soil side of the sod is in contact with the soil of your lawn. The best way to get the soil to soil contact is to strip the existing weeds and such from your lawn with a sod cutter. This not only exposes the soil for soil to soil contact but often leaves a level surface.

A man taking sod from a wheelbarrow and placing on a lawn
Sodding is as simple as placing the sod on the ground, soil to soil contact and edge to edge.

Step Three: Plant

Planting sod is as simple as placing the sod pieces edge to edge and trimming borders. No special technique or tips here – just get the sod on the ground, green side up. There are about 450 pieces of sod per pallet and sodding goes quickly if you get in a quick-paced rhythm of picking up sod and throwing it into place – and set your mind to doing just that - 450 times!

Step Four: Water

Water, water, water! The number one determining factor for the success or failure of your new lawn is water (If you don’t have an irrigation system, see step one). The goal is to not let your lawn dry out during the first 30 days. Most drying occurs during the day. Therefore, you should water during the day. I recommend watering at an hour after sunrise and again 8 - 10 hours later.

Turf Tip: You cannot kill your lawn with water, but it will die in hours from the lack of it.  If you are going to err, err on the side of a generous amount of water.

Step Five: Fertilizers and Mowing

The sod comes from the sod farm in good shape. There is no need to fertilize. It needs water more than anything else. From May through June it would be wise to start lawn spraying within a week of the sod being laid to protect against sod webworms. Other times of the year start a good lawn spraying program within 4 – 8 weeks.

Allow the sod to root firmly in the soil before mowing. When you do mow, raise the mower as high as it will go and then mow. The higher you mow your lawn, the better your lawn will be.

Rick Orr Owner-Staff Agronomist Barefoot Grassl/Creator of ILOVETURF.COM
Staff Agronomist at Barefoot Grass

Since 1995, Rick Orr has worked in Pinellas County providing turf management and pest control. Rick Orr is a graduate of VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology) and the creator of 

Since graduating from VA Tech in 1979, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts, and large communities. Rick has obtained certifications in arboriculture, landscape, irrigation, and taught Environmental Horticulture at St Petersburg College. 

Currently, Rick is the Staff Agronomist at Barefoot Grass in Largo, FL. To learn more about Barefoot Grass Free Price Quote from Barefoot Grass for Home Pest Control and/or Lawn Care 

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