How to lay sod over an existing lawn

Updated February 21, 2017

Laying sod is a quick way to establish a lawn. It is also very important to do it correctly in order to avoid having to lay it again-- at greatly increased expense. Technically, you do not lay sod over an existing lawn. Instead, you place it where the lawn once existed. With that in mind, you must first remove the old lawn and prepare the area for the sod installation. You lay sod by following some basic procedures.

Apply a weed killer at least a week in advance. Scape off any remainder of the existing lawn with a flat-bladed shovel. Dig deep enough to remove the roots of the grass. With a rake, remove any debris such as leaves, branches, rocks and clumps of grass. .

Test the soil to determine its pH level. Add lawn-improvement ingredients such as peat moss or lime if necessary.

Dig up the lawn with a rotary tiller. Make sure the tiller reaches down 6 inches to mix up the soil and any ingredients you might have just added.

Even out the area with a rake. Make sure lawn slopes away from your house and sidewalks. Remove enough soil so that the surface is 1 inch below any sidewalks (or patios) that border where the sod will be placed.

Flatten (or even) the area one more time with a lawn roller.

Water the lawn prior to laying the sod.

Lay full strips of sod along an outside edge of the lawn as soon as it is delivered. Continue laying sod toward the other side of the lawn. Try to finish with a straight strip of sod at the side opposite of where you started.

Lay sod so there are no gaps (or seams) between the strips. Cut any sod that overlaps another section with a sharp knife. Fill in any small creases between the sod strips with dirt.

Press the sod into the surface with a lawn roller.

Water the sod immediately after walking over it with the lawn roller. Continue watering regularly until the sod takes root.


Start at the lowest point if you are laying sod on a slope. Anchor each piece of the sod with stakes to prevent the sod from sliding down the slope.


Do not wait to lay the sod once it is arrives. Lay it as quickly as possible. Don't stretch the strips of the sod. Do not water the lawn prior to grading it and flattening it with a lawn roller. Water will make the soil too compact.

Things You'll Need

  • Weed killer
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Lawn roller
  • Water
  • Knife
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About the Author

John Smith is a writer with over 30 years experience. He has worked at a newspaper, various magazines and websites, and he has interests in a wide range of subjects including sports, politics and entertainment. Smith earned a bachelor's degree in history from the College of New Jersey.