Installing Sod on a Slope: Why it is so Hard & How to be Successful

One of the trickiest places to install sod is on a slope. This is due to a number of reasons including drainage issues. While it is difficult to sod on a slope, it is nearly impossible to seed a sloped area. If you have a sloped area it is best to stick to sod as it will ensure better results. While it isn’t always easy, there are tons of tricks and tips on how to successfully sod a sloped area! It is easier to fix the issue once you understand why it is so hard in the first place!

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Why is it Hard to Grow Grass on a Slope?

Growing grass on a hill or on a sloped area can be incredibly difficult. That is because high drainage and slopes go hand in hand. With heavy rains or watering, the water runs down the slope. This leads to poor soil underneath the sod. The soil dries out very quickly as it is unable to retain most of the water it receives. It is also lacking in nutrients, as these get washed away in the runoff. Fertilize and water the area regularly to ensure proper moisture and nutrients.

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Tips & Steps to Ensure Success

The first thing you should do is properly prepare the area. Check out our 7 easy steps to installation for a full guide. When installing on a slope the quality of the soil used is very important to ensure that the sod is getting nutrients. The soil will lose some nutrients from the runoff, so be sure to use a good quality soil as well as fertilizer. Also follow a fertilizing schedule to ensure it receives enough nutrients throughout the growing season.

When you are installing your sod, there are a couple of tips to keep in mind. The first tip is to lay the strips horizontally instead of vertically. Laying the strips vertically can lead to the sod slipping out of place. It can also lead to additional soil erosion, as it is easier for the water to flow through. Stagger the pieces as you normally would when laying sod. On a slope, it is very important not to skip the step of rolling out your sod. Rolling the strips promotes a faster rooting process as well as removing any air pockets. The faster the roots develop, the less chance of issues occurring.

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Once the sod is installed, you need to secure the sod in place. Use garden staples, long nails, or pegs to hold the strips in place. Make sure that the pegs have penetrated the ground beneath the sod, or they won’t hold the strips in place. If you are planning on inserting the pegs all the way into the ground, I would suggest doing this step before rolling out your sod. Try to remember where you placed each peg to make for an easier removal process once your sod has taken root. If you have longer pegs, leave them sticking out a bit to make for the easiest removal process. You will need to put the pegs in after rolling if keeping them visible.

Final Words

While sodding on a slope is tough, it is far from impossible. Tons of people have success when they sod on a slope! Now grass seed is a different story, so stick to sod for the best results. ┬áBesides having a great looking lawn, you’re also helping with erosion issues! Sodding on a slope doesn’t have to be intimidating. Simply keep our tips in mind when sodding and you’re sure to have great results!


12 Responses

  1. I liked that you had mentioned that when it comes to installing it that it can be important to have it done correctly. My wife and I are wanting to remove the turf from our yard and put in new sod. We’ll have to start looking around for a turf removal company and we’ll see if we can find a free one. We’ll also have to figure out how to install everything on our sloped hill.

  2. Wendy says:

    I agree. You cannot simply create grass on a hill by simple spreading it by hand. Grass plugs and sprigs help this way. Just be very careful upon installation. Spread your legs apart while working with the soil to help stabilized on the slope.

  3. Steele Honda says:

    Thanks for the tips and steps on how to ensure success when installing sod on a slope. My husband and I are trying to figure out how to do this while still keeping erosion under control. We’ll have to look into if any companies can help us with the installation and erosion control.

  4. Jeffrey Ferland says:

    I want to lay sod on a slope. It has been very difficult to grow grass in this area for a number of reasons. The existing soil is sandy. The slope gets a lot of direct sun and the grade of the slope is quite steep so water runs off. There is a tree at the top of the slope and its roots are taking water away from the grass.

    I am planning to put a layer of soil at least 4 inches thick of 2/3 Scotts lawn soil and 1/3 peat moss. I am planning on laying the sod horizontally in a brick pattern. I am not sure what type of sod (eg. grass variety) I can and should get and any other things I can do to increase my chances of growing grass in this location.

    Please advise.

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Jeffrey,

      Thanks so much for your comment! Slopes are always tough to establish sod on. When you prepare your land, try to soften the slope as much as you can with a hard rake and the topsoil you’re using. If you can make the slope more gradual, it will be better for sod establishment as far as drainage is concerned. Trees can make things difficult too, competing for valuable resources with your new lawn, but you can’t do much about that. Consider using sod staples to secure the sod, and as we stated in the article, rolling can help immensely. As far as varieties of sod, I would aim for the fastest establishing variety if you have a choice, but Kentucky Bluegrass is usually a good bet depending on your geographical region.

      Let me know if you have any further concerns Jeffrey and thanks again,


  5. jerry davis says:

    i l;ive in alabama i am having erosion in my farm field how do i fix this problem

  6. jerry davis says:

    should i use sodto stop erosion

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Jerry,

      There’s a lot of factors to consider when trying to reduce erosion! I would recommend reaching out to your local agricultural organization and ask for recommendations.

      Thanks and all the best!

  7. Greg Hampton says:

    I like what you said about making sure that you fertilize and water your sod to make sure that it stays in good shape. My sister wants to get a sod lawn installed in the coming weeks. I’ll share this information with her so that she can look into her options for landscapers who can help her with this.

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Perfect Greg! Be sure to pass this info along to your sister for her best shot at success. Thanks for your comment!

      All the best and take care!

  8. Bob Smith says:

    My backyard has about a 40 degree slope. Can I sod the slope and will I be able to cut the lawn?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Bob!

      You can absolutely install sod on that slope using sod staples, but keeping it hydrated, and like you said mowing, can present some challenges. You’ll have to be committed to establishment maintenance in order to have that sod thrive. You have a better idea what the site looks like. Try to think about how easy it will be to mow, and keep hydrated throughout the establishment period!

      All the best and happy sodding!

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