How Much Does Sod Installation Cost?


Hello Calgary homeowners! Welcome to another informative piece from Project Landscape, your go-to experts in creating beautiful outdoor spaces. Today, we’re tackling a question that many of you have pondered: “How much does sod installation cost?” While we won’t delve into exact numbers, this blog aims to unpack the various elements that contribute to the cost of sod installation. Our goal is to provide you with a comprehensive understanding, helping you make informed decisions for your lawn transformation.

Table of Contents:

  • The Size of the Lawn
  • Grading
  • Obstacles in the Back and Front Yard
  • Machine Access
  • Pre-Sodding Treatment
  • Irrigation Systems
  • Removal of Existing Lawn
  • FAQ about Sod
  • Conclusion

The Size of the Lawn:

When considering the cost of sod installation, the size of your lawn plays a pivotal role. It’s a simple equation: the larger your lawn, the more sod you’ll need, and consequently, the higher the cost. But it’s not just about the amount of sod. The size of your lawn also dictates the amount of labor, preparation work, and time needed to complete the job.

First things first, getting an accurate measurement of your lawn is crucial. This isn’t just a step you can eyeball and estimate. Why? Because every square foot counts. Underestimating the size might lead to insufficient sod order, while overestimating could mean unnecessary expenses. A precise measurement ensures you pay for exactly what you need, no more, no less.

So, how does this measurement translate into cost? Larger lawns require more rolls of sod, which directly affects the material cost. But that’s not all. The larger the area, the more soil preparation is required. This includes clearing the area, leveling the ground, and ensuring optimal soil conditions. All these preparatory steps are essential for your new sod to take root effectively and flourish.

Moreover, a larger lawn means more manpower and hours. Sod installation is labor-intensive, especially when done correctly. Laying sod involves meticulous placement, ensuring each piece is snugly fitted against the next to avoid gaps and overlaps. This attention to detail is crucial for a seamless and healthy lawn, and naturally, it takes time, particularly for larger spaces.

In a nutshell, the size of your lawn is the starting point of your sod installation journey. It sets the stage for the entire project – influencing everything from material costs to labor hours. Understanding this aspect helps you appreciate the nuances of sod installation and prepares you for a more accurate estimation of your project’s cost.


After sizing up your lawn, the next significant factor influencing the cost of sod installation is grading. Grading refers to the process of leveling and contouring the land to prepare it for sod laying. This step is crucial not only for the aesthetic appeal of your lawn but also for its health and longevity.

Why is grading so important? Well, effective grading ensures proper drainage, which is vital for sod health. Water needs to flow away from buildings and structures to prevent pooling, which can damage both your property and your new sod. Additionally, a well-graded lawn prevents erosion and ensures an even, aesthetically pleasing appearance.

The cost implications of grading your lawn can vary significantly. If your existing landscape is relatively flat and requires minimal work, the cost will be lower. However, if your yard has uneven terrain, slopes, or hills, more extensive grading work will be necessary, which will increase the cost.

During the grading process, it’s not uncommon to discover that additional soil or even topsoil is required to create an optimal growing environment for the sod. This step ensures that the sod has all the nutrients it needs to establish itself quickly and grow robustly.

Another factor to consider is the condition of the soil. Compacted soil, common in urban settings, may require aeration or amendment to improve its quality. These additional steps, while beneficial for the long-term health of your lawn, can add to the initial installation cost.

In summary, grading is a vital part of the sod installation process that can’t be overlooked. It lays the foundation for a healthy, beautiful lawn. While it may seem like an additional cost, proper grading pays off in the long run by ensuring your lawn remains attractive and healthy, reducing the need for costly repairs or adjustments in the future.

Obstacles in the Back and Front Yard:

As you look forward to transforming your lawn with fresh sod, it’s important to consider the various obstacles that might be present in your front and back yard. These obstacles can range from large trees and garden beds to decorative features and existing pathways. While these elements add character to your landscape, they also play a significant role in determining the complexity and cost of sod installation.

First, let’s talk about trees. While they bring beauty and shade, their roots and canopy can complicate sod laying. Careful navigation around tree roots is essential to avoid damage, and this precision requires additional labor and time. Similarly, existing garden beds or decorative elements like statues or water features need to be worked around cautiously. This meticulous attention to detail ensures the integrity of both your sod and your cherished yard features.

Pathways and walkways also present a unique challenge. The sod needs to be cut and laid precisely along these areas to ensure a neat and professional finish. This precision cutting is more labor-intensive than laying sod on an open, unobstructed area.

In addition to the physical obstacles, consider the accessibility of these areas. Tight corners, narrow passages, or fenced areas can restrict the movement of equipment and personnel, necessitating more manual labor, which can affect the installation timeline and cost.

It’s also important to note that the presence of obstacles can impact the amount of sod needed. Oddly shaped areas or spaces around obstacles may require additional sod pieces to ensure complete coverage, which can slightly increase material costs.

In essence, while obstacles in your yard can add complexity to the sod installation process, careful planning and skilled execution can ensure a seamless integration of your new lawn with the existing landscape elements. This detailed work, while potentially impacting the overall cost, is crucial for achieving a harmonious and beautifully finished lawn.

Machine Access:

When it comes to sod installation, the accessibility of your yard for machinery plays a significant role in determining the efficiency and cost of the project. Machine access refers to the ability to use specialized equipment, such as sod cutters and rollers, in your yard. These machines greatly enhance the speed and quality of the installation process, but their use depends on how easily they can be brought into your yard.

Why does machine access matter? First and foremost, machines like sod cutters ensure uniform cutting and laying of the sod, contributing to a more aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting lawn. Rollers are used to eliminate air pockets and ensure good sod-to-soil contact, which is crucial for the sod’s rooting process. When these machines can be easily used, the installation process is quicker and more efficient, which can help in keeping labor costs down.

However, not all yards are readily accessible for such machinery. Challenges such as narrow gates, steep slopes, or steps can limit machine access. In such scenarios, more manual labor is required, which can increase the time and labor costs associated with your sod installation project.

If machine access is limited, our team at Project Landscape takes a hands-on approach. We employ methods and tools that are best suited for smaller or harder-to-reach areas, ensuring that every corner of your lawn receives the attention it needs for a successful sod installation. This meticulous handwork, while potentially increasing the project’s duration and cost, ensures that quality isn’t compromised due to access constraints.

In some cases, minor modifications can be made to improve machine access, such as temporarily removing a section of fencing. These adjustments, while helpful, might add to the overall project timeline and cost.

In summary, machine access is a crucial factor in the sod installation process. It influences not only the efficiency and speed of the project but also the cost. Understanding the accessibility of your yard will help you have a clearer picture of what the installation process will entail and how it might impact the overall budget for your new lawn.

Pre-Sodding Treatment:

A crucial step in ensuring the success of your new sod lawn is the pre-sodding treatment. This process involves preparing your soil to create the best possible foundation for the sod. The quality and condition of the soil play a significant role in how well the sod takes root and thrives. Therefore, investing in pre-sodding treatments can influence both the initial cost and the long-term health of your lawn.

Soil Testing and Amendment:

The first step in pre-sodding treatment is often soil testing. This test determines the pH level and nutrient profile of your soil, which is critical for understanding what amendments your soil may need. Depending on the test results, your soil might require the addition of lime (to raise pH), sulfur (to lower pH), or other nutrients. Properly balanced soil is essential for healthy grass growth.

Tilling and Aeration:

Tilling the soil helps to loosen and aerate it, providing a better environment for the sod roots to establish. This is especially important in areas with compacted soil, as it improves drainage and allows roots to penetrate more easily. Aeration can be a labor-intensive process, and if necessary, it will factor into the overall cost of sod installation.

Weed Control:

It’s also essential to address any existing weed issues before laying new sod. This may involve applying herbicides or manually removing weeds. Effective weed control ensures that your new sod isn’t competing for nutrients, water, and space, leading to a healthier lawn.

Adding Topsoil:

In some cases, adding a layer of topsoil can be beneficial. This is particularly true if the existing soil is of poor quality or lacks sufficient depth. High-quality topsoil provides a rich growing medium for the sod, but it also adds to the material cost and labor involved in spreading it evenly over the area.

Impact on Cost:

While pre-sodding treatment adds to the upfront cost of sod installation, it’s an investment in the future of your lawn. Well-prepared soil can reduce the need for excessive watering and fertilization in the future and can contribute to a healthier, more resilient lawn.

In conclusion, pre-sodding treatment is an integral part of the sod installation process, ensuring that your new lawn has the best possible start. While it influences the initial investment, it pays off by fostering a lush, vibrant lawn that can be enjoyed for years to come.

Irrigation Systems:

One of the key elements that can impact both the cost and success of your new sod lawn is the irrigation system. Proper watering is crucial for sod to establish its roots and thrive, especially in the initial weeks after installation. Depending on your current landscaping setup and the needs of your new lawn, the installation or modification of an irrigation system can be an important consideration.

Importance of Adequate Watering:

New sod requires consistent and even watering to ensure healthy root growth. Without an effective irrigation system, maintaining the optimal moisture level can be challenging, especially during Calgary’s dryer seasons. An unevenly watered lawn can lead to patchy growth and weakened grass.

Types of Irrigation Systems:

There are several options for lawn irrigation, ranging from simple sprinkler systems to more sophisticated, automated irrigation systems. The choice depends on the size of your lawn, your watering needs, and your budget.

  • Sprinkler Systems: These can be either portable or permanently installed. Permanent sprinkler systems offer convenience and ensure even coverage but involve a higher initial installation cost.
  • Drip Irrigation: This is a more efficient method, especially for targeted watering. It’s ideal for conserving water, but it might not be suitable for larger lawns.
  • Automated Irrigation: Automated systems, equipped with timers and moisture sensors, provide the ultimate convenience and precision in watering. They can be programmed to water the lawn at the most effective times, reducing water wastage and ensuring consistent moisture.

Installation and Modification Costs:

If you already have an irrigation system, it might need to be adjusted or expanded to suit the new sod. This could involve repositioning sprinkler heads or modifying the system’s coverage area. On the other hand, if you’re installing a new system, the cost will depend on the complexity and type of system you choose.

Long-Term Benefits:

While the installation of an irrigation system represents an additional cost, it is a worthwhile investment for the health of your lawn. A well-designed system not only saves time and effort in lawn maintenance but also contributes to the long-term sustainability of your green space by conserving water and ensuring optimal growth conditions.

In summary, considering the irrigation needs of your new sod lawn is essential. Whether it’s modifying an existing system or installing a new one, this step ensures your lawn remains lush and healthy, enhancing the beauty and value of your property.

Removal of Existing Lawn:

Before the fresh, green sod can be laid down, it’s often necessary to remove any existing lawn. This step is essential for several reasons, not least of which is to ensure that the new sod has a clean, healthy base to take root in. The process of removing an old lawn can vary in complexity and cost, depending on a few key factors.

Why Remove the Old Lawn?

  • Soil Health: Removing the old lawn helps to expose the soil underneath, allowing for any necessary treatments or amendments to be made. This is crucial for ensuring the new sod has a nutrient-rich base to grow in.
  • Weed and Pest Control: Old lawns can harbor weeds, pests, and diseases. Removing the existing grass helps to mitigate these issues before they can affect the new sod.
  • Leveling and Grading: This is also an opportunity to level and grade the soil, ensuring proper drainage and a flat surface for the sod installation.

Methods of Lawn Removal:

  • Sod Cutter: A sod cutter is a machine that slices under the grass, allowing for the removal of grass and roots in large sections. This method is efficient and effective but requires machinery access.
  • Manual Removal: In areas where machine access is limited, the lawn may need to be removed manually using shovels and other hand tools. This is more labor-intensive and can therefore impact the cost.
  • Herbicides: In some cases, herbicides may be used to kill the existing lawn before removal. However, this method requires careful handling and timing to ensure the health of the new sod.

Cost Considerations:

The cost of removing an existing lawn is influenced by the size of the area, the method of removal, and the condition of the current lawn. Larger areas and lawns with thick or deep-rooted grass varieties will generally require more labor and resources to remove.

Disposal of Old Lawn:

Another aspect to consider is the disposal of the old lawn material. This often involves hauling away the removed grass and soil, which can add to the project cost.

In conclusion, the removal of an existing lawn is a critical step in preparing for new sod installation. While it adds to the overall cost, this process is essential for ensuring that your new lawn has the best possible start, laying the groundwork for a beautiful, healthy outdoor space.

FAQ about Sod:

In this section, we’ll tackle some of the most frequently asked questions about sod installation. Our goal is to provide clear, concise answers to help Calgary homeowners make informed decisions about their landscaping needs.

1. What is the best time of year to install sod in Calgary?

The ideal time to install sod in Calgary is late spring to early fall. This period offers the moderate temperatures and consistent rainfall that are ideal for sod rooting. Avoid installing sod during the extreme heat of mid-summer or the freezing temperatures of winter.

2. How long does it take for new sod to establish?

Typically, new sod takes about two to three weeks to establish firmly. During this time, it’s crucial to water the sod regularly and avoid heavy foot traffic on the lawn.

3. Can I install sod over an existing lawn?

It’s not recommended to install sod over an existing lawn. The old grass can interfere with the rooting process of the new sod and may lead to uneven growth and health issues. Removing the existing lawn is usually necessary for the best results.

4. How much watering does new sod require?

New sod requires frequent watering to keep the soil consistently moist. In the first week, water the sod two to three times daily. Gradually reduce watering frequency as the sod establishes, but ensure the soil remains moist.

5. Is it necessary to fertilize new sod?

While new sod often comes with initial nutrients, applying a starter fertilizer can encourage faster rooting and growth. Be sure to use a fertilizer formulated for new sod and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

6. When can I mow my new sod lawn?

Wait until your sod is firmly rooted before mowing, typically about two to three weeks after installation. Set your mower to a higher setting initially to avoid stressing the grass.

7. Are there different types of sod suitable for Calgary’s climate?

Yes, there are several types of sod that are well-suited to Calgary’s climate. These include Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue, and Ryegrass blends. Each type has its own advantages and is selected based on specific lawn needs and conditions.


As we wrap up our comprehensive guide on sod installation costs, it’s clear that numerous factors come into play. From the size of your lawn and the necessary grading work to the removal of old grass and the installation of irrigation systems, each element contributes to both the initial investment and the long-term success of your sod lawn.

At Project Landscape in Calgary, we understand that every lawn is unique, and so are the needs of each homeowner. While we haven’t delved into specific pricing in this blog, our aim was to provide you with a deeper understanding of what goes into sod installation. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions and set realistic expectations for your landscaping project.

Remember, investing in professional sod installation is not just about enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your property; it’s about creating a sustainable, healthy outdoor space for you and your family to enjoy. The upfront cost is balanced by the long-term benefits of having a lush, vibrant lawn that enhances your home’s curb appeal and provides a welcoming outdoor environment.

If you’re considering sod installation for your home in Calgary, we invite you to connect with us. At Project Landscape, our team of experts is committed to delivering quality workmanship and exceptional customer service. We’re here to guide you through every step of your landscaping journey, ensuring that your vision for a beautiful lawn is realized.For more information or to discuss your specific landscaping needs, feel free to reach out to us at 403 257 4059 or visit our website here. Let’s work together to create the outdoor space of your dreams!

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