If possible, have a soil test for nutrients and pH. Test kits are available from your local extension office. Till the soil to a depth of 6 inches and rake the area smooth. Water the area to allow for settling and re-rake the uneven areas. Spread and rake in the amount of fertilizer recommended by your soil test. If you didn’t get a soil test, rake in 20 lbs. of 5-10-10 and 50 lbs. of lime per 1,000 square feet.
Begin laying the sod immediately after it is delivered. It is a living, perishable product and will decompose rapidly in warm weather. The soil should be moist when the sod is installed over it. While you work, store excess sod in the shade or another cool area. Begin by laying the pieces along the longest straight edge available. Butt and push edges and ends against each other snugly. Stagger the joints in a brick-like fashion. Do not stretch the sod to fit in a space. Roll the installed sod lightly to ensure good soil contact with the roots.
Begin watering the sod within 30 minutes of installation. Give the sod 1 inch of water immediately. Use a rain gauge or tuna can to measure the amount of water applied. Water at least once per day, in the morning, if there is no natural rainfall. If daytime temperatures exceed 90 degrees water at least twice per day. Avoid late afternoon or night watering as much as possible. After 2 weeks, water less frequently. Sandy soils will need more water than clay soils. After 6 weeks, the sod should receive at least 1 inch of water per week at one time. Light, frequent watering will cause shallow rooting and leaf diseases. If the sod is installed in July or August, it is very important to water correctly. While the sod needs adequate moisture at this time of year, overwatering will cause Brown Patch, an especially ugly fungus disease.
Sharpen mower blades before the first mowing. Mow tall fescue at a height of 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches; bermudagrass and zoysia may be mowed much lower. Mowing too closely will injure tall fescue. Do not run your mower over bare ground or gravel. Remove only 1/3 of the leaf surface at one time.
Tall Fescue: Apply 30 lbs. of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet in October or November. In March apply 10 lbs. of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet. Do not fertilize in the summer! Turf in shaded area will need less fertilizer. Have your soil tested for pH or apply 50 lbs. of lime per 1,000 square feet every 3 years.
Zoysia/Bermudagrass: Since zoysia and bermudagrass are dormant in the winter, a different fertilization program is required. We recommend that you apply 10 lbs. of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet, per month, from mid-April until mid-August. This would be a total of 50 lbs. per 1,000 square feet for the entire summer.