To lay sod on a slope and get it to take root quickly, it’s important to keep the sod from slipping and provide it plenty of water and nutrients. To do so:
- Lay sod horizontally, with the “long” edge of the sod parallel to the slope.
- Use a lawn roller to remove air pockets from the sod.
- Use landscape staples to keep pieces of sod in place.
- Fertilize sloped areas after laying sod.
- Water sloped parts of the yard more frequently, as they dry out more quickly.
These same methods allow you to lay sod on contoured parts of your lawn, including uneven ground and drainage areas. These essential steps can encourage a healthy yard even if your lawn has extreme slopes.
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5 Steps to Lay Sod Sod on a Slope
Sod installation on hillsides or other sloped areas can be especially challenging. Sod laid on slopes is prone to slipping, struggles to root, and dries out more easily. To establish a new sod lawn on a hillside, special steps must be taken to ensure success. Follow the steps below for the best results.
Lay Sod Horizontally
In order to help keep sod from slipping, lay your sod strips so that the longest edge is running parallel to the slope. It helps to think of the sod strips as bricks you are using to build a “wall” up the hillside.
- Lay sod so that the long straight edge runs lengthwise along the slope.
- Lay sod in a brick-like pattern, offsetting seams.
By laying sod in this pattern, it’s much less likely to slip, especially when rolled and watered in future steps. Sod laid in thin strips leading up a slope often slide when water gets beneath them.
Roll Out Air Pockets
Because of the uneven ground of a slope, sod often struggles to take root. This makes using a lawn roller to remove air pockets and press to sod to the soil below even more essential than in other parts of your yard.
- Use this lawn roller to roll out air pockets and ensure sod-to-soil contact.
- When rolling sod on a slope, always pull the roller behind you as you walk uphill. This will prevent a runaway roller from causing injury.
- Pulling a roller uphill is hard work. You may need to reduce the weight of the roller by pouring out some of the water.
Rolling out air pockets is one of the most commonly forgotten steps of sod installation, but it’s crucial to success. Sod installed on a slope and left unrolled can struggle to take root. This causes sod slippage, dry sod, and grass death.
Fix Sod in Place
On steep hills, even carefully installed and rolled sod may have a tendency to slip during watering or rainfall. The good news is, you can prevent this by pinning the sod in place.
- Pin sod to the ground below using these landscape staples.
- Pin sod pieces at the corners, focusing on the steepest portions of the slope.
- Leave 1–2 inches of staple visible above the surface. This will make finding and removing them easier once sod has rooted.
- Remove all staples before mowing new sod for the first time (2–3 weeks after installation).
Although some choose to use stakes or pegs to keep sod in place on a hillside, landscape staples are far less damaging to your sod. They’ll also help maintain that sod-to-soil contact you established in step 2.
Fertilize Sloped Areas
Hillsides and slopes generally have lower quality soil than the rest of your yard. This is because slopes experience the most water runoff, which gradually leaches nutrients from the ground. This poor soil can make it difficult for new grass to get nutrients and take root. To combat this, fertilize a new sod slope within 1–3 days after installation.
- Sloped areas typically have the lowest soil quality in your yard.
- Use this lawn starter fertilizer on your newly sodded slope 1–3 days after sod is laid.
This step is crucial to giving your sod a boost that will encourage it to take root and hold itself in place on the slope. It will also guarantee greener, healthier grass on sloped areas where grass usually struggles or grows more thinly.
Sloped areas retain less water than flat portions of your yard. Water from rainfall and sprinklers runs off easily, leading to dry sod. If sod dries out, your new grass will quickly begin to die. To prevent this from happening:
- Water sod on sloped areas more frequently than other portions of your yard.
- On slopes, sod may require 3 watering sessions per day for the first 2 weeks. Each session should be 10–15 minutes in duration.
- Focus watering in the morning and late afternoon when possible.
- Monitor sod. If it appears dry or begins to shrink, increase the number of watering sessions.
The first 2 weeks are crucial for new sod. This is when your new lawn is most vulnerable because it hasn’t yet developed deep enough roots to retrieve water for itself. Be especially diligent about watering sod during this timeframe. Then, taper off watering as your sod roots.
Can You Lay Sod on Uneven Ground?
Yes, it’s possible to lay a piece of sod on uneven ground. However, installing new sod is a great time to fix any dips or rises in your lawn. If possible, grade and level uneven areas before sod installation. If this isn’t an option, you can still lay sod.
- Grade your lawn before sod installation to fix small portions of uneven ground.
- If uneven ground can’t be fixed, you can still install sod.
- Use a lawn roller to form sod to uneven contours.
On uneven ground, the most important step in laying sod is making sure the roots of the sod grass make contact with the soil. This allows sod to take root. Use a lawn roller and work carefully to make sure each piece of sod conforms to the uneven ground.
How Do You Water Sod on a Hill?
When watering sod installed on a hillside or slope, it’s best to set a sprinkler at the top. This allows you to concentrate watering on the upper two-thirds of the hill. The water will naturally run down the slope, moistening the lower portions.
Watering from the top of the hill is more effective than setting a sprinkler at the bottom of the slope. Watering from the bottom can lead to dry upper portions. It can also cause water to run off and pool at the bottom of the hill, leading to boggy conditions and potentially drowning your sod.
How to Install Sod on a Slope
When installing sod in sloped areas of your yard, make sure to lay the sod in a brick-like pattern, like a “wall” rising up the slope. Then, roll out air pockets to make sure the sod is making contact with any uneven or curved ground. Pin sod strips in place with landscape staples. Once your sod is installed, add a lawn starter fertilizer and water 2–3 times per day, especially in hot weather. Sloped soil typically has the lowest nutrient content and dries out quickly, so new sod care is even more essential in sloped areas.