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Installation Cost of Sod Grass
The average cost to have a landscaper install sod in your yard is about $2.10 per square foot. If you DIY, your cost will average around $1.20 per square foot.
All sticks, large stones and other significant debris should be removed, and the ground should be graded before pro installation to avoid additional charges.
Installation involves removing small stones and debris – some landscapers are pickier than others – laying the sod and, once a couple hundred square feet have been installed, getting a sprinkler going on it. The installers will trim the sod around the driveway, patio, garden beds, underground sprinkler heads and other obstacles. When finished, sod scraps should be hauled away, and you’ll have to keep the sprinklers going per then landscaper’s instructions and hose dirt off hard surfaces.
Overview of Sod Lawns
Sodding is much more expensive than seeding, but it gives you a gorgeous lawn “right now” as opposed to having to nurture a seeded yard to maturity over the course of a couple seasons. Sod roots securely within 10-21 days depending on water and temperature conditions.
The type of grass you choose – and options vary by region and climate – can affect the price significantly. A price list of sod options is below, and it ranges from affordable grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass for under $1.00 per square foot to St. Augustine grass that can cost closer to $1.50/sq. ft. or higher.
Here’s what that looks like for landscapes of common sizes. Keep in mind that cost per square foot goes down a little as yard size increases.
- 1,000 square feet (small lot): $1,400 – $2,300
- 10,900 square feet (1/4 acre): $14,170 – $24,000
- 21,750 square feet (1/2 acre): $27,540 – $47,500
- 43,500 square feet (1 acre): $54,450 – $92,000
When you DIY, expect to pay $0.90 to $1.45 per square foot with an average price for the most popular grass species around $1.10/sq. ft. That will save you around 25% to 40% based on the type/cost of the grass you select. Just be sure you know how to take care of the sod before laying it and after it is installed to ensure its health, so you don’t risk losing your investment.
Landscapers are the most common installers, though sod farms often have their own installation crews, and hiring them can reduce the price a bit by cutting out one layer of profit. Sod is typically sold by the pallet. Pallets hold 450 to 700 square feet of sod, so something that will cover 20′ x 20′ up to 20′ x 35′.
Palletized sod comes in three types, according to Sod Solutions. Slabs 16″ x 24″ are popular in the South, with 400-500 square feet per pallet. Mini or small rolls, also 400-500 square feet per pallet, are commonly used for small yards; large rolls at up to 700 square feet per pallet are the choice for larger landscapes where less trimming is required. Sod per pallet varies a little among sellers.
Already have a lawn – but it isn’t healthy? Some homeowners opt to tear out a poorly developed lawn and start fresh with sod. And that might be necessary.
However, if you want to try something a lot less costly, consider overseeding the lawn this year using our guide, and see if that solution works. It could save you enough cash for other outdoor projects like putting in a brick patio or something else on your wish list.
Cost Factors for a Sod Lawn
Like all outdoor projects, there are a few variables that affect the bottom line. When considering the cost of sod, these factors play a role.
- Grass Type – In some regions, the varieties differ quite a bit in cost, particularly where the climate makes it difficult to grow some species. Other places, there is less difference. For example, at this writing, Home Depot in Michigan is selling pallets of Kentucky Bluegrass, Zoysia, Fescue, Ryegrass and St. Augustine all for the same $585 per 500-sq. ft. pallet when the customer picks it up. That’s $1.17 per square foot.
- Who you Buy From – If you have the opportunity to buy directly from a sod farm, costs might be significantly lower, again because there is no “middleman” taking a profit. For example, while Home Depot is selling sod at $1.17/square foot, Buy Sod Direct, a sod farm in Connecticut, is selling Kentucky Bluegrass and a Fescue Blend for $0.80 per square foot to customers in New England.
- Transportation Fees – Fuel prices are high, so whether you pick up the sod or your installer brings it to your home, distance from the source is going to noticeably affect cost.
- DIY vs Pro – As noted, laying the sod yourself saves you around a third of the cost. It’s a good option for homeowners that have the time to lay all the sod in a few days to prevent it from drying out. This isn’t a job that can be spread over a couple weekends, unless you get two separate deliveries of sod or can pick it up with your own truck and trailer. Extra delivery/pick-up expenses take a bite out of your DIY cost savings.
- Initial Prep – Most installers do some or all of the preparation for laying sod. The more stones, roots and other debris that have to be removed, the higher the cost. If the installer does the final grading of the soil, rather than it being done by an excavator, cost will rise.
- Yard Size – Cost per square foot goes down a little as the yard size increases, though of course, your total bill will be higher the more lawn you have.
- Yard Complexity – The more obstacles there are to work around – Large trees, deck or patio, pool, detached buildings, garden beds, etc., the higher the installation estimates will be.
- Time of Year – You might find bargains from landscapers and sod companies during off-peak times of the year, usually at the very start of the season or as it winds down. Just be sure your sod will have a couple weeks to securely root before hard frosts hit.
Cost of Sod and Installation Supplies
This section is about the price of sod without installation and the cost of the supplies needed to install it. Details on installation costs are found in the next section.
If your property is blessed with rich topsoil, then the sod and its installation might be your only expense. However, where topsoil is needed, you should add around 4 inches, loose-packed, to prepare for sod. Note: 1 cubic yard of topsoil covers 81 square feet to a depth of 4 inches.
And, of course, if you DIY, you’ll need a few extras, which are listed and priced here.
Some of these grass varieties might not be available where you live.
Costs are per square foot.
- $0.85 – $1.30 | Fescue Sod
- $0.85 – $1.25 | Kentucky Bluegrass Sod
- $0.90 – $1.40 | Zoysia Sod
- $1.15 – $1.70 | St. Augustine Sod
- $1.20 – $1.80 | Bermuda Sod
- $0.90 – $1.35 | Bahia Sod
- $1.25 – $1.75 | Centipede Sod
- $1.10 – $1.70 | Perennial Ryegrass Sod
- $1.20 – $1.60 | Bentgrass Sod
Are you experiencing sticker shock? We’ve noticed that many cost sites have prices around half of what we listed here. We’ll explain our pricing in a second. But for comparison, Home Advisor estimates $0.35 to $0.85 per square foot installed. Another usually reliable site, HomeGuide, comes in at a near copycat price of $0.30 to $0.80. Homewyse, which often overprices jobs, says the 2022 cost of sod installed by a landscaper is around $2.00 to $3.50 per square foot – and there probably are parts of the country where that top price is right.
Our costs are accurate, higher than most because we’re up-to-date, and the cost of “everything” including fuel and labor has risen significantly, as you likely know. We always check actual material costs, in this case sod, plus labor rates when calculating our Costimates, or cost estimates. Sod prices from Home Depot are mentioned above, and we’ve priced sod at sod farms and other sellers to establish a range.
As a result, we’re confident in our price ranges.
- $18 – $30 per cubic yard | Black dirt / topsoil delivered
- $38 – $58 per cubic yard | Topsoil delivered and spread
- $12 – $28 | Shovel
- $12 – $25 | Metal rake
- $10 – $30 | Lawn edger or small limb saw for trimming sod
- $12 – $25 | 50-foot hose
- $8 – $30 | Oscillating sprinkler
- $75 – $200 | Wheelbarrow
Permits, Inspection, and Installation Costs.
Permits and Inspection Cost
- $0 | A permit is not required for installing sod.
Labor and Installation Time
Labor costs are around $0.25 to $0.50 per square foot. Some, like Homewyse, suggest they are as much as $1.00 per square foot, but we haven’t found rates quite that high except for doing small yards in high cost-of-living areas.
Primary labor-related cost factors, besides DIY vs Pro, are:
Site Prep – The amount of work required to prepare the ground for sod affects estimates. Even if you don’t plan to lay the sod, you can save money by raking out roots, large weeds and stones larger than a golf ball.
Landscape Characteristics – The more obstacles to work and trim around, the higher the cost per square foot.
Volume of Sod – Small jobs cost more per square foot because travel time and cost for the crew and equipment are the same for a 2-hour job as if they’re at the job site all day.
A crew usually installs 100-200 square feet per hour. So, if you’ve got 500 square feet of lawn, the sod should go down in 3-5 hours depending on the size of the crew and the shape/complexity of your lawn.
We’ve found the projects listed below to be commonly related to having sod installed.
Are You a Pro Landscaper?
If so, head over to our Costimates Pro’s page, and help us make this page better and more accurate for both our visitors and your future customers.
DIY or Hire a Pro
There are a few simple steps to a successful DIY sod job. If it sounds doable to you, then it is likely worth trying. Home Depot has a 3-minute video that provides a good overview.
Keep these tips in mind as you consider DIY vs Pro.
- Choose a grass that grows well in your area – with characteristics you desire in terms of texture, color and how tall is “just right” for its health.
- Measure the square footage of dirt to be covered – you don’t have to be too meticulous about subtracting for small areas that won’t be covered, because you’ll want a little extra anyway.
- That’s right – factor in about 5% overage to make sure you have enough to have large pieces – minimum of about 12″x16″ – for any spot.
- When the sod arrives, get to work right away. Keep the pallet in a shady spot and covered. If it feels like it is drying out, soak it with a hose.
- Wet and cover any sod that will be left overnight.
If you don’t have the time or sufficient help to get the work done in a timely manner, or if you simply want the assurance of pro results, then hire a landscaper for your sod installation.