The Q&A Archives: Starting a New Lawn

Question: I am new to lawn care. There are so many types of seeds, fertilizers, mulch, composts, etc. How do I start a new lawn in an area that was burned last year? Bob Albany, NY

Answer: The keys to starting a new lawn are: soil preparation, grass variety, and early care. First, the soil: you want to provide a rich, weed-free environment for your new lawn. If the area you are describing was a field, most likely the roots survived theburning and will soon sprout. What you do depends on the size of the area, what you hope to achieve, and how much you want to spend. If the area was a grassy field, you can simply let it grow again, and begin mowing as you would a lawn. By the end of the summer you will have a fairly decent lawn area--depending on the condition of the field when you started. Grass is one of the few plant that can withstand repeated mowing, so most broadleaf weeds will die off (dandelions being an exception!). If you are looking for a smooth lawn, you may need to till up the area, grade it, rake it, and plant seed. Or you can bring in topsoil, rake it out to a smooth surface, and plant. Choose a grass seed appropriate for your use: for your situation a commercial grass mix would probably be best. Your local garden center should carry a selection. Once you spread the seed, you need to lightly rake it in, or use a lawn roller. This is to ensure that the seed is in close contact with the soil, so it can germinate. You may want to spread some hay lightly over the surface, to minimize erosion and keep the birds from eating all your seed. Finally, keep the new lawn well watered, and try not to walk on it until it is well-established.

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