This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
I am a very good sod layer, and used to lay very large lawns--half to three-quarters of an acre. I cut the sods as follows: Take a board eight to nine inches wide, four, five, or six feet long, and cut downward all around the board, then turn the board over and cut again alongside the edge of the board, and so on as many sods as needed. Then cut the turf with a sharp spade, all the same lengths. Begin on one end, and roll together. Eight inches by five feet is about as much as a man can handle conveniently. It is very easy to load them on a wagon, cart, or barrow, and they can be quickly laid. After laying a good piece, sprinkle a little with a watering pot, if the sods are dry; then use the back of the spade to smooth them a little. If a very fine effect is wanted, throw a shovelful or two of good earth over each square yard, and smooth it with the back of a steel rake.