Sod installation can transform a bare patch of ground into a lawn area to enjoy. Costs for installation depend on how much space will be covered with sod, whether someone needs to prepare the ground first and other factors. In general, sod installation costs about 50 cents to 80 cents per square foot, including materials and labor, which would be $500–$800 for a 1,000-square-foot. Extensive excavation and grading or the addition of a sprinkler system will increase overall costs by $1,500–$3,500.
Sod comes in carpet-like rolls of already-sprouted grass and part of the soil beneath it held together by its roots or a piece of thin, biodegradable material. Sod costs about 30 cents to 80 cents per square foot, depending on the grass variety. Laying sod is more expensive than growing a lawn from seed—but it’s ready to enjoy much sooner. Lawns created from sod can be walked and played on within four or five weeks of installation. It can take months for lawns grown from seed to fill in enough to walk on.
Sod installation providers typically charge a delivery fee to haul the sod from the source to the job site. Typical delivery fees are $50–$100, though many companies waive the fee for larger projects.
A few common types of grass are used in sod, and costs vary for each. For lawns, the grass used is either a creeping type, such as bluegrass, which spreads via above- or below-ground runners, or a bunch type, such as fescue and ryegrass, which spread from the crown of the plant. Charlie Range, owner of Delta Charlie Sod in Stockton, California, sells and installs three main types of sod:
Blue Rye, which offers resistance to powdery mildew, fungi and leaf rust; is conducive to a lower mowing height; and remains dark green year-round
Elite Plus, which is a blend of improved fescue and bluegrass
No-Mow Blend, which was developed for outstanding performance on both sloped and shaded areas
Delta Charlie Sod provides sod installation for 75 cents per square foot, including the sod, plus a delivery fee of $80, which is waived for orders of 1,000 square feet or more.
In drought-prone areas, synthetic grass is growing in popularity. At $5 and up per square foot, including materials and installation, it costs significantly more than natural grass. But long-term, it costs less to maintain than natural grass because it needs no mowing or irrigation.
Most professional sod installers can remove existing grass and prepare the ground with fertilizer or new soil as needed. Delta Charlie Sod charges an additional $1 per square foot to remove existing grass and prep the area. The service includes:
Removal of weeds, existing grass and debris
Ground treatment—tilling or grading
Adding a sprinkler system to make it easier to water a lawn and surrounding plants also adds to the total cost. KDEarthcare, based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, charges $600–$800 per zone, including materials and labor, to install irrigation systems. A zone is a group of sprinklers that operate together using one common irrigation valve. Each valve (and thus each zone) is operated by the system’s timer. A standard-size yard typically has three to five zones.
If a yard is somewhat irregular in shape, it’s a good idea to have the installer measure it before providing an estimate and ordering sod. Curves, small hills and built-in landscape features, such as waterfalls, raised garden beds or decorative boulders, can change the total cost significantly if more sod required and it takes longer to install.
Some people purchase the sod themselves, have it delivered and hire a professional to install it to save time and ensure that it is installed properly. Most pros charge 25 cents to 60 cents per square foot just for installation of sod the customer has provided.
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