Preparing The Area to Sod

Just like with a good home the foundation is the key to long term stability and strength. Laying the foundation of a new lawn starts before ever picking up the first sod piece. After having measured and marked the areas of lawn to replace you will need to begin preparing the area for your new lawn grass sod. Here are three simple steps on how to begin preparing the area for your new lawn grass sod.

Step 1: Clean the Area of Debris and Remove Existing Vegetation

    To Prepare the area for sod first remove all obstacles such as play sets and construction debris, old tree stumps, rocks, weeds, mulch materials , dead or damaged sod etc. If removing larger sections of turf you can rent a sod cutter from your local garden center or rental store for about $50-$75 dollars.


Getting Rid of Your Old LawnPreparing the area to sod cutter

–    You may opt to till the dead vegetation into the soil,

you will rarely hear me say those words and I am an avid gardener.

Sound surprising? See Why…   

     –If your site has been over run with torpedo grass or other perennial weeds several consecutive applications of a nonselective herbicide may be used to eradicate the problem.

     –Glycophosphate (Roundup) sprayed to the point of runoff, needs to be applied and left for 14 days and then reapplied to all lingering or re sprouting vegetation. Remember 70 percent of the foliage on any plant needs to be sprayed for Roundup to take affect and kill the plants root system so that it does not re-grow again.

    – This is especially important if you are replacing your sod due to a weed infestation.

      -If you are having the work done for you make sure to discuss any weed problems you have had in the last 1-2 years so that they are aware of the problem even if the weeds are not visible at the time!  

–      An alternate solution if you are among those that prefer not to use chemicals would be to “solarize the soil” by waiting until the weeds are in their active growing season and cover the entire area with black plastic or a tarp. This step is difficult to do when living in a subdivision because the tarp must be left on for several months for it to be effective in eradicating the root system of stubborn vegetation.

Step 2: Survey the Grade of the Land, Rough Grade to Level out the Area

 Survey the grade of the land and be sure that there is a gentle slope that will allow water to run away from your house foundation, sidewalks and driveways etc.

– If the water is being stopped from running away from the foundation by a sidewalk or other obstacle that is not movable such as a raised area due to trees raised root system then you may need to install a drain system to carry water out into the yard and away from your foundation during this step.

   Make sure to check for low spots and high spots that need leveled out. These areas need to be shoveled and raked as level as possible.

Step 3: Adding Amendments if Necessary

    Check your soils PH levels. Most popular North Florida lawn grasses including Soil Amendment With Compost CindySt. Augustine, Bahia, Centipede and Bermuda are tolerant of low PH or acidic soils commonly found in North Florida landscapes. In fact both Bahia and Centipede sod are supposed to do better in soils with a PH of 5-7. Knowing your soil PH helps aid the decision of what variety of sod will suit your landscape best.

     Check problematic soils with your local agriculture agent. the phone numbers and contact information for your areas Agricultural Extension agents are listed below. Here in North Florida you can reach them by phone or go directly to their office locations and get help with your yard and garden as well as have soil samples tested for amendment needs.

     In the North Florida Landscape there are some common soil problems with simple solutions to correct those issues during the preparation stage before you begin laying your new sod.

     Often amending soils is a simple matter of adding organic and inorganic soil amendments onto the soil before installing plant material. Knowing what your using and why helps avoid unnecessary use of chemicals that may be damaging our Florida water supply.

Duval County Extension Service

Mailing Address: Duval COunty Extension

1010 N. McDuff Avenue

Jacksonville Florida 32254

Hours: Monday – Saturday 8-5

Phone : 904-255-7450


  Clay County Extension Service

Mailing address: Clay County Extension

P.O. Box 278 Green Cove Springs Florida 32043-0278

Physical Address:

2463 State Road 16 West

Green Cove Springs 32043

Phone: 904-284-6355 or 904-269-6355


St. Johns County Extension Service

Unit Name:  St. Johns County  – Central
Address:3125 Agriculture Center Drive, St. Augustine, FL 32092-0572