Why Should I be Using a Sod Roller and How Does it Help my Lawn?

There are 7 important steps to follow when installing sod. Removing old turf, grading the area, and fertilizing are typically done, but using a sod roller is often a skipped step. There is a bit of controversy as to whether or not this step is actually necessary. A lot of people don’t understand what a sod roller actually does, so they don’t see the point in using one. Here is why it is so important and why you should be rolling your sod:

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Why Should I Use a Sod Roller?

It is well worth the effort of borrowing or renting a sod roller. In order for sod to survive, its root system has to develop. This means contact with the soil beneath it is crucial. Before installing your sod, ensure that there is a layer of soil for the sod to develop its roots. Grading the surface will loosen the soil, making it easier for roots to form and penetrate the soil. If you don’t grade the surface the sod has a harder time forming roots. After grading, install your sod, water immediately and use your sod roller.

A sod roller looks like a large steel drum, that has handles to easily push it around your lawn. You fill the drum with water or sand to add weight. If you don’t own a roller, most hardware stores carry them to rent. Roll horizontally over the entire lawn, and then roll it again in the opposite direction. This will ensure that you compact the entire area well.

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Advantages of Using a Sod Roller

Rolling your sod has a couple of great benefits for your lawn. Arguably the most important benefit is that it helps the roots of the sod come into firm contact with the soil. It tightly presses the sod into the soil, which gives the roots immediate access to moisture. This allows the roots to knit together quickly. It essentially kick-starts the growth process needed for a successful lawn.

A sod roller also helps remove air pockets trapped beneath the sod. Over time, these can result in dead patches as the roots cannot properly form in these pockets. Rolling ensures even growth, and no dead patches!

Rolling also helps your lawn in the long term. It helps to smooth out any unevenness that could occur during the grading stage. If a roller isn’t used, the soil underneath becomes soft as it is not compacted properly. This also leads to depressions being made when it is walked upon, leaving you with a bumpy and uneven lawn. These depressions can also make it hard for you to mow your lawn. Save yourself future trouble and use a sod roller!

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Get Rolling!

Ultimately, rolling your sod provides your lawn with some great benefits. Besides helping the roots to develop more quickly, it will also help create a nice, even lawn. So don’t skip this step the next time you’re sodding and enjoy the reward of a beautiful, lush lawn!


33 Responses

  1. John says:

    When is it too late to use a roller

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey John,

      Thanks for your inquiry! It really depends on your intended purpose of the rolL. Immediately after installation, rolling can help to remove air pockets and ensure better root-soil contact. We suggest rolling for this purpose as soon as you can following installation. You can roll at anytime, but it might not have the same effect as it would have right after you installed. Some homeowners roll their lawn regularly to remove bumps and make it easier to mow. This has its pros and cons and some turf experts will argue that a top dressing application has more benefits than rolling and will produce the same, if not better results. Keep in mind the moisture content of your lawn’s topsoil layer as well, because rolling dry ground won’t have nearly the effect of rolling damp ground and there’s a bit of a sweet spot to aim for. Let me know what your intended result is John and hopefully I can make a more specific recommendation!

      All the best,

      -The OrderSodNow Team

  2. Mike says:

    We recently purchased a home that had new sod installed about 6 months ago. The sod looks pretty good, but is very bumpy. If I use the heel of my foot, I can easily push the sod down. Because of this bumpiness, it doesn’t look smooth and even when it’s mowed. I was thinking of using a lawn roller and found this article. Would you recommend it now after six month? Thanks

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Mike,

      Lawn rolling is common practice for some homeowners! You can do it at pretty well anytime during your lawn’s life cycle. If your lawn is rough and bumpy, rolling could help immensely. Try not to do it when your lawn is totally soaked, but a good moisture level helps to soften the soil and increase the impact of the roller. Give it a shot this spring and let us know how the results turn out!

      Thanks for your comment and have a great day,


  3. John McClendon says:

    I’m a new home owner to a “sod” yard. I’ve always had fescue yards. We moved in about 3 months ago and the home is new construction but finished months before we bought. So I assume sod was laid a minimum 6-7 months ago. Extremely poor grading and probably never rolled. You mention in a post above about a “top dressing” versus “rolling”. My yard has mounds and bumps all over the place it really is embarrassing. Not sure how to approach nor do I really understand the top dressing option

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey John,

      Thanks so much for your inquiry. Poor grading a common lawn problem, and rolling can absolutely help. Rolling can be done in conjunction with topdressing to provide nutrients to your lawn, and to make a smoother surface. Top dressing is essentially just spreading a thin layer of soil (1/2″ – 1/4″) over your entire lawn, filling in the craters and holes. Just keep in mind you want to lightly rake the soil into your lawn so that the majority of the grass blades are sticking up through the soil. You can then roll your whole lawn to complete the process and have a much smoother yard as a result!

      Let me know if you have any further concerns John,


  4. Richie Jen says:

    Awesome tips to lay your turf and use a roller to smooth the surface. Once you have installed your turf, however, going over it with a lawn roller but really impacts the overall surface of your lawn. You would be surprised how the little bumps and lumps you miss before installation can impact the overall surface of the lawn.

  5. Zamar says:

    Gm I’m a new homeowner, it been two months since the builders installed the sod. The soil underneath is real bumpy, uneven and soft. Should I roll it out or should I wait?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Rolling is a great idea Zamar! Some homeowners choose to roll annually in order to keep their lawn nice and flat! 🙂

  6. Megan Alder says:

    My husband and I are having our house built and we are thinking of looking for a sod installation company. It’s interesting to know that it helps the roots of the sod come into firm contact with the soil. We want to know how to take care of our sod once it’s installed, so we’ll definitely follow your advice.

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Congratulations on the new build Megan! Happy to hear that we could offer some helpful advice. All the best in your new home 🙂

  7. Chris Murray says:

    Should I only roll once? I’ve laid new sod in new top soil, and rolled it. Do I need to repeat it?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Chris! You can repeat rolling at any point in the future if your lawn starts to feel uneven. Typically this is only done about once per year at most!

  8. Damien Kyle says:

    Hey, I just had sod put down about a week ago. I’ve had a lot of rain lately. I’ve noticed the lawn is very squishy. I was planning to roll it. Will it hurt it?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Damien,

      Rolling is best done when your lawn is somewhat dry. It could create a big mess if your lawn is too wet. Wait for it to dry out a bit, then roll your new lawn. You don’t want the ground to be hard, but you want it to be firm so that the roller can do its job and level out any lumps and bumps. I hope this is helpful Damien and best of luck with the roll!

  9. Tan says:

    I just laid zoysia but just got roller 2 days later Am I to late could I damage my lawn?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Tan,

      You should be fine to roll your new lawn at anytime, as long as the underlying soil isn’t too wet! Try to roll your lawn when the ground is firm, so that the roller can do its job and level out any lumps or bumps. It will also remove any air pockets under the sod and make better sod-soil contact to improve establishment.

      You can reroll your lawn once a year if you notice more inconsistencies moving forward!

  10. Debbie Evans says:

    We had new sod installed 2 weeks ago tomorrow. The sod was not rolled by the installer. We’ve been watering it twice a day for 20 minutes. Yesterday the edges of the sod started showing some yellowing. When I pull the sod back, I see new white roots but the sod is not taking into the soil. The soil is wet underneath the sod and I can easily stick a screwdriver into the soil. Soil is damp. Should we cut back on the watering?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Debbie,

      Rolling isn’t essential, but it definitely can help with establishment. It doesn’t sound like rolling was the “root” of the issue however… You’ll want to start to wean your sod off of water. Twice a day is pretty frequent even for new sod. The typical rule for watering sod is around 1/2 inch per day, and you want to apply that water in one shot, allowing the lawn to firm up in between waterings. Also, your lawn should have been mowed after the first week, and typically watering is cut back on the days leading up to your first mow. Start cutting the water back and be sure to get that first mow in before it’s too late. Never take more than 1/3 of the grass blade off at a time. Best of luck with your new lawn!

  11. Trevor says:

    This may be a silly question. I have clay soil. Will rolling compact clay too much?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Trevor! Clay soils can still benefit from a good roll. But if you are able to make the subgrade flat enough using hand tools, and you think your soil is sensitive to compaction, this step isn’t essential so long as the proper process was followed.

  12. Deryle H. Carr says:

    My sod company just left and said they will roll it in 3 weeks when the roots are more established. They said that rolling right now would disturb the grass and cause the edges to move around. Does this sound right?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Deryle,

      Thanks for your comment! Depending on the moisture of your topsoil, your sod company is very likely right. Early on in the spring when the ground is soft, rolling with a heavy roller can cause some shifting and potential future issues. Happy to hear that your landscaper is paying close attention to the conditions!

      All the best and enjoy your new lawn!

  13. Jessica says:

    Hi Cameron! I just had sod installed about 2 weeks ago. Yesterday I stepped on it and its super soggy and lumpy. It’s green and thick but do you think a roller would be beneficial at this point? Am I watering too much?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Jessica,

      I’m distraught to hear about your soggy, lumpy new lawn. Overwatering could absolutely be a possibility. You want to water deeply in the morning, allowing your lawn to absorb enough moisture, while also allowing excess moisture to evaporate through the day. Happy to hear it’s looking green, but the most important factor in establishment is the root growth. Make sure that you have lots of white roots growing and cut back on watering if we get a lot of rain. Rolling will be most effective when your topsoil is a little firmer, so wait for things to dry up a bit. You don’t want to roll when your lawn is soggy, because you’ll do more harm than good. 🙂

  14. Marc says:

    I had to bring in about 3-4” of fresh compost for fill and nutrients. The small area (300 ft2) is kinda on a hill and I’m afraid to roll right now to early as the sod will definitely shift around especially on the hilly part. Is it ok to wait and roll in a month or so when the roots have time to establish?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Marc,

      Waiting a while before rolling is absolutely okay! Be careful with watering on the slope as well. The top of the hill can dry out quicker than the bottom, so spend a little extra time making sure the “uphill turf” is well hydrated!

      All the best and enjoy your new lawn!

  15. John says:

    Hi Cameron,

    Our lawn was installed 3 years back, but the lawn is uneven and bumpy. So we are planning to level it using sand. Should we use roller soon after levelling. If not how long should we wait before rolling?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey John! Using a roller can help level your lawn immensely. As long as your lawn is healthy, you can roll at any time and it shouldn’t cause any issues. Make sure you don’t smother your lawn when levelling it and you should be good to roll!

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