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If You Can Roll Out a Carpet, You Can Roll Out a Lawn

The reason more sod lawns are installed by individual homeowners in the United States (about 4 million last year) than by landscaping professionals is that the operation is fairly simple.

"If you can roll out a carpet indoors, you can roll out a sod lawn outdoors," is a commonplace and largely accurate statement.

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Most of the effort involved is in soil preparation.

According to the Turf Resource Center, the informational arm of Turf Producers International in Rolling Meadows, Ill., these are the steps that should be taken:

1. Spread two inches or more of compost (composted fir or pine bark is good) or peat moss over the surface of the soil you're planning to sod, along with any lime or sulfur that a soil test may indicate you need. (Lime is used to sweeten acid soils; sulfur to neutralize alkaline soils).

2. Till in to a depth of about 6 inches, rake level, and remove any stones that may surface during tilling.

3. Firm the soil with a heavy garden roller.

4. Start laying the sod along any straight edge (such as a path). Lay next section of sod alongside and push it up against the first section as tightly as possible. Use a heavy utility knife to trim pieces to odd shapes.

5. Roll the newly laid sod to bond the roots as tightly to the soil as possible and water thoroughly.

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6. Water twice a day (even more often if the weather is very hot) for the next two to three weeks, by which time new roots will have established themselves in the soil below. Now you're all set for a game of croquet.

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