When it comes to installing sod, there are many factors that increase the chances of success, from choosing the grass type to providing sufficient aftercare. The main concerns, though, are those you run into while actually putting in the sod. If you install the sod right, most other issues will end up being minor or no problem at all.
Sod needs to be installed at a time of year when the grass is still actively putting on new growth but when environmental stresses are at the lowest. In most climates, this means late spring or very late summer and early fall installation is best. It's still warm enough for grass growth in these seasons, but extreme heat and dry conditions are rarer. Pests and disease organisms may also be less active at these times as compared to high summer.
A soil test should be performed before the sod arrives. You can use a home test kit or take a soil sample to a testing lab in your area. The test will help you determine what nutrients are missing from the soil. The goal is to do this early so that there will be plenty of time to till in the nutrients or necessary fertilizers before sod installation begins.
Some soil preparation is also usually needed before the sod arrives. Grass can have difficulty rooting into compacted soil, so tilling and breaking up the top few inches is recommended. If the soil structure leaves much to be desired, such as in overly sandy or heavy clay soil, till in a thick layer of compost, peat, or coconut coir to help improve structure and drainage. The goal is arable soil that doesn't compact easily, but that holds some moisture without becoming soggy.
Don't schedule a sod delivery right before you leave town for a long weekend. Sod should ideally be installed on the day it arrives, or at least within the next 24 hours or so. Schedule the delivery for the day you plan to install it. If something comes up that interrupts installation plans, having the sod placed in a shaded area where it won't dry out quickly can keep it healthy for a short time.
Technique during installation is a key part of success. Sod strips shouldn't overlap each other, as this interferes with rooting. It's also best to avoid large gaps between sod strips — the edges need to butt up against each other. Further, stagger the joints between strips along each installed row, much as one would do when laying bricks.
Contact a sod installation service if you want more information.