Instant Lawn

It’s not a secret – I’m no gardener.  But it turns out that you don’t have to have anything resembling a green thumb to give your backyard a rockin’ lawn.

On Friday afternoon, our backyard was just a choppy mess of random plantings:

Instant Lawn

After just 3 hours of work (no lie), our backyard now looks like this:

Instant Lawn

So much better, right?  (And clearly, it’s not a dirty job at all – hehe).  Here’s how we did it:

1.  Clear the ground.  This was the most time-consuming part of the project (about 2 hours out of our total of 3 hours for this project).  We pulled up all of the old edging (a combo of cement blocks and metal edging).

Instant Lawn

We stacked the cement blocks in the driveway to either give away on Craigslist or use in a later project.  The next step was a little more laborious – we took out all of the old shrubs, weeds and random flowers (which were no longer flowering), leaving us with two big patches of dirt.  As we pulled out the old plants, we made sure to pick up any rocks (there were bunches!), roots and twigs that we came across.  You can tell the hubby is pretty proud here after he conquered these ridiculous roots:

Instant Lawn

(And you thought your roots were bad!  Hehe. )

2.  Mix it up. After the soil was free of any debris, we got to work with our shovels and chopped up the first few inches of the soil, which was really hard and compacted.  We chose to till the soil the old school way (by hand) instead of renting a tiller – not too hard and it saved us a few bucks.

3.  Top it off. Once the soil is nice and loose, it’s time to add some nutrient-rich topsoil / fertilizer.  We used about 6 bags ($30 worth) of Scott’s Turf Builder:

Instant Lawn

( I don’t know why it insists on being sideways – sorry! )

4.  Even it out. Obviously you don’t want a lumpy lawn, so even out the soil with a rake or your hands (we think hands work the best).  Also make sure that you aren’t creating any low spots that will collect water, and that the soil is graded to drain away from the house.

5.  Figure out “what” and “how much”. Before we headed out to Home Depot, we busted out the tape measurer to figure out how many square feet of sod we would need (turns out we needed 115 square feet, which amounted to 46 pieces of sod).  We also took a look at our existing lawn to determine the type of grass that we have.  We have St Augustine, which is really common in our part of Texas – it’s hardy, drought-resistant, and loves sun but can tolerate shade (this last fact is really great for us, since that part of the yard gets a fair amount of shade).  After figuring out what and how much we needed, we headed off to Home Depot and they loaded up my car with 46 lovely pieces of St. Augustine sod for a total of about 80 bucks.  (FYI – sod comes in pieces that are 24 x 16 inches, and garden centers like Home Depot also sell seed for those of you that have the patience to watch the grass grow, and plugs for when you need to fill in little gaps in your lawn.)

Instant Lawn

6.  Lay it all out. Once we unloaded all of the sod out of my car and into the backyard, it was time to get down to business.  My husband became the official sod-layer, while I acted as the sod waterer – it was a tough job, but someone had to do it.  Basically, I would water the back of each piece of sod before he laid it down so that it would be a little easier for the roots to break through to the ground.  Then my hubby laid the sod in a brick pattern, cutting the sod with garden shears whenever a randomly-sized piece was needed.  Sod is laid in a brick pattern (staggered) so that you don’t have big seams throughout your entire yard.

7.  Start the waterworks. After all of the sod is laid out, water it like crazy – like big-time crazy.  You want the soil on the back of each piece of sod to kind of melt into the ground below, so don’t be shy with that garden hose.  And give the new grass a serious soaking every day for the next two weeks, and then a big-time soak every other day for the next few weeks.  Basically, you can’t water the new grass too much.

8.  Enjoy. Looking out over your handiwork is pretty darn satisfying, so grab a drink and set up shop on the back porch to admire your lawn for awhile.  Oh yeah – you might want to wash all that dirt off first.

Now that doesn’t sound too hard, does it?  Honestly, the hubby and I were shocked at how easy it all was, and how quickly we finished.  The preparation part took about 2 hours, and the sod-laying part took another hour – 3 hours total for 115 square feet of new lawn.  And our efforts cost us just over $100, which is about $300 less than the bid a local lawn guy gave us for the job.  Now our yard looks so much better, and we get to brag about our landscaping skills – not too bad for about $100 and only 3 hours of work!

What landscaping projects are you thinking about tackling in your yard this spring?

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  1. Nicole says:

    This post reminds me of what we need to do SOON – work on our lawn. I don’t mind being outside and actually enjoy the work but I have the furthest thing from a green thumb! Here’s hoping I don’t kill everything this year!

  2. Tonya says:

    What a great Saturday project! You two kicked butt! I’m so impressed with how quickly it all came together! Thanks for the instructions on how to do it, you make it seem so doable :-) As always, love the post!

  3. nikkisnacs says:

    Now that is some hard work!

  4. Kathy says:

    Looks great!

  5. Joan says:

    What a difference 3 hours and a little (lot) sweat equity makes! The transformation looks awesome because it not only makes your yard space look much larger, but also less cut up and cluttered.
    Now you’ll have to find a (reno or decorating) use for all the money you saved! Great job!

  6. deidra says:

    You did a great job! The yard looks mah-velous!

  7. stephanie says:

    WOW! It looks great!

  8. Christina says:

    Wonderful difference for a great price. You and your husband did a great job.

  9. Wow! What a fantastic transformation! I would have loved to lay sod at our new house.