4 Signs of Bad Sod Installation and How To Fix It

If your back or front yard is bare and you want a quick method of turning it green, sod installation is a better option. It can save you months waiting for planted grass seeds to grow from scratch.

However, things may turn out wrong with bad sod installation. Some mistakes may be easy to spot immediately after installation, while others may take a while before you notice. That’s why it’s essential to be careful during the process, from grass selection to preparing the soil, to laying down the sod strips.

We’ve rounded up signs of improper sod installation and how you can fix them. You’ll also learn what steps you can take before installing your sod to minimize these negative outcomes.

Yellow Sod

The soil and roots on each sod strip should lie flat against the prepared ground. Failure to do so traps air pockets under the sod and prevents water and mineral uptake, causing the sod to turn yellow.

Other reasons for yellow sod include:

  • Mowing your sod too early before it takes root. The mower’s weight stresses it and causes yellow patches.
  • Applying too much nitrogen fertilizer to the soil before sod installation burns the grass to a yellow color.
  • New sod requires more water than established sod. Failure to water at least twice daily may cause yellowing.

How To Fix Yellow Sod

If the sod was laid improperly and formed air pockets underneath, use a roller to flatten it to ensure proper contact with the ground, which helps it absorb nutrients from the soil and regain its green color.

Don’t apply more fertilizer until the grass regains its green color. Also, adjust your watering schedule to shorter, more frequent watering sessions that will counteract evaporation.

Lumpy Sod

If some areas of your lawn are higher than others, that’s bad sod installation. It’s caused by overlapping sod strips to prevent leaving any gaps, which unfortunately may cause lumps.

Lumpy sod can also happen if you don’t level the soil or remove debris on your lawn before laying the sod.

Do I need to put topsoil down before sod? If your current topsoil is less than two inches deep or the soil is clay or sand, you need to add topsoil to improve its texture.

How to Fix Lumpy Sod

Remove the sod where lumps are visible, clear any debris underneath, and level the soil before placing the sod back.

If the lumps were caused by overlapping sod, replace them so that two sod strip seams just touch without leaving space or overlapping.

You can also solve this problem by using a roller to press the sod and flatten the lumpy areas.

Lumpy Sod

Sod Isn’t Flourishing

Is your new sod green? Do the blades look healthy? If that’s not the case, you may not be giving it proper maintenance according to its type.

Another reason is the foot traffic it receives before it has been established fully. Do your kids play there daily? Also, if your pets play and urinate on the grass, it won’t thrive. 

How to Fix Sod That’s Not Flourishing

First, know the type of grass you have so that you can research how to maintain it well.

Lawn grass can be classified according to the climate areas it flourishes best:

  • Cool season grass –  like Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and Fescue.
  • Warm season grass –  like Bahia, Zoysia, Bermuda, St. Augustine, and Centipede.

Research what maintenance is required for your grass type regarding watering, mowing, and fertilizer application.

Keep your children and pets off the grass until it takes root because heavy foot traffic and pet urine will destroy it.

Sod Isn’t Taking Root

If your sod hasn’t established roots after two weeks, that’s bad sod installation. New sod should establish its roots two to six weeks after installation, but that won’t be the case if you don’t place it firmly or place it over existing grass on the ground.

How To Fix Sod That’s Not Taking Root

You can use a roller to flatten the sod. Rolling pushes the grass roots firmly to the ground and helps them establish faster. Water the sod after rolling to ensure the roots get wet so they’ll absorb nutrients from the soil faster.

What To Do Before Sod Installation

The following tips can save you from the worst-case scenario of having to remove all the sod and purchase again, which isn’t pocket-friendly.

Here’s what to do:

  • Get rid of pebbles and sticks and till the ground to remove grass and weeds, then water the soil to soften it. 
  • Research a reliable sod supplier so you don’t purchase sod susceptible to disease.
  • Pick the right grass. If you have kids, grass like Empire Zoysia withstands heavy foot traffic, and St Augustine grass is ideal if you have pets. It’s not affected by dog urine. 
  • Sod should be cut, delivered, and installed on the same day before it dries out.

FAQs Bad Sod Installation

How long after laying sod can you roll it?

You can roll sod after 14 days. If you roll it earlier than that, you may damage the roots. Skip rolling if there’s heavy rain after installing the sod. The rain will saturate the sod, and rolling it in this state will compact it and prevent good root establishment.

Should new sod have gaps?

New sod shouldn’t have gaps unless you want such a pattern. If you don’t want gaps, position the sod strips as close together as possible, and if you notice gaps afterward, fill them with any leftover sod.

Is it normal for new sod to be yellow?

If sod was cut and rolled but wasn’t installed immediately, it may turn yellow due to lack of sunlight. Yellowing can also be caused by applying too much fertilizer, which burns the sod. It can also be caused by underwatering the grass.

Why is my new sod lumpy?

Sod appears lumpy if you don’t level the soil before installing it. Lumps can also be caused by overlapping the sod strips during installation. As you overlap to prevent gaps, you might end up with lumps.

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