How to Add Sod To Existing Lawn

One way to keep your lawn looking fresh and healthy is to conduct consistent maintenance. Sometimes, however, this maintenance isn’t enough or could prove to be too much for the lawn. In some cases, it may be best advised to replace patches or areas of dead, diseased or dying grass with fresh sod. 

Adding sod to existing lawn is a simple process, but some steps need to be carefully considered before beginning the process. To ensure that the transplanted grass looks natural and flush with the rest of the lawn. 

When choosing to add sod to an existing lawn, you must first consider if it’s the best option available, or whether there are other options you could try for the same effect.

Why Should I Add Sod to an Existing Lawn?

Laying sod is an easy and fast way to replenish areas of your garden which may be looking a little worse for wear or cannot sustain grass for whatever reason. Laying sod adds an already established section of grass to your lawn without the need for growing it from scratch. 

There are many reasons to want to use this method to maintain your lawn. Some of the more common reasons for laying new sod to an existing lawn include fixing holes in the yard, levelling the yard, fixing dog damaged lawn or simply to fill out spaces that would benefit from new sod. 

Adding sod to an existing lawn has both its advantages and disadvantages. For example, adding sod to an existing lawn reduces the need for grass seed to be sown, which will save both time and energy. Sowing grass seed may not be beneficial to some individuals due to birds in the area, which may attempt to make a meal of it. In addition to this, it also reduces the amount of watering that needs to take place to ensure that the grass seed germinates correctly.  Even though sod needs to be watered frequently, it is not as delicate a process as watering grass seed, which may oftentimes require the use of a soaker hose.

On the other hand, laying new sod can be invasive and can sometimes be more expensive and laborious than simply sowing grass seed. Laying sod often requires a decent amount of digging and measuring to ensure that the plot is the correct size and depth for the sod to be laid in. 

What is Sod? 

Sod is a cutting of fully-formed grass along with a thin layer of topsoil, held together by the root system. It’s available in rolls of varying sizes for various uses. It’s often used in bulk to replace lawns, spruce up golf courses, and other sports stadiums. It’s used mostly as a quick way of fixing damage or lawn disease, without having to wait for new grass to grow. 

lawn with rolls of sod and visible sod lines

Adding Sod to an Existing Lawn

Adding sod to an existing lawn shares similar techniques as replacing large areas with sod, but at a smaller scale. 

In order to add sod to an existing lawn, the following materials are needed:

  • Square shovel (Any shovel is fine, but a square one is preferable).
  • Garden rake
  • A sod knife or other utility knife
  • Compost/ fertilizer
  • Sod

Once these tools are gathered, the steps can be taken to seamlessly add sod to your existing lawn.

Removing Pre-Existing Grass

Before laying new sod, it’s important to remove the grass in the area which the sod will be laid. In order to do this, dig any pre-existing grass, weeds or debris up in a rectangular shape where the sod will be laid. Dig approximately 2-3” beneath the surface of the grass in order to remove roots and thatch.

Dispose of the waste appropriately, or add it to a compost pile (ensure there are no weeds or any diseased grass when added to the compost).

Loosening Soil 

Loosening soil once the pre-existing grass has been removed will ensure that laying the sod will be easier. In order to do this, use your rake and shovel to displace soil slightly, to promote faster root growth and development once the sod has been laid. You can also begin to level the area at this point, in case there are areas prone to grass bubbles or standing water


Laying a thin layer of compost in the newly-dug hole can provide nutrients for the sod once it is laid, and also promote healthy root growth and development. It will also allow the grass to grow thicker, and potentially blend in better and quicker with the surrounding lawn. If you don’t have compost, there are ways in which you can create compost using grass clippings.


Tamping compost simply means to level it and ensure it is evenly spread across the area. You can use a tamper, or simply press down on it with your foot to ensure it is blended with the exposed soil. You should aim to create a level 1-2” level surface below the topsoil that surrounds the area which is being transplanted. This may require removing or adding compost to ensure it is evenly spread. 

Laying the New Sod

Lay the sod in the area which has been prepared for it. Don’t expect it to fit perfectly, it can easily be adjusted shortly. Line it up as seamlessly to the edge as possible, making sure that it is flush and blends well with the surrounding grass. Once you are satisfied with the way in which the new sod is positioned, it can be trimmed to perfection. 

Trimming the Sod

Using a sod knife or utility knife, you can begin to trim the newly-inserted sod to ensure that it fits in the area which has been dug. Make sure to trim along the edge carefully, making sure the sod fits snugly in the excavated area. You should aim to leave no gaps between the new sod and existing lawn. New gaps will require grass seed, as it is unlikely that grass will spread to them.

Maintaining New Sod

Maintaining new sod is important as it still has the potential to die if maintained incorrectly or poorly. Whilst new sod is easily transplanted and instantly looks more substantial than simply planting grass seed, it still requires additional maintenance to ensure that it thrives and can blend with the rest of the lawn. 

Watering New Sod

Watering new sod needs to be done frequently and on a timely basis to ensure that it thrives. Whilst it may look like substantial, healthy grass, it still has the potential to dry up very quickly as the roots may not have developed fully. This means that new sod should be watered substantially twice a day for the first two weeks, and then once a day for the following month. 

Fertilizing New Sod

New sod can benefit from fertilizer as it can help bolster its appearance and health significantly, as it can with regular pre-existing lawn. Whilst the compost layer that is added before the sod is laid can provide it with some helpful nutrients, fertilizing it can also help in the future. It’s best to fertilize your new sod once it is fully grown and developed, to ensure that it will be as effective as possible. This means fertilizing once the sod is approximately 6 weeks old, and choosing a mild, dry day to do it. 

Walking on Fresh Sod

Unlike overseeded lawns, you don’t have to wait as long before walking on new sod. New sod needs approximately two weeks to take hold, and can be walked on occasionally after those two weeks. It’s best to stay off it as much as possible during the first six weeks, but it is safe for minimal use after two. 

Final Thoughts

Adding new sod to an existing lawn may seem like an easy and fast way to repair damage, but it does require a decent amount of effort and commitment to ensure that the sod takes hold and is transplanted correctly. The effects of planting new sod can oftentimes be greater than simply sowing additional grass seed, but still requires a certain amount of effort to maintain to ensure it fits in with the rest of the garden. 

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