Spending Some Green: The True Cost of Sod Installation

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated July 28, 2022
Fresh sod installation in yard
Photo: Rosmarie Wirz / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Sod costs around $2,000 on average.

  • You’ll pay $1–$2 per square foot in total for sod.

  • It takes about 40 hours to lay sod on your own.

  • DIYing a sod installation costs as much as hiring a pro.

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Dreaming of a lush, green lawn but don't like how long it takes to cultivate? The quickest way to get there is to lay sod instead of growing grass from seed. Sod prices typically range between $1,050 and $2,900 or an average of $2,000. However, some sod costs as little as $450 or as much as $5,000.

You could lay the sod yourself or hire a pro who has the skills and equipment to avoid seams and prep the ground for even coverage. 

Sod Cost

You’ll pay between $0.35 to $0.85 per square foot for the material alone and anywhere from $1 to $2 total to have sod installed. This price difference depends on the type of sod you choose for your yard.

Type of SodAverage Cost per Square Foot
Bahia$1.20
Bermuda$1.50
Fescue$1.40
Kentucky Bluegrass$1.27
Ryegrass$1.40
St. Augustine$1.45

Cost to Install Sod

The price of sod varies depending on the extent of the preparation, the size of the yard, and your yard’s condition. You’ll want to factor each of these elements into your budgeting to get the most accurate estimate.

Land Prep

Some yards need a little extra TLC before you can lay sod. If your yard needs to be regraded, tack on an additional $1 to $3 per square foot to your total price. 

Likewise, obstacles like hardscaping and structural objects—like stepping stones, raised garden beds, and even trees and their roots—can also slow your project down and add up to 10% more to the total price to install sod.

Yard Size

Since sod prices are based on the square footage of land, your yard size plays an important role in the cost of the project. A 1,000-square-foot lawn will cost around $1,500 on average, while a 2,000-square-foot lawn will cost around $3,000 on average.

Condition

If your yard is in poor condition for laying sod, then you’ll want to factor in the price to remove the old sod and prepare the ground for the new sod. You can rent a sod-cutter for around $80 per day or hire a pro to remove old grass for anywhere between $1 and $3 per square foot

You might also want to fertilize your lawn. The price of lawn fertilizer is around $200 to $500 per treatment on average, depending on your lawn size.

Yard Size Average Sod Price
1,000 sq. ft.$1,500
2,000 sq. ft.$3,000
3,250 sq. ft.$4,875
4,500 sq. ft.$6,750
6,000 sq. ft.$9,000
1/4 acre$16,350

Sod Installation Material Cost

CostSize, Task, or Item
$2 – $5Per bag of topsoil
$12 – $30Cubic yard of topsoil
$15 – $200Topsoil delivery
$80 – $380Per fertilizer treatment
$450 – $900Per pallet of sod installation (pallet = 450 sq. ft.)
$1,000 – $2,000Grass or weed removal
Up to $3,000Grading

Location

Though the average cost of sod installation is $2,000 nationwide, it might vary where you live.

LocationAverage Price Range
Cape Coral, FL$840 – $2,600
Indianapolis, IN$800 – $2,200
Raleigh, NC$1,250 – $3,500
Tulsa, OK$1,100 – $2,300
Minneapolis, MN$870 – $2,200
Sacramento, CA$1,500 – $3,050
Chicago, IL$880 – $2,100
Los Angeles, CA$1,400 – $3,100
Trenton, NJ$1,700 – $4,375
Seattle, WA$1,370 – $3,270

Cost data is based on actual project prices reported by Angi members.

DIY Sod Installation Costs

The cost to sod a yard yourself is about $2,000 and will take about 40 hours. What you pay depends on the size of your yard, any obstacles you need to work around, and the species of grass you choose. 

 If you opt to lay new sod yourself, you’ll need to:

  • Prep the yard. This includes ripping up any grass and weeds, then loosening the dirt.

  • Test the pH levels of your soil with an at-home soil testing kit ($15) to determine what type of fertilizer, and how much, you need.

  • Lay the topsoil at $12–$30 per cubic yard.

  • Lay the new sod ($150–$450 per pallet or $0.35–$0.85 per square foot) so each row is staggered. Make sure the long edges are tight to one another, but the cut ends of the roll aren't side by side. 

Price to Have Sod Installed by a Pro

When it comes to laying new sod, you have two choices: tackle the project on your own or hire a professional landscaper. Installers charge between $1 and $2 per square foot for labor and materials. 

If you have an oddly shaped yard, an old lawn that needs to be ripped up at the roots, or if you’d rather not spend your evenings and weekends doing yard work, you could come out ahead by hiring a pro to install sod for you. 

Pros have the tools and experience to work around hazards in the yard, prepare the soil, and lay the sod evenly without visible seams. They can also advise you on what species of grass will work best for your area’s climate, your yard’s sun exposure, your budget, and your desired level of maintenance. 

How to Reduce the Price for Laying Sod

If you’re looking to cut the cost to sod a yard, you could save money by buying lower-priced species such as Bahia and Kentucky bluegrass. You could also buy the materials separately and just pay for labor, which might cost $35 to $75 per hour. Your installer is not likely to offer a guarantee beyond their own labor when you buy materials separately.

DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

Landscaper installing new fresh sod in yard
Photo: Jasmin Merdan / Getty Images

Though it’s easy enough to lay sod DIY-style, doing so can take a lot of time and energy. Not to mention, all the equipment, soil testing, and materials you’ll need to lay sod on your own often cost around the same as it costs to hire a pro—$2,000

If you’re not up for a physical workout and the trial and error that can come with choosing the best type of sod for your yard, you might want to save this one for the pros. A professional sod installer knows the ins and outs of installing sod in your area and can help you make the best decisions regarding the type of sod that works best for your climate and soil type.

What Are Some Potential Problems With Laying Sod?

Uncooperative weather is a challenge when installing new sod. While some moisture helps the sod grow, a big downpour means your pristine black dirt becomes a muddy mess. 

Before getting to work, make sure to account for yucky weather and:  

  • If you can, cover your cleared, weeded dirt with a tarp. 

  • Watch the forecast and lay your sod on a clear day. Rolls of grass can survive for several days or weeks (at most), but if you store them any longer, they'll start to decay, meaning you'll need to shell out for more new sod.

  • Once laid, sod will need a healthy drink of water. Avoid laying the sod right before a vacation or in times of water restriction when you won’t be able to water the lawn.

Temperature can also pose a problem. It's not ideal to install sod in very hot weather because adding fertilizer can cause the grass to burn. On the other hand, cold weather makes it more difficult for the grass to take. The ideal temperature to resod a lawn is 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Other Lawn Tasks to Do While Laying Grass

If you enjoy hosting weekend cookouts or your yard frequently becomes a soccer field, consider if your lawn could use any enhancements to make it more useful.

  • Yard leveling: Change the slope of the yard to give you more play area or improve drainage problems to keep water away from your house.

  • Adding gardens or paver walkways: Pros can seamlessly edge your new sod around flower beds or decorative pathways.

  • Adding a sprinkler system: A sprinkler system can be more efficient than hand-watering, and timers mean you don’t have to remember to water your lawn. Be sure to dig the trenches and lay the pipe before laying new sod.

FAQs

Should I choose sod or seed?

While the cost to sod a yard is about $1 per square foot higher than the cost of seeding a lawn, seed is generally more difficult to maintain over time. Seeded lawns can take up to two years to grow in completely and need regular weed control. 

Sod can immediately increase your home's curb appeal. Either way, be sure to protect your investment by hiring a local lawn care company.

How much sod should I buy?

A landscaping professional usually measures your yard for you as part of their quote. To measure your property yourself:

  • Sketch the outline of your yard, breaking it into smaller sections, if needed.

  • Measure the areas in feet and write down the measurements as you go.

  • Multiply the length and width of each area.

  • Add them all together.

When buying by the yard, divide your square-foot measurements by nine to figure out how much you need. Because most material is non-refundable, be as accurate as possible while measuring and doing the math.

How long before I can walk on my lawn?

Keep the dog and kids off your gorgeous new grass because it takes 10 to 14 days for new sod to grow a healthy root system. Until the roots grow in, the grass is not firmly attached to the ground and could move around accidentally. Disturbing the grass mats during this stage could interrupt root growth and make it take a lot longer. 

After six weeks, roots should be stable enough to resume regular lawn and garden care, including mowing and edging.

How do I maintain new sod?

The truth is that even with hours of attention and unlimited watering, a lawn beautiful enough to please the homeowners association might not be attainable. Know when to mow, fertilize, and repair bare patches, and accept that some dead grass is inevitable.

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