Signs of Bad Sod Installation and How to Fix It

Fix Bad Sod Installation

A beautiful, thick, and healthy lawn is possible to achieve through proper sod installation and caring for your lawn afterward. However, even if you invest in high-quality sod, poor installation can result in a dreadful lawn full of problems and unexpected expenses. Understanding the signs of bad sod installation will help you identify if your lawn needs corrective action and how to go about fixing the problem.

In this article, we’ll explore the most common signs of bad sod installation and guide you with practical methods to make the necessary improvements.

Signs of Bad Sod Installation

Uneven seams and gaps

A well-installed sod should have contiguous seams with little to no gaps between each rollor piece. If you notice uneven seams, large gaps, or overlapping edges, this is a clear indication of poor sod installation. Apart from being unattractive, these issues can compromise the health of your lawn by creating spaces for weeds to grow.

Spongy or excessively bumpy surface

Ideally, a professionally installed lawn will be even and consistent in texture. A yard with spongy or excessively bumpy surfaces likely has problems, such as poor soil preparation and compaction, or air pockets, which can hinder root development and cause sections to dip and rise.

Incomplete root establishment

One crucial aspect of successful sod installation is ensuring the root system properly embeds and establishes itself into the soil. Visible new root growth within several weeks of installation is a good sign. However, if you can easily pull the sod up or see minimal root growth after a few weeks, it is a clear symptom of faulty installation.

Yellow or brown patches

While some browning or yellowing around the edges of the sod is normal for freshly installed sod, large patches of unhealthy turf may signify that the sod has not been appropriately installed, or that the sod was in poor health before installation.

Inconsistent thickness

Sod should have a uniform thickness throughout the lawn. Fluctuating heights or thicknesses can indicate issues such as inconsistent placement, varying sod quality, or inadequate soil preparation underneath the sod.

How to Fix Bad Sod Installation

  • Address uneven seams and gaps: Start by trimming overlapping edges and repositioning the sod to close any gaps. Fill any remaining gaps with a mixture of soil and organic compost. Water the area thoroughly to encourage the growth of new grass roots, and to close the gaps completely.
  • Correct spongy or bumpy surfaces: Level uneven areas by adding topsoil, removing excess soil, or aerating compacted areas. Make sure to water the affected areas afterward to help the grass roots bind to the new soil.
  • Improve root establishment: You can encourage proper root growth by keeping the sod moist, but not over-watering it. Apply a slow-release, high-phosphorus fertilizer to support robust root development and ensure the sod is well-rooted. When repairing areas surrounding the sod, remember to aerate the soil right before installing new sod pieces to increase root establishment.
  • Treat yellow or brown patches: Water the spots evenly, monitor sun exposure, and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. You must also investigate possible pest or disease problems. Keep an eye on the health of the lawn, and call in an expert if the issue persists.
  • Level inconsistent thickness: First, assess if there is a discrepancy in the quality of sod or soil beneath it. For thin or unhealthy spots, re-valuate soil preparation, and consider installing fresh sod pieces to create uniform lawn thickness. Likewise, if an area appears raised and bulky, you may need to remove excess soil or sod layers to achieve the desired consistency.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I fix an uneven or bumpy surface after sod installation?

You can fix an uneven or bumpy surface after sod installation by leveling the soil and regrading it before installing the sod. Alternatively, use a lawn roller to compress the soil after the sod has been laid.

How can I fix visible seams or gaps between the sod pieces?

You can fix visible seams or gaps between the sod pieces by filling them with soil or sand, then watering the area thoroughly to settle the sod into place. In severe cases, you may need to replace the affected sod pieces.

How can I fix yellow or brown patches in my newly installed sod?

You can fix yellow or brown patches in your newly installed sod by ensuring adequate watering, improving soil quality, treating pest or disease infestations, and providing shade or protection from extreme weather conditions.

How long does it take for new sod to root?

It typically takes 2-3 weeks for new sod to root, but this can vary depending on soil moisture, temperature, and other environmental factors.

Can I walk on my newly installed sod?

It’s best to avoid walking on newly installed sod for at least 2-3 weeks to allow it to establish root growth and adhere to the soil.

When can I mow my newly installed sod?

You can mow your newly installed sod once it has rooted and established a firm hold on the soil, typically after 2-3 weeks. Make sure to use a sharp mower blade and never remove more than one-third of the grass height in a single mowing.


In conclusion, bad sod installation can lead to a number of problems, from dying grass to drainage issues. If you are experiencing problems with your sod installation, it is important to take action as soon as possible to prevent further damage. By reworking the soil, properly grading your lawn, and providing adequate watering and fertilization, you can help your new sod establish itself and thrive. With proper maintenance and care, you can enjoy a beautiful, lush lawn for years to come.