Solve Common Lawn Problems

Solve Common Lawn Problems

A good first step in planting any lawn is testing soil.

Photo by: Johnson Giles, Loch & Key Productions

Johnson Giles, Loch & Key Productions

A good first step in planting any lawn is testing soil.


Creating a lush, healthy lawn takes careful preparation. The process all starts by making sure your soil is properly prepped and ready for the sod. And that all begins with a soil test.

Materials Needed

  • lawn sod, amount depends on area
  • PVC cement
  • sprinkler timer
  • 3/4-inch PVC pipe
  • 1-inch PVC Pipe
  • assorted 1-inch and 3/4-inch PVC adapters
  • rakes
  • rotary tiller
  • shovels
  • sod roller
  • garden hose
  • soil sample kit

Step 1

Test Your Soil's pH

Soil pH is the measure of a soil’s level of acidity or alkalinity, and it affects how well grass can pick up nutrients from the soil. Check with your local extension agent on the best pH level for the grass in your area. In addition to learning the pH level, taking a soil sample will give a pretty good indication of your soil’s texture and structure. Does it include too much clay? Is your soil extremely hard? Based on what you find when digging into the soil, you could decide to till the soil and work in some organic material before laying down new sod or seed. There are at-home soil pH testing kits available, or your local extension office should be able to analyze the soil sample you take from your lawn. Take samples from a minimum of 10 spots in your lawn. You should dig at least 4 to 6 inches deep (the depth you’ll want your lawn’s roots to grow) and provide the extension office with a clean, dry soil sample.

Step 2

Clear the Area

Clear the area where you'll be installing sod. Renting a rotary tiller will make the job go much quicker. Put on safety glasses and till the area exposing fresh dirt below.

Step 3

Rake the Soil

After tilling, rake the soil to remove any sticks and clumps of old grass. If there is live grass under the sod, it will die and rot and poison the roots of the new sod, causing brown spots.

Step 4

Spray the Area

Spray the area with water to moisten the soil. Laying sod down on dry dirt will cause the new sod to die.

Step 5

Lay Sod

Begin laying strips of sod. Offset the seams in each row, as you would if you were laying bricks for a wall. If you need to install sod around a patio or landscape feature, trim it just like you would carpet using a utility knife.

Step 6

Keep Sod Moist

Keep the sod moist as you lay it, and hose it down after you're finished. Keep the seams tight, they will dry out faster than the center of the sod panels if they are left exposed.

Step 7

Roll the Sod

Run a sod roller over the area to compact the soil of the new sod into the existing soil of the yard.

Step 8


Give your new sod long waterings. If your lawn has an irrigation system, install an automated time to ensure your yard gets regular doses of water.