Soil preperation for a new sod or seed lawn
A critical step in the future health of any permanent planting areaIt all starts ...& ends here!
Soil Preperation for a Lawnnbsp;
With the goal of a lush, green lawn in mind, it is tempting to rush through the initial steps of its establishment---and nothing could be more unfortunate. Your first decisions and procedures are important to the future of your lawn.
Preparing for a lawn
There are many different way of progressing from bare ground to a new lawn. Some people simply seed over the ground with minimal to no preparation at all.
Few of these lawns reach their optimal level of appearance---if they even survive. The amount of work necessary to prepare the soil before seeding or sodding depends on its present condition. If your lucky enough to have a rich loam soil and the proper grade, probably little needs to be done beyond a through tilling, fertilizing and raking. Usually, though, more work is required.
Step 1: Examining the soil
Much of the success of your lawn depends on how you prepare the soil. Remember that, unlike a vegetable garden where the soil can be rebuilt every year, Grass roots grow in the same soil year after year. Although most nutrient deficiencies can be corrected after the lawn has been established, changing the soil texture under growing grass is a difficult, labor intensive and expensive job.
Step 2: Removing debris
To start with, clear all debris--wood, stones, metal and other materials from the planting area--all new construction sites are filled with this material that is simply buried over by the "rapid fire" lawn installer at the time, and left to be found years later when the lawn eventually fails and the grade has become uneven.
Rotting wood will cause low spots in the lawn as it decomposes, and will serve as a food source for termites. A Tree stump, though often difficult to remove can cause mushroom growth on the lawn above its roots, If you want to remove the stump, the time to do it would be now. This is a critical operation and is where tilling the soil becomes essential, since the goal is to prepare a "planting bed" tilling to 8-10" is highly necessary
Step 3: Establish a rough grade & install bordersEstablish a rough grade by filling low spots and cutting the high ones,Prevent water from draining towards a house by establishing the grade at a 1-2% slope away from the foundation. If rough grading will be extensive, definitely use a tilling machine or a rented Front loader such as a Bobcat.
at this point consider installing a lawn border, wood stone or concrete borders prevent grass from creeping into neighboring flower beds and make lawn care easier as well as providing a clean finished look with the clean lines that they create.
Step 4: Adding soil amendments
Once the grade has been established and the borders determined,add soil amendments as a soil test indicates to be necessary, Replace or add topsoil at this time if necessary, Spread half of the topsoil over the area and till it under, this creates a transition zone between the underlying subsoil and the new grass,add the remaining top soil and additional soil amendments, finish off to the final grade.
Step 5: Rolling & watering
Rolling the freshly prepared soil lightly with a water filled roller firms up the area to create a more uniform planting depth for seeds and sod. Water the area well after rolling to settle the soil.A common problem with new lawns is that soil settles unevenly. This is usually due to trenches that have been dug for underground sprinkler system pipes. If your carefully prepared grade changes after watering correct it prior to installing your finished lawn.
Step 6: Lay your sod or seed
For sod or seed first lightly water the area so that you do not install on a hot dry surface which can be espically damaging to sod, install strips in "broken" lines for best results, mate strips as close together as possible pressing into place for good soil contact, Finish with a water roller and water initially for 3-6 hours for best results. Check water content of the soil every day for the next 10 to 14 days and water as necessary, usually 10 mins per day or every other day depending on the heat and humidity at the time, and always in the morning, night time watering can leave the grass overly damp for an unnecessary amount of time promoting lawn diseases which weaken the grass and invite other problematic conditions to arise. Reduce watering in the 3 to 4 week time frame to just once every 3-6 days depending on soil moisture content and appearance.
Planting the seed lawn
You can sow seed with the same equipment used to spread fertilizer if the spreaders are calibrated properly for seed distribution at the recommended rate suggested on the bag.The result will be good as long as you do not over seed or under seed, you can easily sow the seed by hand. Regardless of the seeding method divide the seed into two equal portions. Seed the area with the second portion at a right angle from the first, covering the entire lawn area in each direction. When using wheeled spreaders you may have to touch up edges by hand.
Rake in the seed and roll to ensure good contact between the soil and the seed lightly rake the entire area. Do not rake too roughly: you will redistribute the seed, ruin the final grade and bury the seed too deeply.
Seeding to a depth of 1/8 - 1/4 inch depending on the size of the seed is usually sufficient.
To establish this depth and to place the seeds firmly into the soil, go over the area with a water filled roller. Surrounding the seeds with soil causes the seeds to assimilate more water which quickens germination time.
Watering for seeded lawns
Improper watering causes more newly seeded lawns to fail more than any other factor. For seeds to germinate evenly, the top layer of soil--always the first to dry out--must remain constantly moist--not wet.
after initial planting, water thoroughly up to a depth of 6 inches then lightly 3-4 times a day for the next several weeks or until the grass is established depending on the seed cultivar, its germination rate, its growth rate and the daily weather conditions, water more frequently if it is hot or windy.
Use a fine spray or a nozzle with a mist setting to minimize soil movement or seed washing away. Avoid standing water. Stringing the area with bright flags, this will keep visitors and children from walking through the area, although this does nothing for animals, and children who ignore the warnings