How to Get Rid of Weeds before Laying Sod (Step by Step Method)

Weeds suck.

Spring is not that far off! Pretty soon, the ground will be thawing, birds will be singing, and your garden is ready to have a joyous growing season. The only thing you need to do is get rid of the weeds that are going to compete for your more aesthetically-inclined plants.

There is nothing more frustrating in the gardening community than getting rid of weeds. It makes sense in very general terms to spend hours manually ripping them out of the ground. Bending down to pull a couple is no big deal, but a whole lawn can take hours. But that’s not the worst part.

The real rub is that you’re just wasting your time. All those hours you spend causing back issues that might wind up pretty serious were for naught.

Just When You Think You’ve Pulled Them…

Think of weeds like a killer in a horror movie. You think they’re dead at the end, only for them to re-emerge to pick up any leftover box office revenue. When you pull a weed, you rarely get rid of all of it.

In fact, in some cases, it’s actually counterproductive. When you pull the weed out, it’s not very likely you pulled out its entire root system, meaning it’ll just grow back. Depending on the kind of weed, certain kinds won’t die without some kind of product applied.

In the Spring, you want your lawn to be a blank canvas you can add or subtract from. But weeds get in the way. Laying sod on weedy soil means that canvas is already a mess before you ever laid your hands on it. The only surefire way to prevent this is to rid your lawn of weeds before laying sod.

Not only does this mean a healthier, prettier lawn, but it’ll also cut down on the back-breaking hours you fruitlessly spend hand-ripping them out of the ground. But like everything in lawn care, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

The first step in getting rid of all the weeds in your lawn is watering it, encouraging them to sprout. After all, you can’t kill what you can’t see. After that, follow these steps prior to laying your sod.

Steps to Follow before Removing Weeds before Laying Sod

  • Treat Your Lawn with Weed and Grass Killer

When you’re planning to re-sod your lawn, there’s an easy way to get rid of weeds and any grass leftover from last year. To kill all weeds and existing grass, a strong weed killer is needed.

The strongest on the market contain Glysophate, such as Round-Up. However, there are environmental concerns regarding some of those products.

Glysophate is mostly harmless but used in excess, has raised concerns about its effect on plants and the environment.

One option, if you’re concerned about the harm some weed killers can cause, is to try a homemade recipe.

Vinegar is your friend here. Alone, it can kill weeds. But it’s much more effective when mixed with dish soap and Epsom salts.

Either kills weeds down to the root. Whichever you choose, use a pump or backsprayer, then wait for the product to do its job. If you don’t over-apply the weed killer, it should wash out of the soil within a few weeks.

  • Re-Treat Lawn When Necessary

The first round of treatment will take care of the most obvious weeds, but you might still find a few persistent ones.

Emergent weed killers don’t kill the weed’s seeds, meaning they can resprout. If, after two weeks, you still see weeds appearing, this means the emergent didn’t finish its job.

So treat it again. That should take care of what’s left.

There is one other alternative that might be more effective. If you have a small lawn, cover it with black plastic to block moisture and sunlight from reaching the soil. After four weeks, this should kill the weeds, however, it’s not as effective as a good weed killer. It also takes longer, which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to get a start on the season and isn’t very practical for larger yards.

  • Cut and Get Rid of Old Sod

Some people just throw new sod atop last year’s, but leaving old sod on your lawn opens it up to old weeds growing under the new.

As a result, your lawn is suddenly courting weeds, rootstock, rhizomes, crabgrass, and dead grass.

Use best sod cutter to remove last year’s sod. You can easily rent one from the local hardware store, and it plays a vital role in keeping your grass fresh.

You may think you’re clever using the old sod as compost. What you’re actually doing is re-introducing seeds into your lawn that you had gotten rid of. It’s much better to recycle your old sod.

  • Till for Soil Preparation

One of the primary difficulties in laying sod is trying to get the grass to take root beneath soil. To expedite this process, you should till the soil for preparation before you lay the sod.

Tilling the soil loosens it, allowing the grass to take root more easily.

Without tilling, grass seeds can wither, creating perfect conditions for new weeds to sprout.

You’ll want to rent or purchase a tiller that can work the soil as deeply as six to 12 inches.

  • Water, Wait, Kill Again

Tilling does wonders for promoting new grass growth, but it can also bring long-dormant weeds to the surface. Weeds that are dormant start to sprout when they’re about 1 inch from the surface.

Tilling soil brings up weeds you thought you got rid of, so it’s time to kill them once and for all.

Start watering your freshly tilled soil daily for one to two weeks. You’ll want to do this anyway, as it readies the ground for new sod. It also encourages those weeds that have been hiding out to grow.

Once you start to see them, treat your lawn as you did in the first two steps once more, then wait a week. At this point, you’ve done a pretty thorough job of killing all the weeds on your lawn.

  • Ready to Sod

You should have successfully removed all existing weeds in your garden, and not once did you have to bend over and yank one out of the ground.

If the weedkiller didn’t do the job by now, retrace the steps and go through the process again, but this isn’t likely. It’s time to start laying sod for Spring.

You’ll want to apply the sod to the ground carefully, raking the soil first to make it as level as possible. Then position and unfurl each row. Trim the sod for any loose edges, then nourish it with plenty of water.

This is the ideal way to lay it and ensure no unwanted, unpleasant weeds appear later on.

Of course, we can’t stop you from reaching down and yanking them. It’s a habit that a lot of gardeners just won’t break. But knowing that there are alternatives, even organic alternatives that don’t require weed killers that are potentially harmful to the environment.

Whatever your choice, this is a much more effective way to kill weeds before getting your lawn ready for a beautiful, lush Spring.

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