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How Long After Tilling Can You Lay Sod Or Plant Grass?

Would you like to know how long after tilling you can lay sod or plant grass? Well, we have researched this question and have answers for you. Understanding how long after tilling you can lay sod or plant grass is vital to ensure your grass is even.

After tilling, you should wait to lay sod or plant grass until the soil is thoroughly compacted. Depending on your soil, it can take up to a year for the soil to settle naturally. You can compact the soil yourself in about an hour using a tool like a roller.

In this article, we will learn how long after tilling you can lay sod or plant grass. We will also learn the answers to other interesting related questions, such as how do you prepare the ground for laying sod or planting grass, and how do you lay sod to avoid seams? Keep reading to learn more.

Close-up of a female worker digging soil with a hand digging tool on the farm. Cropped shot of a woman working in vegetable greenhouse farm. - How Long After Tilling Can You Lay Sod Or Plant Grass

How Long After Tilling Can You Lay Sod Or Plant Grass?

After you till, it's crucial to wait until the ground is compacted before laying sod or planting grass. When you till the ground, you introduce bumps into a profile of harder dirt below the surface that can make for an uneven finish when laying sod or planting grass.

The rough finish is caused by the ground settling to match the bumpy underground profile. Even if you rake the surface of the dirt until it's smooth, there will still be a bumpy underground profile, and the soft surface dirt will eventually compact to match the underground profile.

If you left the ground alone after tilling, it would be ready to lay sod or plant grass in about a year. If you live in an environment with low rainfall, it may take up to three years for the soil to compact naturally.

Rainfall is the number one way soil compacts naturally over time, and areas with higher rainfall compact faster.

Instead of waiting for nature to compact the ground for laying sod or planting grass, it's much faster to compact the soil manually. Once you compact the ground, you can lay sod or seed and know it won't settle and become uneven.

Low section of girl hoeing weeds in vegetable garden using hand fork and mattock.

How Do You Prepare The Ground For Laying Sod Or Seed?

The first step to preparing the ground for laying sod or seed is ensuring the ground is compact and level. Prepare the soil by tilling at least six inches deep. While tilling, remove any rock you see kicked up to the surface.

Once the ground is tilled, you must compact and level the loose soil. There are two primary ways to compact soil—to walk on the ground or use a roller. Let's look at the walking method and how to use a roller to compact and level loose soil.

Walking Method

To use the walking method, start walking systemically back and forth until every area has been stepped on a few times. It's crucial to walk along the edges as well since they are harder to compact and are more susceptible to uneven settling.

Next, rake areas of high dirt to regions of low dirt and continue compacting. Keep leveling the ground with a rake and walking on the ground until it's evenly compacted and leveled.

Roller Method

Summer worker pulls lawn roller for flatten garden. Heavy, iron cylinder tramples soil and then man can plant seeds. Important landscaping on garden in summer.

The other way to prepare the ground is to use a roller. A roller is a large metal drum with a handle that can be filled with water or sand and used to level soil.

Fill your roller, and roll back and forth over the entire area. If an area of soil is compressing lower than the surrounding ground, use a rake to add dirt from an adjacent high area.

With the roller method, you may need to use your feet to compress the soil along the edges. The roller may also be unable to compress dirt on the edges, and extra compressing may be needed. You are finished once the ground is compacted and leveled everywhere.

Click here to see this lawn roller on Amazon.

How Do You Lay Sod To Avoid Seams?

Gardener applying turf rolls in the backyard

When laying sod, it's vital to use the proper technics to avoid seams. Start by checking that the ground is even and free of rocks or debris. If there is any debris, the pieces of sod won't lay perfectly flat, and there will be seams.

Now, take a roll of sod and lay it on the ground so it can roll away from you. Take a good grip on the corners of the end of the roll, and pull it tightly against the edge of the prepared area. Then, unroll the sod so it lays flat, ensuring no bumps.

After that, take the next roll of sod and place it down to touch the edge of the previous piece. Pulling the next roll tight against the last piece is crucial to avoid seams.

Keep adding pieces of sod to build a strip across the prepared area. Once this strip has reached the other end of the yard, use a sharp tool to cut the end to the right shape. While any sharp tool will work, a steak knife is small and sharp enough for quick, accurate cuts through sod.

Repeat Until Finished

Now that you have finished the strip of sod, start laying another strip adjacent to the first. When building the next strip, pulling the sod tightly against the last piece and the adjacent strip is vital. Once the second strip reaches the end of the prepared area, cut it in line with the first strip.

Keep adding strips adjacent to the previous strip until the prepared area is covered in sod. You will need to cut pieces of sod to fill in irregular-shaped areas or narrow strips. 

Now that the entire area is tightly packed with sod, there is one more thing to ensure an even finish. Each location where the sod was pulled together should be slightly raised. These ridges between pieces of sod should be methodically walked over to press and seal the pieces together.

Walking on the ridges between sod will ensure that they won't separate and leave seams. Once all the edges are flattened, be sure to water your lawn. The water will promote new root growth, ensuring no seams in your lawn.

How Do You Plant A Healthy Lawn From Seed?

Green sprouts

To plant a healthy lawn from seed, you must first choose the right seed. There are many kinds of grass seed, each with advantages and disadvantages. Some grass seeds prefer more sun, while others prefer shade.

One way to ensure you get the best grass seed for your lawn is to buy a blend. A blend of seeds will contain several seeds that do well in different environments. If a part of your yard is shady, then the shade-loving seeds will prosper there, and if an area has more sun, the sun-loving seeds will grow more.

If you want to try a blend of grass seed, here are two of the best available on Amazon.

The Rebels Seed Blend

You can find this product here on Amazon.

Lesco Seed Blend

You can find this product here on Amazon.

Next, you will want to prepare the ground. Till the top few inches to dirt, and then use rakes to spread the loose soil around evenly. After that, spread a couple of inches of topsoil around the area.

It would be best also to introduce a fertilizer to the soil. The best fertilizer is any that contains an even balance of the three vital nutrients for plants: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

You can tell if a fertilizer has an even mix of these nutrients by checking its NPK number, which measures the ratio of these nutrients.

Here are two of the best fertilizers available on Amazon that contain an even mix of these nutrients.

GreenView Multi-Purpose Fertilizer

You can find this product here on Amazon.

Southern Ag Fertilizer All-purpose Fertilizer

You can find this product here on Amazon.

Now, use a spreader to distribute the seed around the prepared area evenly. Once you've added the seed, spread a thin layer of peat moss over the seeds. Peat moss helps to absorb water and can increase seed germination.

Keep watering the seed often enough to keep the soil damp, but don't soak it. A week after the seeds have sprouted, cut watering times back to once a day, and in a few weeks, you will have a new lawn from seed.

Final Thoughts

Close-up of a female worker digging soil with a hand digging tool on the farm. Cropped shot of a woman working in vegetable greenhouse farm.

In this article, we learned that before you can lay sod or plant grass after tilling, you need to compact the ground. We also learned how to install sod so it doesn't leave seams behind.

Remember, choose a blend when picking grass seed to ensure your lawn grows excellently no matter its environment.

We hope you enjoyed this article. If you want to learn more, check out some of these other posts:

Should I Pull Up Dead Crabgrass – And How To?

When Does Grass Come Out Of Dormancy?