Installing Sod: The Ideal Growing Medium for Best Results

What Makes Up the Ideal Growing Medium?

Before installing sod there are a couple of different things to understand. These include fertilizer, growing conditions as well as ideal growing mediums. We will cover the ideal growing medium, but be sure to check out our other post. Make sure you take the time to create the perfect growing medium for your sod. It will give you the best possible long-term results as well as needed less maintenance.

Soil Quality

Your sod requires 4 main things in order to stay healthy and grow: sunlight, air, water, and nutrients. The quality of the soil is incredibly important as it actually provides your lawn with 3 of these main components (excluding sunlight). You should be amending your already existing soil with new, nutrient-rich soil in order to provide your turf with a perfect medium for growth. We suggest using BigYellowBags Black Garden Soil. It consists of black loam, peat loam, manure, and mineral soil. Using a soil that has been engineered to create this perfect growing medium is your easiest and most successful bet.

soil growing mediums amend quality prepare sod growing medium

If you go the topsoil route, you need to purchase and mix in additional elements, such as peat and manure. Look up a guide online for quantities to mix in. It is also important to mix the new soil in with the existing soil. Be sure to dig into your existing soil and mix it with the new soil to create a depth of at least 4″. This will allow the sod to have deeper root penetration, as you are providing your sod with a looser soil to grow through.

soil BigYellowBag Growing Medium Natures Blend Professional Top Dressing Mix Sod Grass Repair Overseed

Moisture Content

Without proper moisture, your sod will not last very long. Sod has to be watered within 15 minutes or so of being installed, so providing moisture is key. Once you have amended your soil, raked and rolled your area, laid some sod, water the sodded part of your yard as soon as you can. This will not only provide moisture but will also cool down the sod and help roots establish faster. The ultimate goal of sod is to have it root as quickly as possible and watering your sod immediately helps you achieve this goal. This ties back into how important your soil is, as a soil with the addition of peat will help retain moisture. This will help prevent your sod from drying out as quickly and providing them with additional moisture that they would not have access to if the sod dried out.


Like us, plants require proper nutrients to survive. Your sod is no different. It requires more nutrients than the average plant because of the foot traffic and abuses it will take. This is where your fertilizer comes into play. Your sod requires 3 main nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. These are the 3 main nutrients found in fertilizers. Each nutrient has a different function, but for fresh sod phosphorous is the most important nutrient. Phosphorous promotes root growth and development, which is integral to your sod surviving. Ensuring that your sod receives proper nutrients upon installation will ensure proper growth and development. For information on what fertilizer consists of, check out our fertilizer post.

fertilize fertilizer amend soil sod install grass lawn maintenance nutrients growing medium

Word of Advice

Installing sod can be a daunting and costly expense. Some people try to cut corners by buying the cheapest soil they can get their hands on. We highly suggest not skipping this crucial step as once your sod is installed you cannot go back to fix your mistakes. It can actually end up costing more as you will need to buy products to try to improve the quality of your sod. Without proper nutrients, your lawn could have stunted or yellow growth. Ensuring proper growing mediums for your sod will provide the best results. It would be incredibly frustrating to invest your time installing your sod only to have to spend additional time trying to provide these nutrients.  Avoid this frustration by ensuring perfect growing mediums for your sod and not cutting corners!

4 Responses

  1. Elitehort says:

    Hi there, Great tips by the way and thank you. I did have a question though.
    I’m hoping you can answer it for me since you seem to be pretty
    knowledgeable about gardening. In a garden, how can you kill unwanted plants (e.g.
    weeds) without hurting other plants? I have a
    number of weeds growing in my garden beds right now… If you had some insight I would
    greatly appreciate it.

  2. Erik says:

    There is no replacement for waiting… however there are a number of Weathers that make life easier. Fiskars makes a stand up dandelion puller…. There are also a lot of other products on the market that make weeding easier. But when it comes to getting rid of them without hurting anything else… you just have to weed.

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      You’re absolutely right Erik! Those stand-up pullers are fantastic, and they’ll save a lot of back pain! 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  3. Erik says:

    ….Weeding …..weeders…sorry, voice text.

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