From time to time, you may have seen a truck with mat-like rolls of grass and soil on its bed. This is called sod, and it’s real grass. Popular types of sod include: zoysia, Bermuda, St. Augustine, and fescue.
Sod installation can be a DIY project for most homeowners, but having a professional do it has its advantages. Professionals will have special equipment that can lay sod more evenly and reduce the appearance of seams. Every yard is unique, so cost will vary from one to another. Most online price estimates will assume a rectangular, primarily flat and, include the costs of sod, labor, materials, and equipment.
Other factors can affect this figure, the largest of which is the size of the area you want to cover. Most sod installation professionals will charge by the square foot, and as you might expect, the more square-footage needed, the more sod and labor will be involved. Any yard of irregular shape should be measured by the installer before providing an estimate. Keep in mind that curves, small hills, and other such terrain features can affect the measurements of the area, so unless you know how to account for those it’s better to leave the measuring to the professional rather than doing it yourself.
Sod installation professionals may charge extra to install sod in a backyard with limited access. “Limited access” can include problems such as:
- A passage from front to back that’s less than 7′ wide
- How far back a backyard is set (this is a common problem with large houses)
- The ease with which the backyard can be accessed (problems include long driveway, stairs, etc.)
Additional costs are possible for properties on steep slopes, properties that contain a number of rocks and trees, or properties where the soil is very compacted and has to be roto-tilled before sod installation.
Another possible cost issue is steep slopes, which require different techniques for prepping and laying sod. Since gas-powered equipment largely relies on the power of gravity to provide fuel to the system, equipment at an odd angle may not be able to get fuel to the system. That means having to do the work by hand, which will take longer and so cost more. Further, the sod rolls will have to be held down with stakes to prevent slipping.
For those who aren’t DIY but want some control of the process, an alternative to having a sod installation expert do everything is to buy the desired sod and then have it professionally installed. But this might affect guarantees the installer may be offering, so make sure to ask. It can still be beneficial to a homeowner, because there is direct control over what kind and quality of sod is installed. If your yard has an unusual or complex layout. If you’re buying the sod but are going to have a professional install it, the professional will often be the one to do the measuring.
Once sod is installed, it doesn’t take long before it can be walked on—an average of four or five weeks. By contrast, a seed lawn may be less expensive, but it usually needs months before it’s well enough established to be walked on.
Common Obstacles to Sod Installation
- Tree roots. When they run close to the surface, these are the bane of rototillers. Young trees can be killed if their roots are cut; meanwhile, large trees may have roots so thick the roto-tiller can’t cut through them, but can get caught on them.
- Rocks. Large, decorative rocks are another obstacle. If the rocks were installed to enhance a yard and the sod is expected to lay right against them, they will either have to be moved or the surrounding earth will have to be tilled by hand. Rocky soil that has numerous small rocks just below the upper layers can hamper the smoothing of the ground in preparation for receiving the sod.
- Irrigation systems. Obviously, damage to your system can occur when your yard is being torn up. But this is probably the easiest obstacle to handle; just inform the sod installation experts where the system is placed. That said, if you don’t have an irrigation system already in your yard but want one, it’s a good idea to get one installed before the sod goes in. This will help your sod get a foothold and avoid having it damaged later.
Why Choose Professionals For Sod Installation?
Many landscapers charge per square foot, and this price usually includes both installation and sod. Perhaps the biggest reason to hire a professional is the end result. Professional teams know how to hide seams, level slightly uneven ground, work with a variety of slopes, and handle curvy lawn borders and lawns of irregular shape. Other advantages include:
- design (what types of sod will do well in what environments at what time of year, if the shade from trees is adequate, etc.)
- equipment (professionals will already have what they need, so no rental fees)
- time (in most cases a DIY-er could do the work over a weekend, but would probably be sore come Monday)
DIY sod installation is possible, but has drawbacks. Unless you are a professional installer, you increase the chances of costly mistakes. It can also take a lot longer without an experienced crew to do the work. So consider giving your future lawn executive treatment and get your sod installation done by Presidential Landscaping.